The real Pocahontas was nothing like the Pocahontas depicted in Disney’s 1995 animated classic. There are a multitude of ways that Disney lies about, or at the very least exaggerates, the life of Pocahontas, but they’re not the only culprits when it comes to spreading falsehoods about the Native American princess (who wasn’t actually a princess, by the way). The history of Pocahontas has been riddled with dramatizations, oversimplifications, and outright lies from the very beginning – and all of that dishonesty only adds to the tragedy that is Pocahontas’s true life story.
The truth about Pocahontas is infinitely sadder than the bright and cheery, wind-color-painting version presented in popular culture. Her interactions with English settlers were far less whimsical and musical than Disney would have you believe; it was instead the sort of violent and prejudiced interaction that we’ve come to expect from that era. Pocahontas herself is still an inspiring and important historical figure, but her actual life story is not a feel-good tale about the common threads between people of different backgrounds. Instead, it’s the exact opposite.
Pocahontas Was Kidnapped And Held For Ransom By The English
Pocahontas’s most significant interaction with the English was a lot less Disney-friendly than popular culture would have you believe, and it was far more indicative of the real relationship between colonists and Native Americans. Unhappy with Chief Powhatan, a group of English settlers paid a rival Native Ameriacn group to coerce Pocahontas onto an English ship so that she could be held for ransom. Captain Samuel Argall ordered her capture, and then compensated the Native Americans who helped him with a copper kettle for their troubles.
She Was Born Into Royalty – Kind Of
Pocahontas is known as being one of the main Disney princesses, but that is only partially true historically. Pocahontas was the daughter of Chief Powhatan, the head of a major alliance of Algonquin-speaking groups, which was one of the largest alliances in North America. The area he represented was known as the Tsenacommacah. However, Pocahontas had 26 brothers and sisters to share her status with, so she was far from the only royal child running around Tsenacommacah, even if she was reportedly the chief’s favorite daughter. The chiefdom did not share its power hereditarily, either, so the idea of Pocahontas being royalty is not exactly true.
Pocahontas Was Only One Of Her Names
Pocahontas is the most common name that we know this important historical figure by, but it might actually be the least formal name she held. “Pocahontas” was a mildly pejorative nickname that translated into something along the lines of “spoiled child.” She was also known as Mataoka for most of her childhood and later went by the name of Amonute. Then, after her conversion to Christianity, she became known as Rebecca – a name she would carry until her death.
The John Smith Story Is Likely BS
The tale most commonly told about Pocahontas might not even be a real story at all. Supposedly, Pocahontas saved the English colonist John Smith from execution at the hands of her father, and then the two went on to begin a romantic relationship. Apparently, the love between the two helped the European settlers of Jamestown get along with the Native Americans for a brief period.
But some question whether or not Smith was ever in any real danger, whereas others question whether the meeting ever even happened. John Smith earned the reputation of being a bit of an exaggerator, and there’s no direct evidence that his interaction with Pocahontas or her father ever occurred. Most sources believe that Pocahontas would have been about 11 years old when the meeting was said to have happened, which is far too young for a romance between the two.
Smith Only Linked Himself To Pocahontas After She Became A Minor Celebrity
John Smith didn’t write about his rescue by, or romance with, Pocahontas until more than 15 years after it supposedly happened. What’s more, Smith wrote plenty during and about the time period when his adventures with Pocahontas were said to have occurred, but failed to mention her at all. In fact, when Smith did finally write about her, she had already become a celebrity in England, thanks to her marriage to a different Englishman and her subsequent cross-ocean visit, which makes it pretty likely that Smith just crafted a lie to try to cash in on her fame.
Pocahontas Was Tatted Up And Had A Wicked Fashion Sense
When she hit adulthood at the frighteningly young age of 14, Pocahontas began to turn her eyes toward marriage. During her courting days, she was known to rock a fashionable and alluring one-strapped deerskin dress, which was a real hit with the fellas. She also began to cover her skin in traditional tattoos, making her look like quite the badass. Eventually, Pocahontas would journey to Europe, where she adapted to local fashion with aplomb and sported some pretty bitchin’ hats.
Pocahontas Was Already Married To A Local Warrior
If John Smith and Pocahontas did have any sort of romantic relationship, it is certain that they never joined each other in wedded bliss. Pocahontas did get married on two occasions in her life, including once at the age of 14 or so to a Native American warrior known as Kocoum. Little is known about Kocoum, but he appears to have been some sort of military leader and is referred to by some sources as a “captain.” Others suggest that Kocoum was one of Pocahontas’s father’s bodyguards. The fact that she did not marry a man of high political standing mean that she probably married Kocoum for love, but the marriage apparently did not last.
She Went On A Diplomatic Mission To Avoid War
While held for ransom in Jamestown, Pocahontas became inculcated in European customs, language, and religion. Her forced education made her a convenient diplomat and go-between for the English colonists to use in negotiations with Native Americans. Oddly enough, Pocahontas was sent to her father to defuse the tense situation that had begun with her own kidnapping. Pocahontas won peace by assuring her father that she was happy with the English and would rather stay with them than return home, an act that ultimately prevented more bloodshed between the two groups.
Pocahontas Became A Symbol Of Peace And Religious Conversion
Much of the mythology surrounding the story of Pocahontas can clearly be tied to the fact that she became a symbol of peace to the English. The fact that her conversion to Christianity came while she was a prisoner did not dissuade the Europeans from using her as a textbook example of the power of their religion and its ability to bring peace to diverse groups of people. Her assimilation into English culture became an impetus to insist that all Native American people should be converted to Christianity and “civilized” by whatever means necessary.
Pocahontas Gained Her Real Fame By Marrying An Englishman
Pocahontas did actually gain worldwide fame and historical notoriety because of a romantic relationship with an Englishman, but it was not John Smith. Rather, Pocahontas met a wealthy widower named John Rolfe during her time in captivity, and the two soon married. Rolfe was coming over to Virginia to farm tobacco, but he lost his wife and child on the journey across the ocean. The two were eventually married on April 5, 1614, and their son, Thomas, was born about a year later. The family lived on Rolfe’s tobacco farm for a number of years, and their steady marriage was yet another reason for sustained peace between the colonists and her father’s people. This was the first recorded interracial marriage in North American history.
Pocahontas Went On Tour As A Curiosity In England
After a few years of marriage, John Rolfe and Pocahontas, then known as Rebecca Rolfe, sailed back to England in 1616. The arrival of a Native American “princess” was much hyped, and she was described as the “daughter of the most powerful prince of the Powhatan Empire of Virginia.” She was treated as a curiosity by most, but she was relatively well-treated during a whirlwind tour of England. While there, Pocahontas was the guest of honor at some grand balls, attended plays, and even met the king and queen. She also reportedly ran into John Smith, but didn’t speak to him, giving further evidence that his story is bologna.
Pocahontas Died On Her Way Back To North America
After her whirlwind tour of England in 1616, Rebecca Rolfe was set to return to her home continent in 1617. Sadly, she would not make it back to Virginia, and in fact would not even make it to the ocean. While sailing down the Thames River, Pocahontas fell ill with an unknown sickness, which has been speculated to be pneumonia or dysentery. She and her family were taken ashore at the town of Gravesend, where Pocahontas would die at the age of 21. John Rolfe returned to Virginia alone, having left his also-ailing son back in England, and shortly after his arrival, his father-in-law, Powhatan, also died. The peace that Pocahontas had helped forge then slowly began to unravel.
Her Son, Thomas Rolfe, Became One Of The Wealthiest Men In The New World
Unlike his mother, Thomas Rolfe survived his sickness, and eventually returned to North America, although not for some time. His father, John Rolfe, died in 1622, but Thomas did not return to Virginia until 1635. Although the Powhatan Empire did not consider Thomas for the leadership role vacated by his grandfather, they did grant the son of Pocahontas thousands of acres of land along the James River. Thomas would use this inheritance to become the wealthiest tobacco farmer in the New World, and he also had a daughter, Jane, who ensured that Pocahontas’s bloodline would live on for generations to come.
(For the source of this, and many other interesting historical articles, please visit: https://www.ranker.com/list/facts-about-the-real-pocahontas/stephanroget/)