The story of Pocahontas is legendary: Native American Princess saves early English settler’s life, they fall in love, she thinks he dies so she moves in with the English, converts to Christianity and marries another Englishman only to learn her original love was still alive. Pocahontas. Captain John Smith. Ring any bells? But do the bells in that story ring true? At all?
Pocahontas was a young Powhatan who was instrumental in the survival of the earliest English colonists and did live with them, but “princess”? Not exactly.
“Young woman?” How about little kid?
“Love with Captain John Smith?” Friendship, yes, love…not so much.
“Moves in with English?” Try imprisoned. “Pocahontas” wasn’t even always her name, she had several: Amonute, Matoake and Rebecca. “Pocahontas” was a nickname.
And that “colonist” thing? Let’s use “emigrant,” shall we? The English didn’t discover the land around the modern Chesapeake Bay on the eastern shores of the current United States, that land was already home to a very large nation of native American tribes all governed under the umbrella of the Powhatan Chiefdom and led by the Paramount Chief–the English stole it. Heck, they weren’t even the first Europeans to land in the area, the Spanish beat them by decades.
Pocahontas was the daughter of that chief. When she was about 11, John Smith and friends landed in her backyard and never left. In this episode we give you all the sides to that story from her birth up, through her imprisonment by the English, marriage to John Rolfe, influence on the economic home-run that was Virginia tobacco…all the way until her early death at the age of 21 when she was on tour in England.
TIME TRAVEL WITH THE HISTORY CHICKS
If you feel you must (and go in knowing the real story)
The diet of the early British settlers in the Powhatan territories was very limited…and ghastly. Smithsonian article about cannibalized girl, the Powhatan Chiefdom, and more about life in general for the Jamestown settlers.
Jamestown and Williamsburg, Virginia have a lot of of early American historical activity waiting for you (and don’t forget to #historychicksfieldtrip on Instagram):
You wouldn’t have to travel much farther to get to the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington or New York City.
And you could travel and travel and travel but you wouldn’t be able to get to the National Women’s History Museum because, well, it doesn’t exist…yet. Read about the efforts and how you can play a part in helping to establish this very important museum in Washington, D.C. as well as some great articles about women that need to be remembered. National Women’s History Museum
It’s a little cheesy, but kids might like this Virginia Department of Education video about the 11 currently recognized Virginia Indian tribes.
And, in closing, we leave you with the only good song from Disney’s Pocahontas…