AD 1607: British colonists settle in Powhatan territory
More than 30 tribes and an estimated 20,000 Indians, including Mattaponi, Pamunkey, and Chickahominy peoples make up the powerful Powhatan Chiefdom in eastern Virginia. Wahunsunacock, who becomes known as Chief Powhatan, leads the regional “empire.” A British joint stock company moves into Powhatan’s territory, establishing the first permanent English settlement at Jamestown, Virginia in 1607. As English and other settlements expand and grow, Native populations decline due to various factors, including disease.
“Although it is difficult to obtain precise population figures, scholars estimate that the Powhatan Chiefdom included about 12,000 people when Jamestown was settled in 1607. Only 1,000 were left by 1700.” —Gabrielle Tayac, We Have a Story to Tell: Native Peoples of the Chesapeake, 2006
- Epidemics, Land and Water