What roles did men, women, and children have in Powhatan society?

Powhatans hunting and fishing, Theodor de Bry

Powhatans hunting and fishing, Theodor de Bry

Men were hunters and warriors. They made fishing equipment, built canoes and made stone tools to supply their hunting gear. Both men and women played a role in building houses. Men gathered saplings and constructed the framework. Women made mats or gathered bark to cover the structure. Women also grew crops and cooked meals, but women and children did not always stay at home. To accomplish much of their work, such as gathering firewood, wild plant foods, reeds for mats, clay for pottery, and drawing water, they often had to leave the village. Powhatan children learned their roles and responsibilities from tribal elders. Girls would weed gardens, pound corn and care for younger children. Boys were taught to fish and hunt. While they worked, women with babies carried them on cradle boards strapped to their backs. William Strachey wrote in 1612: “They love Children very dearely.” Men and women married at puberty. A man paid a bride price to the family of his future wife as compensation for the loss of her labor. Marriage was accompanied by exchanging gifts and feasting. Men were allowed to have as many wives as they could afford.