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Did You Know That Pocahontas Actually Existed for Real?

Updated on May 29, 2020
Sandra Miliers profile image

Sandra, a hobby writer that loves creating essays about everything inside her head full of knowledge.

Origin of Pocahontas.

I remember when the Disney movie Pocahontas came out, the movie about the native american girl who ended up living among the settlers.

I have heard that story my whole life, but in Canada we were told (or at least me) that she was originally from somewhere Ontario/Quebec, and ended up in Virginia because of the British colonisors.

I actually for some reason started to research this, and it is not true.

She did exist for real.

The birthyear of Pocahontas is unknown, but it is estimated that she was born somewhere on or around the year 1596, and her birthplace would be in or around modern day Virginia, US. The reason we can estimate her age is because of two documents, one written in 1608 talking about her as a 10 year old, and another written in 1616, talking about her as a child of 12-13 years.

We know that she was the daughter of an indian cheftain of the Powhatan tribe, however, there are no records of who her mother would be. It is believed that Pocahontas was not her real name, it must have functioned more as a nickname, and is supposed to mean "little wanton", translated as "the playful".

According to later records, she was named at birth Matoaka, but did not reveal this to anybody until she had converted to christianity and changed her name to Rebecca.

She according to old documents was described as the only surviving daughter of the cheftain, and the apple of his eye, although because of the complicated succession rules of the tribes, not in line of succession.

Early marriage.

Pocahontas is said to have had a first husband with the name Kocoum, a husband that was killed by the colonizers in 1613. From that marriage, she was believed to have a daughter called Ka-Okee, a daughter that was raised by the Indian tribe.

Jamestown colony, Virginia.

We know that she lived close to the Jamestown colony that the settlers had created when arriving in the new world, as she would be a frequent visitor. She frequently went to the settlement to play with the boys and enjoyed their games. When she realized the settlers were starving, she brought them food in abundance.

In the settlement, she made friends with John Smith, a settler whom she later saved from death. It has been speculated if John Smith and Pocahontas had any intimit or amourous relationship, but nothing has ever been proven.

Capturation and interpretation.

In the summer of 1609, Pocahontas was captured as ransom, after a dispute between the settlers and the local native indians. She was taken to Henricus, Chesterfield county, Virginia. At Henricus, she met Alexander Whitaker, who taught her about christianity and helped her improve her english.

In March of 1614, there was yet another confrontation between the natives and the settlers where she acted as an interpreter. The Powhatan people severely devalued her, and afterwards, she decided to live with the settlers.

Meeting John Rolfe.

In 1613, she met John Rolfe. Rolfe was already married to Sarah, and the two had a child, Bermuda, however both of them died on a transatlantic journey. After his wife and child's death, Rolfe had established Varina Farms, cultivating a new branch of tabacco.

Rolfe now fell head over heals in love with Pocahontas, and 5th of April 1614, they got married, probably in Jamestown. In january of 1615, they had a son, Thomas.

Climate of peace. And England becomes interested.

The marriage created a climate of peace in the area, although it had been considered "unusual" at first. The peace lasted for 8 years, and is known as "the pocahontas peace".

The English now drew their attention to the British colony of Virgina. The colony now had a "converted princess" in Pocahontas, or Rebecca, as her new christian name was. Pocahontas and her husband were now invited to the grand salons in Britain, arriving in Plymouth 12th of June 1616. Later they continued to London by coach.

Royal status.

Although Pocahontas did not have royal status in her native land, as her father was the cheftain of a large tribe, she was treated as such. Pocahontas and her husband shifted between living in Brentford, Middlesex, and Rolfe's family home in Norfolk.

On the way back.

In March 1617, the couple boarded a ship to return to America, however Pocahontas became severly ill, and was taken to land, where she died. Cause of death is unknown. Her funeral was held March 21st of 1617. She is buried at St George's cementery, however nobody knows where her exact gravesite is.

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    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      14 months ago from UK

      This gives interesting background to the Disney film. I was aware that she existed, but not of all the details of her life.

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