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Princess Cleopatra, Pocahontas’s Sister

June 26, 2018 , ,


Cleopatra married Opechancanough who was her father’s adopted brother and her adopted uncle

Matachanna traveled to England to be with her half-sister, Pocohontas, before she died. Matachanna went back to Virginia where she lived and died.

Cleopatra Powhatan the Shawano was born in 1590, near Jamestown colony, and died in 1680

Cleopatra Powhatan was half sister of Pocahontas

Going back to the era of John Smith . . . In the late 1500s/early 1600s a Powatan chief name Wahunsunacock [one of numerous variant spellings] had united some 30 Alonquian tribes into a powerful confederation. He had created the empire through conquest and alliances. He actually ruled as an emperor, not just a tribal chief. When the Jamestown colonists arrived, Wahunsunacock’s domain encompassed the entire region that was to become Virginia. Wahunsunacock did not use a title other than chief of the Powhatans. The colonists referred to him as simply “The Powhatan”, denoting his position as emperor over numerous tribal chiefs of the Powhatan nation. The Powhatan was not friendly toward the colonists, seeing them as encroachers.

Wahunsunacock’s younger brother, or half-brother, Opechanacanough, was the tribal chief who captured John Smith. He immediately took the captive Smith to Emperor Wahunsunacock who imposed the death sentence. Tradition holds that Wahunsunacock’s daughter Matoaka “LIttle Snow Feather”, nicknamed Pocahantas or “Playful One”, pleaded for her father to spare John Smith’s life. Pocahantas became an emissary between her father and the colonists and as such was instrumental in providing the food which saved them during the hard winter. The colonists, in turn, showed their appreciation by capturing and holding Pocahantas for ransom. After they had extracted the full ransom from Wahunsunacock, then they forged an alliance with him by marrying Pocahantas to John Wolfe, a planter in the Jamestown colony who is credited with introducing tobacco as a cash crop.

That much is familiar history. Then comes the chapter that is really relevant to our family. At the death of the elderly Wahunsunacock, his younger brother [it’s uncertain if he was a brother or a half-brother] Opchanacanough became successor to Wahunsunacock as emperor. As such, he is frequently also called The Powhatan. To distinguish between the two men I have chosen to use the technically accurate term “Emperor” for Wahunsunacock and “Chief” for Opechanacanough, since Opechanacanough was promoted from a “chief” to succeed Wahunsunacock who had forged the “empire”. In reading other histories, however, it is necessary to note that some writers use the term Powhatan for both brothers interchangeably which is unnecessarily confusing and actually incorrect. Sometimes I get the impression that some genealogy researchers do not grasp that they are two different men.

Emperor Wahunsunacock perhaps had hundreds of wives and children. Several of them are noted in historical documents, but none so well as Pocahantas and, to our benefit, her sister Cleopatra. Not only was Cleopatra a daughter of the Emperor, she was wife to the successor Chief/Emperor Opechanacanough. Now if you were paying attention and recall that Opehanacanough and Wahusunacock were brothers/half-brothers, you might realize that she was also Opechanacanough’s niece [or half-niece as the case may be]. They were a royal dynasty and keep in mind that the family lineage was preserved by most Native Americans, as they still do now, through the matriarchal line.

The relationship of Cleopatra and Pocahantas as full sisters is fully documented. After the death of Pocahantas, Pcahantas’ son had to apply for rights to get to visit his Indian relatives and in his written legal request specifically asks to visit his “mother’s sister Cleopatra” by name. Cleopatra obviously was not her Indian name, but rather what she was called by the colonists because since her husband was the successor ruling Chief/Emperor she was in fact Queen. The title seemed especially apropos to the colonists since not only was she Queen, but her exotic dark looks and elaborate trappings also seemed very regal, and reminiscent of the Egyptian queen.

Only I and probably 30 million other people descend from this royal hierarchy. While everyone is eager to prove their ancestry to Pocahantas because of her fame, Cleopatra was the only one to ascend to actual Queen. Pocahantas, for all her fame, was a mere Princess. The modern day Native American line of this family adapted the surname Powhatan from very early times.



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I have been working on my family ancestry line. Came to Pride Clalakahatha cornstalk. From there back the family line gets a little mixed up. Everyone has different information. Where did you get your information? Also were did that family name of Cornstalk come from? I have ran across this in other family ancestry lines. I could really use some help. Thanks Debbie


Debiraah Kirleis

April 21, 2020

Are there any documentation for Cleopatras children? According to an ancestry app I could be related as well but I would like to be able to prove it.



December 30, 2020

She is also my 13th great grandmother!


Katherine Hutto

February 27, 2021

I believe I am also a descendant of Cleopatra. I descend from Standing Turkey Old Hop Moytoy.

Liked by 1 person


October 6, 2021

I am a descendent of Jane Little too


Jill Nelson

February 28, 2022

She was my 13th great grandmother as well. Traced all the way down to my grandfather Lindley.


Carla Chapman

June 19, 2022

Cleopatra was my 10th grandmother. Thanks for the information!


Tina Cox

July 23, 2022

Cleopatra Shawano Powhatan was my 10 great-grandmother. From what I understand, she had a daughter named Sarah Elizabeth Skiffins. She married a White man named James Skiffins. They had a daughter named Elizabeth Skiffins who married a White man from Virginia named Reynard Anderson. Reynard is my 7th great-grandfather. My name is Eric Anderson his distant grandson and I live in the Philadelphia area. Please respond so we can discuss. My email is


Eric Anderson

September 1, 2022

I forgot to mention, I am an African American man. Centuries after Reynard Anderson married a Native American, his decendant Henry Anderson III illegally married a Black Slave girl named Betsy. She was my 4th great-grandmother. In the same timeframe during the late 1780’s on my mother’s side, Nathaniel Harrison, a White man from Virginia and first cousin of the 9th President of the United States, illegally married a Black slave girs named Franky Miles. She is my 4th great-grandmother on my mother’s side. It seems I am related to two former Presidents of the United States, William Henry Harison (9th) and Benjamin Harrison (23rd). Don’t forget Princess Pocahontas and Queen Cleopatra of the Pamunkey Tribe and daughters of the great Powhatan Chief Wahunsenacawh, my 11th great-grandfather. I need to contact family members that still live in Henrico and Amelia counties. My email is


Eric Anderson

September 1, 2022

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