The Tribal Princess – Pocahontas

Image Credit: Flickr User yensid1998, via CC

Image Credit: Flickr User yensid1998, via CC

Who was Pocahontas?

Pocahontas, a young tribal girl from Virginia, is an important person in history because she was the first Native American to travel to England. This is a big event in history. Let us read her story today.

Pocahontas was born to the tribal chief Powhatan, who was the leader of various tribes that lived in what is today known as Virginia in The United States. Pocahontas was his favorite daughter. She was fun loving and carefree. But being a Chief’s daughter didn’t mean that she didn’t have to work hard. In those times, all girls had to learn to cook while the boys trained to handle weapons and hunt.

One day a ship anchored on the coast of Virginia. A group of around 100 British men disembarked the ship. They had traveled all the way from England and migrated to a new land. People migrate to explore and in sometimes in search for better things. In this case, Englishmen had migrated because they wanted to practice their religion freely in a new land. The Church in their country imposed many restrictions on how they should practice their religion. Also, they wanted to explore a new place. Do you know even animals and birds migrate? Can you find out why? The English people felt sea sick because of many days of the sea travel. They were pleased to step on land. They called their little settlement Jamestown probably after King James I who was the King of England at that time.

Native Americans were not very happy about presence of foreigners on their land. Pocahontas encouraged her fellow tribals  to like new people and help them settle. Remember, she was around just 11-12 years of age then! Natives shared their food with foreigners and taught them to hunt animals and farm maize. Pocahontas often visited Jamestown. She was intelligent and gradually learned some English. She always tried to keep the peace between the English settlers and her tribes.

Despite her efforts, after a few years things turned sour between the natives and the settlers. By the time she turned 18, natives and English settlers were fighting with each other, probably for ownership over land. In an unexpected move, settlers Kidnaped Pocahontas and held her hostage. They wanted her father to release English prisoners of war in exchange for her daughter. Do you think after how Americans helped the colonists settle in their land, they should have done this?

Sometime during her long custody, Pocahontas converted to Christianity. During this period, she also met an English colonist named John Rolfe, who was a tobacco planter. She liked him, and soon they both married. Her marriage to John helped in ending the war.

Pocahontas traveled to England with her husband. There, she dressed in fine clothes like other English ladies. She became famous. People wanted to meet and see the tribal woman, who had helped the colonist settle in America. They were in awe of the American Indian, who had now become one of them. Even King James I met her.

After a few months, it was time for Pocahontas and her family to return to America. On her way back, she contracted smallpox. Sadly, she couldn’t make it back to Virginia. She was only 22 years old when she died.

Her story is very inspiring! It tells us that we don’t have to be big to make a big difference. We can be ordinary but do extraordinary things!!


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