Pocahontas

Who was Pocahontas?

Pocahontas was born in the modern-day area of Virginia in 1595. She was the daughter of one of the most powerful native Indian tribal chiefs in the region. Her name ‘Pocahontas’ was actually a nickname which meant ‘the naughty one’ in her native language.

By the time she grew up, English settlers were trying to establish their colony called Jamestown in the area. This often caused a conflict between native Indians and the English colonists.

Pocahontas became famous because she often helped both sides to come to peace and would aid the English settlers by providing them food and saving them from starvation.

Pocahontas as the Peace-Maker

Jamestown was the first successful English colony in America. But the colonists had to suffer many losses and often they almost died of starvation and hunger. On the other hand, native Indians including Pocahontas’ father saw the English colonists as a threat and fought them on some occasions.

So the relationship between the English settlers and the native Indians remained tense. Pocahontas played an important role in this regard by often bringing both sides to peace. She would sometimes help the English colonists without the knowledge of her father.

Pocahontas and Captain John Smith

Captain John Smith was an important person and a leader in the English colony of Jamestown. In one of the fights between the English and the native Indians, he was taken captive. According to some stories, Pocahontas’ father Chief Powhatan was about to have Captain Smith executed when Pocahontas reached the scene.

She requested her father to let go of Captain Smith and spare his life. After some arguing, her father agreed and Captain Smith was freed. He returned to Jamestown but remained a good friend of Pocahontas. Pocahontas also now regularly visited Jamestown, meeting other English settlers and sometimes bringing them food.

Captured by the English

In 1609, Captain John Smith had to return to England. He was an important person who, together with Pocahontas, improved the relationship between English settlers and the Indian tribes. But once he was gone, the relations worsened again.

Both sides started fighting again, often for the control of land and other resources. In one such fighting, Chief Powhatan captured some English prisoners. In another raid, English colonists captured Pocahontas and took her prisoner.

The English told Chief Powhatan that he could have his daughter back in exchange for the captured English prisoners. Although Chief Powhatan eventually agreed, Pocahontas had fallen in love with an English settler called John Rolfe. So she didn’t return to her father and instead married Rolfe.

Marriage and Travel to England

Pocahontas married John Rolfe in 1614. After a few years, both travelled to London. Pocahontas was one of the first native Indians to come to London. She was treated like a celebrity and attended many parties and important events.

She even met the English monarch King James and Queen Anne. In London, she got to meet her old friend, Captain John Smith. In 1617, Pocahontas and John Rolfe prepared to sail back to Jamestown but Pocahontas fell ill and died.