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The Powhatan Informational Chapter Book

Illustrated Chapter Book

The Powhatan: The Past and Present of Virginia’s First Tribes

Danielle Smith-Llera

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Smith-Llera, Danielle. The Powhatan: The Past and Present of Virginia’s First Tribes.

     Capstone Press, 2016.

Counter Narrative Connections

This middle-grade, informational chapter book is a short introduction for children to learn about the Powhatan nation, as it was in the early 1600s and as it exists today. The book is organized like a mini-textbook, with glossary terms and photographs of historical and contemporary Powhatan objects and artifacts scattered throughout. Facts about Powhatan history are interspersed with connections to contemporary Powhatan communities. The book includes chapters on Powhatan culture, Powhatan struggles with 1600s English colonists and modern United States government, the structure of the Powhatan nation today, and ways in which the Powhatan continue to connect with their history through art and tradition.


In the context of the Pocahontas story, this book will help provide children with an understanding of Pocahontas as a girl who was part of a rich community and thriving culture, a community that exists to this day. Unlike many history books which describe Native American communities as lost historical artifacts, this book repeatedly centers the contemporary Powhatan nation. Reading about the Powhatan nation’s history and culture will disrupt the master narrative that the 1600s Powhatan nation was simplistic, that Virginia was only casually inhabited at the time of John Smith’s arrival, and that Powhatan nation history is one of the past.

Teaching Prompt

Make a list of the bold terms in the book used to describe the Powhatans (e.g. ancestors, tradition, confederacy, council). How have we heard these terms used at other points in United States history? How might you use these terms to describe your own community?

Adjacent Topics

  • Socially Determined Ideas of Community

  • Pre-Colonialist America

  • Textbook Reading Skills (maps, images, bold words)

  • Tone in Writing (and how tone is used differently for different subjects, such as Anthropology)

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