Left: A close-up of one of the
totems whose face was painted red
(one of the colors if the Four
Directions). Powhatan totems were
thought to be carved portraits of
important people. They were never
worshiped but represented the
location of the ceremonial dance
area. The color red represents,
blood, the sun and the East, where
life began. Most Native American
nations in this hemisphere honor  
the four colors of the cardinal points
on the compass.
Red = The East,
where life in the universe began.
Black =  The  West, where the sun
White = The cold North,
represents  the color of death.
Yellow = The South, honors the
origin of  the warm winds. Some
Native Americans have a fifth color
that represents The Center (it may
be blue or green, depending upon
the culture). Four was an important
number to many indigenous
Americans since it could mean the
Four Winds or two sets of twins (for
those to whom twins were
Above: Seven of eight traditional Powhatan totem poles in the
Powhatan Village at the Jamestown Settlement Park, Jamestown, VA.
Rose Powhatan (Pamunkey/Tauxenent) and Michael Auld (Taino) made
the totem poles for the installation. The totems are based on research
from the original 1585 watercolor paintings by John White. The original
John White paintings are in the British Library, London, England.

Below: Indians Dancing-1585 , a watercolor painting by John
White,  artist and later, governor of the lost colony of Roanoke, Virginia.
This painting was the first image to capture an Algonquian dance activity
that the English called a "
powwow" (from the Powhatan Virginian
Algonquian word
pau-wau or paw-waw, for a curing dance done by a
shaman) Today, a
powwow is a pan-Indian word for a social, public
festival (See Powhatan Words below).
Above: Six contemporary Powhatan History totems
originally erected in the late 1980's at the Vienna Metro
Station, Virginia.  The totems range in height from 4 feet to
9 feet. The front surfaces are fire-engraved and some are
embellished with red dye. Each totem represents a period
in the history of the Powhatan People. Shown here (L-R)
are: (a) The shortest totem, which represents the "Eastern
Woodlands Origin Myth"; (b) The tallest totem, which
represents the "Old Dominion" (a copper Seal of Virginia is
shown on the back of  "Turtle Island", the Native American
name for the United States). Under Turtle Island are the
flags of the nations that later populated Virginia; (c) The
back of the "Pocahontas Story" totem.; (d) The "Treaty
Story" totem, which commemorates the Treaty of 1677.
Left: Contemporary Powhatan Totems.
R-L (1)The "Eastern Woodlands Origin Myth" totem
features  Michabo the Great Hare. "In the beginning,
Michabo the Great Hare went hunting with his wolf
friends. They noticed that the waters of the rivers
began to rise and flood the land..." The story continues
with the waters of all the rivers flooding the entire
planet. Each pictograph image line of the totem relates
a segment of the entire origin story. The final line ends
with the creation of men and women from the mystical
union of the Great Hare with one of his female animal
(2)The "Attan Akamik" totem has an Algonquian name.
Its English title is "Our Fertile Country", which gives
thanks to the Creator for making all things in Nature
that help us to survive in harmony with each other.
Pictographs depict good weather, animals and plants.
(3)The "Pocahontas Story" totem gives an overview of
an incident related by John Smith in his "best-selling
adventure book" narrative. Pocahontas is featured.
Powhatan Words
The Taínos
ZUM-ZUM is a series of illustrated encounters of Zumi Kolibri, the brilliant Caribbean Taíno
hummingbird. Her dream is to educate everyone about the indigenous items from the
Caribbean that, after 1492, made a great impact on world cultures. The Taíno were the first
indigenous Americans to encounter Christopher Columbus and his Spanish sailors in 1492.
Many Taíno words, ideas and customs commonly used today, entered world languages via  
Spanish. For example, from the Taíno word
huraca'n the Spanish derived huracan that
entered English as

ZUM-ZUM: One ancient Taíno name for the hummingbird. The sound made by the
hummingbird's wings.

Kolibri: Another Taíno word for hummingbird.
Ta (as in "tar")-ee-no: is an adjective used as a noun by some indigenous people of the Caribbean who differed
from their linguistic cousins, the Island Caribs (or Kalinago). The word may first have been recorded in Spanish
on Columbus' second voyage. During an incident off the coast of Ay Ay (St. Croix) on Tuesday, November 5,
1493, some captives taken from Boriken (Puerto Rico) by Caribs, told Columbus' men that they were "Taíno".

Although population estimates vary, Father Botolome de Las Casas, a conquistador turned Dominican priest who
lived among the Taíno, believed that there were six million of them in 1492. They were the first people to
encounter Christopher Columbus when he arrived in the Americas (specifically, the Caribbean). Their territory
included the Bahamas, Cuba, Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic), Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and parts of
the Lesser Antilles. They also had trading outposts in Central America and Florida.

The Taíno were matrilineal and traced their line of descent through the mother. The four classes in Taíno society
were: (a)
Cacique (ka-see-kay) or chieftens. (b) Bohique (bo-he-kay) or priests/healers. (c) Nitaíno
(nee-ta-ee-no), the "upper class" of the Taíno society. It means the "nobles". This was the class of the sub-chiefs.
(d) The class below the nobles was the
Naboria, "commoners" or the common people. The Taíno islands of the
Greater Antilles were divided into large chiefdoms under the governance of a cacique. A cacique often had many
chiefs under his or her rule.  
Copyrighted 2007 by Auld/Powhatan
The Powhatans
(Left, a pictograph story fragment) "Indian braves
came across a European standing in shallow

Pictographs provide a visual way of communicating
information through "picture writing" instead of writing
with letters of an alphabet.

These illustrations are part of a story that uses
pictographs (pictures that have word meanings) to tell
about Captain John Smith's capture by the Pamunkey
Indians. He met Pocahontas for the first time during his
capture, when he claims she saved his life.

"Write" a pictograph story about yourself!
The Powhatan's language is not dead. Algonquian was the language of the first indigenous
Americans to intimately interact with the English. Their words below survive in the English

Caucus: From corcas. From caucauasu or "counselor". First recorded by Captain John Smith. Today, it
is a political meeting to make decisions.
Chipmunk: From chitmunk.
Hominy: Corn.
Honk: From honck or cohonk, a Canadian goose. It is associated with the sound made by the bird, or
associated with winter or a year. The Powhatans called the "Potomac" River "the River of the Cohonks"
for the noise made by the yearly arrival of the geese there. To honk, honky, and honky tonk all come
from cohonk.
Match coat: From matchcores, skins or garment.
Maypop: From mahcawq, a vine with purple and white flowers that has an edible yellow fruit.
Moccasin: From mohkussin, a shoe.
Muskrat: From mussascns.
Opossum: Also possum. From aposoum, or "white beast".
Papoose: An infant or young child.
Pecan: From paccan.
Poke weed:
From pak, or pakon, blood + weed.
Pone (Corn Pone): From apan, "baked".
Powwow: From pawwaw. An Algonquian medicine man. A dance ceremony used to  invoke divine aid in
hunting, battle, or against disease. Now used as a Pan-Indian word for a social dance festival.
Racoon: From aroughcun.
Susquehanna: From suckahanna, water.
Terrapin: From toolepeiwa.
Tomahawk: From tamahaac, tamohake, a weapon. From temah- (to cut off by tool) + aakan (a noun
Tump (tump line): A strap or string hung across the forehead or chest to support a load carried on the
Powhatan Museum
of Indigenous Arts and Culture
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The indigenous people of the Caribbean were the first people in the
Americas to encounter Europeans in 1492, when Christopher
Columbus landed on the Taino island of Guanahani (San Salvador,
in the Bahamas).
Odi, you should not
call them
...So, what should I call them?
They called themselves
BACK Taíno & Carib
                          "ALL ABOUT ME"

There are many different ways to record information or send messages through the use of visual
symbols. This exercise in "writing" an autobiographical "Picture Story" can be adapted to fit the
needs of children of all ages. Feel free to modify the questions to fit your target audience.
(Please note: If a child is too young to write answers to questions that are silently read on an individual basis,
read the questions out loud. Allow children the opportunity to "short-cut" by drawing their answer symbols
without writing the answers first.)

Answer the questions.     Draw picture symbols to represent the written answers.     Color and finish.

1.   Are you a boy or girl?  or  Are you a male or female?

2.   What month of the year were you born in?  or  What is your special personal symbol?

3.   Where is your "special place?  or  If you could travel to a special place, where would it be?

4.   What are four of your favorite colors?  or  Which four colors are you most attracted to?

5.   What do you want to be when you grow up?  or  What future career do you plan to pursue?

6.   What are five things you like to do?  or  What are five of your most interesting activities?

7.   Do you smile a lot, act serious, or frown a lot?  or  What type of mood are you usually in?

8.   What season of the year do you like best?  or  Which of the four seasons do you prefer?

9.   Are you an "early bird" or an "evening owl"?  or  Do you prefer morning or evening hours?

10. What is your favorite holiday?  or  What is your most memorable day of the year?
Powhatan Totem Poles
Traditional and Contemporary
(4)The "Powhatan" totem gives honor and respect to the paramount chief of the "Powhatan Confederacy" (as
it was called by later historians). Powhatan, the father of Pocahontas, headed the 34 Indian nations' alliance
at the time of  Historic Jamestowne's founding by the English.