The Real Pocahontas
Pocahontas has always been my favourite Disney princess and is my favourite classic Disney animation, next to Lion King of course. When I found out that Pocahontas was not a fictional character, but in all actuality a figure in history, I was thrilled. At 9, I began doing research, looking for historical portraits and reading all I could about Pocahontas.
I had a Pocahontas doll, a few books (different versions of Pocahontas' stories) and I even wrote a play about her. I entitled it "The Truth about Pocahontas".
The Disney Animation
The Disney animation feature is the basic love triangle story. A beautiful Algonquin princess promised to a village hero by her father... but her heart belongs to the forbidden White man, John Smith. Pocahontas just happens to be able to speak English fluently to be able to communicate with John Smith. How? Well, her Grandmother Willow, whose spirit speaks through a tree told her to listen with her heart. After all, that's how Pocahontas is able to paint with all the colours of the wind, right?
Now, it sounds cheesy, corny, mushy and even boring but is quite the contrary. I love this movie. I currently own it on DVD and I put it on just to keep me company sometimes while I'm writing late at night. This is a good movie and close to the Historical story... but not so much.
After all, while I understand that Disney was trying to get us kids to understand that Native Americans are in tuned with nature, I don't believe that Pocahontas had the ability to speak to animals. I'm sure the Heron and the Otter were her friends, but talking to them? I don't think so. Her "pet" raccoon, Miko and her "pet" hummingbird, Flit were a cute addition though. I'm not complaining. :) Oh and let's not forget Ratcliffe's spoilt, overly pampered dog, Percy.
Movie: "The New World"
Because this movie isn't an animation, it isn't as magical as the Disney movie but it's more realistic. It stars Actors Colin Farrel as John Smith and Q'orianka Kilcher as Pocahontas. The New World is "A drama about explorer John Smith and the clash between Native Americans and English settlers in the 17th century" (IMDb).
The History - Pocahontas sees the Englishmen
A Native American Princess was born in c. 1596 in the Algonquin tribe. Also known as the Powhatans, after her father and Chief, Powhatan. She was named Matowaca and nicknamed Pocahontas, meaning “Frolicsome child,” “mischievous child,” or “spoiled child.” In 1607, she spotted White men for the first time when the English men landed in the Port of Jamestown in present day Virginia.
Her brother, Nantaquas, also saw the Englishmen and ran right away to tell their father. Chief Powhatan heard of the Englishmen and they began planning a way to drive them out. Pocahontas, watched them build houses and find food for days. Then, the day of the great Powhatan feast came. Pocahontas stood waiting for the captured leader of the Englishmen to arrive.
Below is an excerpt from the historically-accurate script that I wrote my freshman year of High School to make it a more interesting presentation for my History class:
*They go to the feast. Powhatan is sitting on his throne. Capt. John Smith is placed in front of him.
Powhatan, to the tribe – Does anyone have any complaints against this man? Has he harmed us?
Old man – We have not given him consent to enter our territory, yet he and his men have built houses and taken our food. Soon they will be taking our very houses and killing us with their fire sticks.
Powhatan – does everyone feel this way?
All – Yes.
Powhatan – then it is settled then, he shall be killed.
Pocahontas, standing up – No! You can’t!
Powhatan – how dare you speak out of turn, Pocahontas?
Pocahontas – father, how could you kill him? He has done nothing to harm us.
Old man – nothing yet.
Powhatan, to guards – kill him.
Pocahontas – No! (Lays on John Smith just as the guards are about to club him).
Saving John Smith
Not willing to risk hurting his daughter, Chief Powhatan ordered that Smith was left unharmed. Pocahontas asked to take Smith for her own, claiming that he could be of assistance to the tribe. Because she was the princess, the law stated that her wishes be granted.
At first, Pocahontas could not understand John Smith’s language but they became fast friends. She gave him the name Nantaquod. The Englishmen were free to stay but things did not go smoothly for them.
One day, Smith told Pocahontas that the Englishmen were growing hungry because they did not know the Native ways of acquiring food. Pocahontas volunteered to assist them and Smith made a deal to bestow gifts upon the tribe in return.
Pocahontas brought them food and in return, the English King sent Powhatan a huge bed, a red silk cape, and a copper crown. However, Powhatan was not amused. A year later in 1609, Powhatan had enough.
Pocahontas becomes Rebecca
Pocahontas was told that John Smith was dead. A year later, she married an Indian private captain by the name of Kocoum and then in 1612, she was kidnapped by another Englishman, Capt. Samuel Argall.
Argall told Powhatan that he would bring back his daughter if and only if he released his men. Powhatan, being the stubborn man he was, refused. Therefore, Argall refused to return Pocahontas.
In 1613, Pocahontas was brought back to her home but was under the instruction of Sir Thomas Dale. She was introduced to John Rolfe, educated and then converted to Christianity. She was then Christened with the name Rebecca. Then Sir Thomas Dale, grew tired of waiting for Powhatan to release his men.
Dale commanded his army of 150 men to invade the Native American territory. He was determined to get his men back. When Dale's men invaded the Powhatan tribe, they were attacked and so they burned down houses and killed Native American men.
Then in 1614, Pocahontas married John Rolfe.
Powhatan sent word and a pearl necklace with one of his tribesmen to tell Pocahontas that he wouldn't be able to make it to her marriage ceremony. The tribesman was to go in his place.
In 1618, Pocahontas found out that she was with child. Her son was named Thomas Rolfe. John Rolfe informed Pocahontas that the whole royal family, including the King and Queen of England were eager to meet her. There was to be banquets held in her honour. She was to be taken to theatres and treated like a true princess. --This is seen in the Disney Animation Pocahontas II.
In England, Pocahontas was confronted by an unexpected fate...
Pocahontas ran into John Smith in England! She was shocked because she was convinced that he was dead. Pocahontas was upset and ran from him. She was so emotionally confused that she hid for hours, refusing to speak. Then, when she was finally able to, she went back to John Smith.
Smith was so happy to see her again but Pocahontas refused to talk to him and she refused to be referred to as Pocahontas. She told him that her name was Rebecca and walked away.
The year after that, Pocahontas became home sick and had to be taken back to Jamestown.
However, Pocahontas was too ill and on the journey home, she died.
Some say she died of tuberculosis, come say of smallpox and some say of pneumonia but no one knows for sure.
Pocahontas' son,Thomas, headed back to England and when he was 20 years old he became an important part of the colonies.
Historical Tourist Site
In Jamestown, Virgina, Pocahontas' history is still preserved. I had the honour to visit the Official Jamestown Settlement when I was 9 years old. It was fun and educational, every parent's dream (since the kids are having so much fun that they don't know they're learning).
The exhibits include the following (and much more):
- The Powhatan Village
- Films and Galleries
- Jamestown Settlement Ships
- James Fort
- Riverfront Discovery Area
There are lots of "performances" by professionals who reenact the positions of Jamestown settlers, Native Americans, soldiers, pilgrims and many more. It's a great vacation to take, not to mention it's close to Williamsburg where you can go to Water County U.S.A. and Busch Gardens. So, for your next vacation, go to Jamestown, Virginia.
Princess and Warrior
I hope I've sparked your interest to learn more about this woman who was not only an Algonquin Princess, but a warrior. She fought for humanity while everyone else was against the Englishmen. That makes her a warrior.
For more information on the Official Jamestown Settlement, visit:
For more information about Pocahontas, visit:
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