Site of Powhatan's Village to Be on National Register of Historic Places

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The site of the village where Jamestown leader Capt. John Smith met the powerful Indian chief Powhatan and where Smith said the chief's daughter, Pocahontas, saved his life has been approved for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, officials said Monday.

Werowocomoco, on Purtan Bay along the York River in Gloucester County, was Powhatan's headquarters when Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in North America, was founded in 1607. Powhatan ruled over a native population of about 15,000.

"Werowocomoco is a place of native history that becomes part of American history during the Colonial period," said Martin Gallivan, assistant professor of anthropology at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg and a member of the Werowocomoco Research Group, which has been studying the site.

Smith and Powhatan met several times at Werowocomoco, the only place in Virginia where Smith and Powhatan were at the same location at the same time, said Randolph Turner, of the Virginia Department of Historic Resources and a member of the research group.

The village also is where Smith said that, after Indians kidnapped him in December 1607, Pocahontas threw her body over his to save him as Powhatan was about to club him to death. Some have questioned the veracity of Smith's account.

Werowocomoco was about 15 miles from Jamestown. Powhatan, seeking distance from Jamestown, abandoned Werowocomoco in 1609 and moved farther west.

Today, the 45-acre site is on private land. The property owners invited archaeologists to investigate after they found Indian artifacts, including arrowheads and pottery shards.

A comprehensive archaeological survey in 2002, following the leads of historians and others, confirmed the site's identity. Archaeological excavations have been ongoing since 2003.

The National Parks Service approved the site for listing on the National Register of Historic Places this month, Turner said.

To be listed, a site must meet criteria, such as association with significant historical events or people, or possession of outstanding archaeological or architectural features.

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