Indian Lives Changed by Jamestown Settlers

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Pocahontas Powhatan Opechancanough, tells the story of the interactions between the Jamestown settlers and the Powhatan Indians, and how the European arrival changed the lives of the natives. the book focuses on the three Indians it is titled for and tries to explain the story of Jamestown through a less Anglo-biased view. At many times the book contradicts the story most people know of the Jamestown settlement and the major players involved. Throughout the book, author Helen Rountree goes to great lengths to tell the whole story truthfully, and when she can't give the whole story she makes it clear as to what is accepted to be true.

Rountree starts the book by "setting the scene," she introduces the Indians and attempts to explain the complexities of the Powhatan society. This may be the hardest part of the book for most readers to follow, because the system of leadership and the leadership line is quite complicated. It is explained the Powhatan, the king of the Powhatan people, ascended to the throne through a matrilineal system, Powhatan being his mothers oldest son would rule first, then his next brother and so on. Once his mother had no more sons to rule leadership would be passed on to the son of his mothers eldest daughter, and so on. This system, while difficult to understand is easily justified; a man could possibly have two children at the same instant but no matter what a woman can only have one child at a time.

After the explanation of the chiefly lineage the book goes on to introduce more of Powhatan's family, and Powhatan himself. Powhatan had a very large family, with many sons, daughters and wives. The book explains that by having many children and wives Powhatan was able to extend ties out to far...

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...Indian Lives Changed by Jamestown Is a very well thought out and put together book. With the index of terms and bibliography it looks and feels like a text book, but it reads like a story book. It tells a very fascinating story in an effective yet entertaining way. Calling the English smelly people and olfactorily objectionable adds a light heartedness to a sad story. The book portrays both groups of people in a fair light and doesn't pull any punches for either side. There is so much information in the book that surely in one reading much is missed, overlooked, or forgotten. It is a highly enjoyable, and educational book well worth the time needed to decipher the complexities of the situations presented throughout the story. The only major downfall of the book is that it ends sadly with the death of Opechancanough while being held captive by the English.

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