jamestown heading

I. Native Women

II. First Women

III. More Women

IV. Cash Crop

V. Women's Lives

VI. Indentured Servant

VII. Wives

VIII. Living Condition

IX. Family LIfe

X. Women's Work

XI. Fate of Jamestown


I. Native Inhabitants

Over the centuries, women acquired knowledge of the natural world to produce almost everything their families needed. They understood what plants and animals were nutritious -- and which were deadly poison. They developed dyes, medicines, pottery, cloth, and jewelry. Women used natural materials to make colored paints for tattoos that adorned both women and men. Clay was used to make both pottery and beads. The beads were embroidered on deerskin clothing and could also be used to make jewelry for the maker or for high-ranking women in the community.

Cultivation of crops was essential for the survival of the tribe. Pamunkey women tilled the soil and planted such crops as tobacco, corn, beans, and various squashes. These crops, new to Europeans, would fundamentally change the world’s diet. Planting corn was seen as an honorable task in Native American culture because of its many uses. Because women grew, harvested, and processed the corn, women owned it. Although Europeans settled in Virginia looking for gold, corn and tobacco would be the real treasures that they discovered from the Pamunkey.

Crops cultivated by the Pamunkey tribe
Crops cultivated by the Pamunkey tribe

click on image for larger view
Credit: Virtual Jamestown, Virginia
Center for Digital History, UVA

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