Powhatan Indians were among the natives who occupied the coastal part of Virginia by the time English colonists were arriving. The Powhatan Indians were made up of 30 sub tribes and population that was barely 15,000. These native Indians lived in organized villages and their houses were made of sapling frames and barks. The different tribes settled independently and formed different villages. The villages were under the leadership of chiefs who were called “Werowance”. The chiefs were supposed to be men but the system of inheritance was from the mother’s family.
Historians state that the Native Americans had mixed reaction upon the arrival of the colonists in 1607. Among the most vivid reactions was hostility towards the colonists. This is due to the experience that the Native Americans had with the explorers from Spain on their coastline. Owing to the past experience with the Spanish explorers, the Native American had already developed a negative attitude towards outsider (Takaki). This resulted to conflict and wars with the colonists. It is noted that the natives actually attacked the ships before they docked at their coastline owing to the hate they had developed for the outsiders. However, the leader of the union of tribes of the Native Indians had expected to welcome all the visitors in a hospitable manner until the colonists started to exploit them. Leaders such as Conrad Weiser played major role however in ensuring that the tension between the colonists and the natives was eliminated
The conflict also emanated from the clash of cultures that were different and were interacting for the first time. Owing to these differences in culture, there emerged misunderstanding, suspicion and failed expectation which often led to conflicts among the natives and the colonists (Moyer). The different colonists had different expectations for the new world they had found which explains why they treated the natives differently. It is however important to note that the colonists had the sole aim of exploiting the natives and enriching themselves. The Spanish for example exploited the natives off their gold and silver and further transformed their governance and societal set up. The Spanish further tried to enslave the natives thus the natives began to refute the settlement of the colonists (Takaki). The French on the other hand were a bit lenient since they were more of priests than settlers and therefore they did not have much conflict with the natives compared to other colonists. The association of the natives and the English at times was fruitful while at times there was enmity between the two parties emanating from cultural and societal differences (Keasley and Meyer).
Following the arrival of the colonists, the numbers of Native American also started to decline due to intermarriages and occupation of many colonists than the natives. This was another factor that made the Native American to react since they felt insecure that outsiders were taking over their land and wealth. Initially, the Native Americans were hospitable to the colonists while the colonists depended on the generosity of the natives to exploit them (Moyer). Basically, the Powhatan Indians were farmers and grew beans, corn and squash. They also practiced hunting and fishing. Besides farming, and hunting, the Powhatan Indians also engaged in trade with other Indians and Native Americans inside and outside their chiefdoms.
This brought a sense of competition that also contributed to the conflict between the colonists and the natives since the natives felt that the outsiders were benefiting more from their resources than them. Another major catalyst of the conflicts was the territorial disputes that often erupted to be wars. Surprisingly, the natives often joined hands and supported the French who were more hospitable and helped them in the fights against the other colonists during territorial disputes. There were also rare occasions where the native Indians and the English colonists tolerated each other. This was during trade where the Indians traded foodstuffs to the colonists and deer skins in exchange for metal objects, glass beads and copper (Moyer).
It is therefore prudent that the wars were at some point unavoidable (Takaki). Had the colonists been calm and interacted with the natives in a humane manner, the wars would not erupt. On the other hand the war would have been avoided if the native Indians and the colonists had continued to correlate on trade platforms. However, after the Spanish encounter, the native Indians had already developed a negative attitude towards outsiders which means that the conflicts were prone to happen any time outsiders entered their territories.