One of the most sophisticated and powerful peoples on the eastern seaboard of North America, the Powhatan chiefdom endured less than a century, but in that time as a dominant force in the region it had a profound effect on the English colony planted in its midst. Until the excavations at James Fort, our understanding of the Powhatans came from what the English wrote about them and from the limited archaeological evidence provided by a few contact period sites.
Careful excavations of Jamestown’s wells, cellars, and pits have yielded a wealth of Native material that fleshes out the story of the Powhatan Chiefdom in which English America took root. Archaeological evidence indicates that the Virginia Indians were supporting the colonists as well as living and working within James Fort. These artifacts showcase the extensive collection of Native artifacts that emphasize the adaptations and interdependence of the Powhatans and English as they negotiated a new world.