They grew primarily maize and fished and hunted. The Pamunkey River provided them with transportation and fishing and a defensive view of river traffic (warring tribes). They moved around every ten years, so settlements were not permanent. They made made baskets, pots, cordage, wooden spoons, platters and mortars.
Men and women had equally important, but gender-specific roles. Women were responsible for agricultural cultivation and men were responsible for hunting. Men procured a dowry for the family of the woman they were to marry to compensate for their loss of a child-bearing woman and her contribution to their household labor needs. Self control was greatly valued among Powhatan Indians. Descent was matrilineal, passing through the mother's side. The Powhatan Chiefdom had more than 30 tribes, all with their own leader, and all under the paramount chief, Powhatan.