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21 Pocahontas Facts: Learn About The Person Behind The Disney Movie

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Pocahontas facts will tell you more about her father, the respected Algonquin Indian Chief Powhatan.

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Pocahontas was a little Native American girl who played an essential part in bridging the relations between the Native Americans and British colonizers.

Pocahontas was born as the daughter of the chief of the tribal group of people called Powhatan. The birthdate of Pocahontas is not clear, but several historians estimate that she was born around the years 1595 or 1596.

Her father was a powerful leader of a tribal group who resided near the Chesapeake Bay, where Norfolk and Virginia Beach are located.

There are no proper records that give detailed information about the childhood of Pocahontas. Most of her biography has been constructed from the memoirs of the British colonizers who were in America at the time. It has been found that Pocahontas was not even her real name, as her real name was ‘Amonute’. The name Pocahontas was more like a nickname, which can be translated to ‘playful one’ or someone who was curious and jovial by nature. Pocahontas is described to be a brave woman, who was able to bridge two conflicting cultures with each other when the times were changing and both of these cultures were in conflict with each other. Pocahontas maintained the relations between her tribal group who lived in Virginia and the British colonists who lived in the Jamestown colony in around 1607.

Fun Facts About Pocahontas

Several accounts suggest the Pocahontas was not her real name, rather it was a nickname. It is believed that her name was Amonute, which was given to her at birth. Sometimes she is also referred to as Matoaka, which translates to ‘a flower between two streams’.

Pocahontas can be translated to mean ‘playful one’ but it is also said to mean an ‘ill-behaved child’. One account of a British colonizer describes Pocahontas as being a very playful and energetic child, who often preferred to play with boys.

Pocahontas was also known to be her chief father’s favorite daughter, who often referred to her as his ‘delight’ or ‘darling’. She was also very kind because she bought food for the English colonists during the drought of 1609 to help save them from starvation. She also helped with negotiations several times, as, during her association with John Smith, Pocahontas had picked up speaking the English language which often came useful while making settlements. This also helped her tribe as she released many Powhatan prisoners as well as English prisoners during the ongoing fights and abductions. Lastly, Pocahontas became the first Native American woman to be honored on a United States stamp in 1907.

Pocahontas' Role In The Native American Story

It is believed that Pocahontas was raised like every other daughter in the tribal settlement, where she learned to make fire, cook, and search for food in the forest from a young age.

When she was around the age of 10-13 years old, her father, the Chief of Powhatan had taken captive a colonist named Captain John Smith. It is believed that the Native American tribe was about to kill him when Pocahontas intervened and stopped his execution. That is how she got acquainted with Captain John Smith, from whom she picked up English too.

Her act of saving the colonist later improved the relationship between the Powhatan tribe and the colonists in Jamestown. They conducted peaceful trade with each other for a while, and it is also said that Pocahontas often visited Captain John Smith. A few years later, he got injured in a gunpowder explosion and moved back to England. During the drought, Pocahontas visited the English colonists often during the drought and helped them by supplying them with food. It is believed that sometime later, the relations between the two groups turned bad as both the groups started abducting and holding many people captive from the other group. During these times, Pocahontas was sent to negotiate with the Britishers and help free her tribal people.

When Pocahontas turned of marriageable age, she stopped coming to the English camp, and it is believed that she was married to a Native American man named Kocoum. It is believed that as he was a warrior, he disappeared a few years after marriage, which was then considered as death during a battle. Some historians also suggest that Pocahontas also had a baby from her first marriage.

Sometime in 1613, violence broke out between hundreds of colonists and Powhatan men. Pocahontas was kidnapped by an English sea captain named Samuel Argall, in order to barter her with the Chief Powhatan in exchange for some English prisoners. These prisoners were being held by the Powhatan camp, and after discovering that his daughter had been abducted, the chief Powhatan took almost three months to agree to the exchange.

While Pocahontas was being held by the English colonists, she was taught about Christianity in order to convert her. Subsequently, she converted to Christianity and adopted the name ‘Rebecca’. During this time, she also met a widower and a tobacco planter named John Rolfe, with whom she fell in love with. Due to him, Pocahontas decided to stay with the Britishers even after the chief Powhatan had negotiated for her exchange. Pocahontas, or Rebecca, soon married John Rolfe in April 1614, and took the name, Rebecca Rolfe. Their union was considered as a step towards establishing better relations between the Native Americans and the British colonists. About a year later, Pocahontas had a baby whom they named Thomas Rolfe.

Pocahontas story was believed to be an Indian princess from Colonial America.

Facts About Pocahontas' Tribe

The tribe to which Pocahontas belonged was not just a small tribe of a few hundred people, rather it was a confederation of several native American tribes which lived in eastern parts of Virginia.

Also known as the Powhatan tribe or Powhatan empire, it consisted of more than 30 Algonquian-speaking tribes. Due to their language, they are also known as Virginia Algonquians.

Pocahontas’ father was the chief of all of these tribes, which also made her a princess of sorts. It is believed that being a princess might have given several privileges for Pocahontas, but she was also raised like every other girl in the tribe. She played with all the other kids and learned skills like hunting, gathering, cooking, and cleaning from a young age. The tribal society had divided the work between men and women in different ways, both of them being necessary for the functioning of the community. Surprisingly, in all records, there is no mention of the mother of Pocahontas, which has led many to believe that she could have been of low status, or could have died while giving birth to Pocahontas.

Facts About Pocahontas The Movie

A Disney animation film named ‘Pocahontas’ was released in 1995. Although the film was a success, many people have critiqued that several facts in the movie have deviated from the true facts. One of them is that in the movie, Pocahontas and John Smith share a romantic relationship, which did not happen in real life.

As the film was released in June 1995, it falls around the same time when Pocahontas was believed to be born. As there are no records, it is believed from available records that Pocahontas’ birth year was 1595 or 1596. Hence, the movie was released on Pocahontas’ 400th birthday. Although she appears to be about 20 years old in the movie, Pocahontas was much younger when the events actually took place. She also died quite young, only when she was about 21 years old.

The singing voice of Pocahontas in the Disney film 'Pocahontas' was performed by Judy Kuhn who was a theatre actress, while her spoken voice was performed by a Native American woman named Irene Bedard. Disney hired native American historians and consultants in order to check the historical and Powhatan culture facts, but still, the story ended up being inaccurate.

It is quite a famous fact that 'Pocahontas' and 'The Lion King', two of Disney’s masterpieces were being created around the same time. Many Disney animators had to choose which project they preferred to work on, and it was found that Pocahontas’ popularity was much more than The Lion King, mainly because of the fact that it was rooted in cultural history. It took about five years to complete the whole film, and almost 55 animators worked on the character of Pocahontas.

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The Kidadl Team is made up of people from different walks of life, from different families and backgrounds, each with unique experiences and nuggets of wisdom to share with you. From lino cutting to surfing to children’s mental health, their hobbies and interests range far and wide. They are passionate about turning your everyday moments into memories and bringing you inspiring ideas to have fun with your family.

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