How did the Powhatan express their religious beliefs?
Powhatan Indians worshipped a hierarchy of gods and spirits. They believed in two major gods, Ahone, the creator and giver of good things, and Oke, the evil spirit, whom they tried to appease with offerings of tobacco, beads, furs and foods. The people believed in an afterlife for important leaders; therefore, the bodies of important chiefs and priests were preserved and placed on scaffolds in the temples. The Powhatan priesthood was divided into two classes. Priests presided over religious rituals, kept tribal history and maintained the temples. Lower-class conjurors specialized in foretelling enemy plans and curing illnesses with treatments in sweat lodges, herbal teas and chants. Religious leaders acted as advisors to tribal leaders. Priests and conjurors were distinguished by their striking appearances, painting their faces and wearing feather capes and head- dresses made of snake and weasel skins. They fastened bird claws and blackbirds to their ears.