Pocahontas is one of the most iconic native Americans in history. Her story has etched its way into American folklore and she is regularly depicted as a princess and a hero in popular culture.
Despite dying when she was incredibly young, Pocahontas’s influence was massive. Here are ten interesting facts about Pocahontas.
Pocahontas Interesting Facts
1. Pocahontas’s birth year is unknown
Pocahontas’s exact date of birth is unknown. Many historians estimate that she was born sometime around 1596.
In a True Relation of Virginia, which was written by John Smith, he says that he first met Pochantos in the spring of 1608 and describes her as being around 10 years old. This has formed the basis of her estimated birth date.
2. Pocahontas was not her birth name
An interesting fact about Pocahontas is that that was given the name Amonute at birth and would be called Matoaka, though some other conflicting reports also suggest her name may have been Matoax.
Pocahontas was actually a nickname that was given to her during her childhood. The name Pochantos is said to mean ‘little Wanton’ or the playful one, due to her friendly nature as a young girl.
3. Pocahontas was the daughter of a chief
Pocahontas was the daughter of Powhatan, who was a paramount chief of the Powhatan tribe, which was an alliance between Algonquian-speaking tribes living in Tsenacommacah.
Powhatan is known as ‘chief’ or ‘king’ in English and he would have been an important figure during this time period.
4. Pocahontas saved the life of John Smith
While Pocahontas did a great many things during her life, a well-known fact about Pocahontas is that she saved the life of the colonialist John Smith.
Smith arrived in Virginia with 100 other settlers in April 1607 and the group would have several encounters with the Tsenacommacah people during their time there.
Smith was captured by Pocahontas’s brother in December 1607 and he would then go on to make a show out of Smith before taking him to meet his father. Smith’s version of the story is that he was then taken to Powhatan and that his head was placed between two rocks. Just as he was about to be executed, Pocahontas placed her head on him to protect, thus creating the legendary story.
5. Pocahontas was kidnapped by the English
In 1913, during the First Anglo-Powhatan War, Pocahontas was kidnapped by the sea captain, Samuel Argall.
Argall sent out a ransom to Pocahontas’s father, Powhatan, who refused to send all that had been requested, a decision that would later anger his daughter. As a result, Pocahontas was kept by the colonists on the settlement of Henricus. There she would learn about Christianity and English culture under the tutelage of Alexander Whitaker, a minister at the settlement. During this time period, she was also baptised with the name Rebecca.
This time period would prove to be life-changing for Pocahontas. She was treated with kindness by her captors and would also meet her future husband there.
6. Pocahontas married John Rolfe
Despite popular culture depicting a romantic relationship between Pocahontas and John Smith, this was not the case. Pocahontas was actually married to a man named John Rolfe.
Pocahontas first met her future husband during her time at Henricus, which was a settlement in Virginia. Rolfe was from England and was had started a tobacco plantation in the area. The pair would then marry in 1614.
Their marriage would bring about a period of peace between the colonists and the Native Americans which became known as the Pocahontas Peace.
They would have their first and only child, Thomas Rolfe in January 1615. Rolfe would later marry Jane Pierce after Pocahontas’s death in 1619.
Some reports suggest that Pocahontas has been married once before her marriage to Rolfe to a man named Kocoum, though, there is no solid evidence to back this up.
7. Pocahontas visited England to meet the Royal Family
When word of the peace that had been established in America reached England, the Virginia Company of England invited Pocahontas and her husband over to England as a display of their influence in the region.
During her stay in the country, Pocahontas was treated as a guest of honor at several social gatherings and met the King of England in the Chapel of Whitehall in 1617.
An interesting fact about Pocahontas is that she was presented as a princess and the daughter of a king during her time in England, though, this was not strictly true.
8. Pocahontas died in 1617
Pocahontas died in 1617 at the approximate age of just 21 years old. She was on a voyage with her husband John Rolfe that was returning to Virginia. Unfortunately, the ship only got as far as Gravesend in Kent when Pocahontas became incredibly ill. Pocahontas died once they left the ship.
The course of her death is unknown. Some have speculated that she may have been poisoned while other sources list pneumonia as the course of her untimely death.
Following her death, Pocahontas was later buried at St George’s Church in Gravesend. Parts of the church were destroyed some years later as a result of a fire but a bronze statue was erected at the church in her honor and is still there to this day.
9. Pocahontas in popular culture
The story of Pocahontas is a popular one in popular culture. Pocahontas is often depicted as a princess in these re-tellings and the relationship between Pocahontas and John Smith is often a romantic one.
The most famous adaptation of the Pocahontas story came in 1995 when Disney released an animated movie named after the character. There have also been several other film versions of her story.
There have also been several stage adaptations of the Pocahontas story as well as quite a few pieces of art depicting her as well.
10. Pocahontas’s role in modern America
Pocahontas is one of the most iconic women in the history of America and she is honored regularly today.
Notably, she was the first native American to be placed on the US postal stamp. There are several places and landmarks in America that have been named in her honor and she is viewed as a hero in American culture.
While popular culture may make some edits to the Pocahontas story, she is still widely recognised as a symbol of peace and bravery, not just in America, but throughout the world.
Her legacy is unwavering and she is widely regarded as one of the most important figures in the history of Native America.
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