Name: ________________________________ Social Studies Seven/PD: _____
Due Date: Wednesday 10/15/14 HW – Link Between Two Worlds
Link Between Two Worlds
Native Americans often welcomed and helped Europeans who were having difficulty surviving in the Americas, even when the Europeans had settled on Native lands without permission. Pocahontas was one of many Native Americans who saved European explorers and settlers from death and starvation during the early years of European settlement. She saved the lives of many English colonists at the first English settlement in Jamestown, Virginia. In a way, she served as a link between the Native Americans and Europeans.
In 1608, the powerful Native American chief Powhatan captured Captain John Smith of the Jamestown Colony. According to Smith, at the end of three weeks, Powhatan ordered this “petty chief of the strangers" to be put to death. Smith then claimed that a remarkable thing happened:
At the very minute of my execution, Powhatan’s daughter Pocahontas hazarded (risked) the beating out of her own brains to save mine, and not only that, but so prevailed (pleaded) with her father that I was safely conducted (taken) to Jamestown. Historians did not question Smith’s story for centuries, but a closer examination of the details suggests that Smith, at best, was exaggerating what really happened (making up details to make the story more interesting). Powhatan may very well have made Smith a part of his own nation in an attempt to bring the English Colony under his authority. Most historians and Native Americans agree that this would have been a common practice and much more likely than Smith’s claim that he was in danger.
They also doubt that Smith was on the verge of being executed or that Pocahontas needed to save his life. Executing Smith would have led to a war that Powhatan did not want and several of Smith’s writings contain stories in which he was saved from death by young women. Such stories were quite popular in Seventeenth Century (1600’s) England.
After Smith’s release, during the winter or “starving time,” the 13-year-old Pocahontas visited Jamestown on a regular basis. She was welcome in the colony, for she brought both food and good cheer to the unhappy colonists. One colonist remembered her turning cartwheels all around the fort. She became a go-between for the Native Americans and the English. Pocahontas won the release of Native American prisoners in the English settlement and explained Native customs that caused fear among the English. Once, she even warned the English that her father was planning a surprise attack on the colony.
She was later held captive by the English and she learned the English language, converted to Christianity, (taking the Christian name Rebecca) and fell in love with colonist John Rolfe when she was 19. They were married in 1614 and were given a piece of land to live on by Powhatan. They had a son (Thomas) and their marriage created a bond between the English and Indians. For a while, fighting between the two groups came to an end.
In 1616, Pocahontas sailed for England with her husband, son, and 12 other Natives. The English gave parties and dances in her honor and she was presented to the King and Queen of England, who thanked her for the help that she had given the Jamestown Colony. Sadly, Pocahontas died during her visit. On March 21, 1617, the 21 year old Native American was buried in England, far from her homeland.
Original engraving of Pocahontas Painting of Pocahontas done in the 1800’s
Done in England in 1616 The artist has made her more “European” in look