The Native American Chief Who Drove Out Spanish Colonists—and Nearly Expelled the English


In the summer of 1561, Spanish explorers abducted a Powhatan Indian youth from the Chesapeake Bay tidewater region and brought him to the royal court of Spain. The kidnapping set off a chain of events that would alter the course of American colonial history.

The abduction itself wasn’t unusual, since the Spanish in America often trained Native youth to serve as interpreters, or pressed them for information about local peoples and perhaps the whereabouts of gold or silver. But “Paquiquineo,” as Spanish officials rendered the young man’s name later that year, would in time re-emerge as Opechancanough, the most formidable warrior chief encountered by Europeans in 16th and early 17th century Virginia.


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