He initially traded against the colonists before colliding together. The union of his daughter, Pocahontas, into a colonist led to another amount of peace that has been still in effect when Powhatan died in Virginia in April 1618. The Powhatan were a matrilineal society, so his right to be leader was inherited from his mom.
When he first became leader, Powhatan ruled about six tribes. Along with the Powhatan, these were the Pamunkey, the Arrohateck, the Appamattuck, the Youghtanund as well as the Mattaponi. Using both alliances and war, Powhatan would enlarge his influence to function as ruler of around 30 tribes. Each one had its own leader, known as a werowance, however in addition they replied to Powhatan. This meant they fought on his side in battles and paid him tribute.
The territory Powhatan commanded was called Tsenacommacah, or Tenakomakah. Tsenacommacah was made up of what’s now tidewater Virginia, the Chesapeake Bay’s eastern coast and perhaps southern Maryland. As its leader, Powhatan was loaded, which permitted him to have many wives and lots of children (one of which was a daughter, Pocahontas).