What did the Powhatan do for recreation?

A Festive Dance, John White watercolor

A Festive Dance, John White watercolor

Leisure activities brought Powhatan people together with games, music and dancing. Men and boys wrestled and ran foot races. Everyone participated in games, similar to soccer or field hockey [stickball]. A popular gambling game, similar to pick-up-sticks, was played with reeds.

The Powhatan Indians had songs and dances for virtually every occasion, including mourning, ceremonial feasting, war and social events. Usually men and women danced in circles keeping time with their feet. They used rhythm instruments, such as dried gourd and turtle shell rattles, to accompany their songs and dances. Wooden drums covered with skins often had walnuts attached to make a rattling sound. Another instrument Powhatan Indians played was the reed flute.

Although the people did not create objects as art pieces, they put much creativity and beauty into everyday utensils and other things they made. Women wove baskets and bags out of reeds and cordage. They made pottery and decorated clothing with beads, shells and painted designs. Even the tattooing on their bodies was a form of artistic expression.