Monday, February 20, 2017

Speech by Powhatan, as recorded by John Smith, 1609

Chief Powhatan was the leader of the Powhatan federation of Indians in Virginia in the early seventeenth century. During his life, Powhatan proved that he could overcome most obstacles to a peaceful co-existence with the colonists. However, he was not able to change the belief that the colonists were superior to the Indians.

Why will you take by force what you may obtain by love? Why will you destroy us who supply you with food? What can you get by war? . . . We are unarmed, and willing to give you what you ask, if you come in a friendly manner. . . .

I am not so simple as not to know it is better to eat good meat, sleep comfortably, live quietly with my women and children, laugh and be merry with the English, and being their friend, trade for their copper and hatchets, than to run away from them. . . .


Take away your guns and swords, the cause of all our jealousy, or you may die in the same manner.