The Abduction and Murder of Pocahontas, Part 3 — Plus Give-Away


Welcome to another Terrific Tuesday.

For any of you who have been following my posts about the true story of Pocahontas — a true American heroine — this is the last in a series of three.  For anyone who has not been following the story, or who want to go back and read through the earlier posts so that this make more sense, here are the links:

As a quick overview, here is what we’ve learned so far:  Pocahontas was too young to have had a romance with John Smith.  We also learned that John Smith was adopted into Powhatan society.  In my last post I showed that she was abducted by the English and forced to live with them.  According to Pocahontas — who confided this to her sister — she was raped and was pregnant.  It is believed, however, that she was not married to the man who did this to her…Thomas.  Instead she was married to a man who could prove to be useful to the Colony if he could obtain secrets from the Powhatan people to turn those secrets to profit.  Note again, her son’s name was Thomas, not John.  Here below is the final installment of this story.

“According to …sacred oral history, the Native people of the New World possessed the knowledge of how to cure and process tobacco successfully.  The Spanish gained this knowledge from the Native communities they had subdued.”  THE TRUE STORY OF POCAHONTAS.

But, here might be exactly what the English were looking for to end the financial worries that had plagued the English settlement.  The growing of tobacco and its curing methods might, indeed, provide the means to put the problems that had plagued the colonists for so long.

Because of Pocahontas’ marriage to an Englishman, the priests’ concern over the sharing of their secrets concerning the curing of tobacco seemed to be placated.  However, oral history points out that the efforts of the Powhatan priests to help the English had the opposite effect of what the priests had hoped for, meaning that the priests had wished to persuade the English into becoming friendly and a part of the tribe.  But, instead of the English embracing the Powhatan people as brothers, it appeared that the new success unleashed an extraordinary rash of greed on the part of the newcomers.  Tobacco became the gold of the New World.  As a result, more Powhatan lands were trespassed and more killing ensued.  Additionally, more of the American Indian people became enslaved by the newly “successful” Englishmen.

But, back in the Colony, it was agreed that it was time to go back to England.  The infamous Captain Samuel Argall (who had abducted and kidnapped Pocahontas) captained the ship that was to take Rolfe, Pocahontas, their son and members of the Powhatan tribe to England.  The reasons for the trip were many:  finances were needed to refinance Jamestown, merchants needed to talk to the colonists to ensure more success, but perhaps the most important reason for going back to England was that public approval was needed in order to secure the colony.

Pocahontas provided a means to “show” the English people that the people of Jamestown and the natives were on friendly terms.  Pocahontas’s sister, Mattachanna and her husband accompanied Pocahontas to England, as did several other Powhatan people.  It had appeared to the Powhatan people that with so many of her own countrymen surrounding her, there would be safety in numbers.  Wise men and priests, however, advised Wahunsenaca not to let his daughter go to England; they said that she would never return.   But how could he stop it?  She was already in the hands of the Englishmen, who could kill her or use her in a bad way.  He considered a rescue too risky.  She might die.

In the end, Pocahontas went to England.

It was in England that Pocahontas’s “eyes were opened” to the truth.  Up to that time Pocahontas hadn’t known that she was being used as a pawn might be used in a game of chess, because she didn’t really understand the English or what drove them to do what they did.  But, Pocahontas was far from being a chess piece.  She was a flesh and blood heroine.

What opened her eyes was a meeting she had with John Smith.  It was because of this meeting that she learned she had been lied to: he was not dead.  Moreover, she discovered that he had utterly betrayed her father and her people because he had taken a solemn oath to her people to represent them to the English; he had promised her father that he would bring the English under the power of the Powhatan.  She learned he had never intended to honor his word, that he had used her father and her people to simply get what he wanted.

Pocahontas was outraged and she directed her rage toward Smith at their meeting.  Understand, she was not angry because of any lost love or any young girl crush on the man.  Rather she had been alerted to the truth: that this mad-man had betrayed her father and her people.

It is known to this day through oral tradition that it was with horror that Pocahontas learned what John Smith’s true intentions had been toward her people — had always been toward her people: to take their lives, their lands and everything they held dear.

Pocahontas now longed to go home and inform her father of all she had learned.  She intended to do exactly that.  Unfortunately, she let that be known to the wrong people and the wrong man.  While we don’t know what John Smith did or whom he told of his “talk” with Pocahontas, we can surmise from the evil that followed the “talk,” that he told Pocahontas’ words to those who stood to lose money on their investments, and/or those who stood to gain from the merchants’ investments: i.e., Dale, Rolfe and Whitaker or some other merchants. 

Meanwhile, the whole party set sail back to England in the spring of 1617 with Samuel Argall again as the captain of the ship.  That evening Pocahontas, Rolfe and Argall dined in the captain’s chamber.

“Pocahontas quickly became ill.  She returned to her quarters by herself, sick to her stomach, and vomited.  She told (her sister) Mattachanna that the English must have put something in her food.  Mattachana and Uttamattamakin tried to care for Pocahontas in her sudden illness.  As Pocahontas began to convulse, Mattachanna went to get Rolfe.  When they returned, Pocahontas had died.”  — THE TRUE STORY OF POCAHONTAS.

They hadn’t even attained open sea yet.  They were still in the river.  Rolfe immediately asked to be taken to Gravesend, where he buried Pocahontas and left Thomas in England for his English relatives to raise.  Rolfe never saw him again.

Upon returning to the New World, Mattachanna and her husband, Uttamattamakin — who was the high priest — reported to Chief Wahunsenaca what had happened in England, including the murder of his daughter.  It is from this account that the oral history has been passed down from generation to generation.

But who killed her and why?  Again, from the book, THE TRUE STORY OF POCAHONTAS, “Rolfe and the Virginia Company associates ascertained that Pocahontas knew that Smith had lied to her father and that some English businessmen were behind a scheme to remove her father from his throne and take the land from the Powhatan people.  This justified the decision by the English colonists not to take Pocahontas back to her homeland…. Certain people believed that Pocahontas would endanger the English settlement, especially because she had new insights into the political strategy of the English colonists and (their intention) to break down the Powhatan structure, so they plotted to murder her.” 

Again, from the book, THE TRUE STORY OF POCAHONTAS, “…Dale, Rolfe, and Whitaker had close ties to each other.  All three had major roles in what happened in Pocahontas’s life after she was abducted.  Dale eventually took custody of Pocahontas after Argall took her to Jamestown.  Whitaker maintained Pocahontas’s house arrest and surveillance.  All three sought to convert Pocahontas to Christianity.  Rolfe married Pocahontas. Dale provided a large tract of land for Rolfe to grow tobacco.  A Dale-Rolfe-Whitaker trio comprising agreements and pacts is not out of the realm of possibility, but … sacred oral history does not reveal who or how many persons were behind her murder.  We believe it is most likely that more than one person was involved.”

So ends my story of the abduction and murder of a true heroine.  A heroine because she tried to unite two different peoples.  A heroine because she endured much in an effort to help her people.  She did it with little complaint, though it goes without saying that she yearned for the company of her own people, her own little son and the husband of her heart, Kocoum. 

 It’s not exactly the Disney version or the fairy tale story that we’ve all been spoon-fed, I’m afraid.  But it’s an honest view.  It shows the courage and persistence of a young woman who did all she could to help her father and her people.  And, to this end, she is a true American heroine.

I believe that the purpose of history is to show what causes created what effects.  In an honest report of history, once can easily see what effects were created and thus use history as a real education.  As they say “Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me.”

Of course, one has to presuppose that one’s history is being told truthfully, and not rewritten versions of an event that will further along some vested interest.  So what can we learn from this true story of a brave heroine?

I’ll give you my thoughts on the subject, and perhaps you can give me yours.  The mistakes that I see that Wahunsenaca (Pocahontas’s father) made were: 1) He didn’t get to know the Englishman’s views of ethics (or lack thereof), supposing instead that all peoples valued the same thing; 2) He sought to placate evil instead of confronting it and eradicating it when he had a chance of winning against it; and 3) One cannot easily placate greed and evil.  It seems to feed on itself.  To me such greed is vampire-like — one can never do enough.  It’s as though one’s own good deeds disappear into a vacuum — a “ho-hum — what else can you do for me,” attitude.   The arrogance and snobbery of the criminally insane is beyond belief.  And, as far as Pocahontas, herself, I’d say that one could learn that one shouldn’t say too much to those who have raped, kidnapped and/or have harmed or mean to harm you in some way.

After all, the opposite of the right to speak one’s mind is the right to not speak it to those who mean you harm.  She was only in her early twenties.  Did I know this valuable God-given right when I was this young?  I can say quite honestly that I did not.

Well, there you have it.  What do you think?  It’s doubtful Hollywood would make a movie of this story, though I wish that they would.  But this is the story that has been passed down from generation to generation amongst the Powhatan people and their various tribes, specifically the Mattaponi.  For further information, I would highly recommend the book, THE TRUE STORY OF POCAHONTAS by Dr. Linwood “Little Bear” Custalow and Angela L. Daniel “Silver Star.”  Read it for yourself and come to your own conclusions.  It is a story of the oral tradition of Pocahontas.  It is not a made-up story.  Here is a link to get the book:

So come on in and let me know your thoughts.  Is there anything you can think of that can be learned from this “history lesson”?  

And now for the give-away promised: I’ll be gifting the e-book, BLACK EAGLE, to a lucky blogger.  I’m giving away the e-book, BLACK EAGLE, because this story is one of an Eastern Indian tribe, the Iroquois.  Although the Powhatan tribe is not the same as the Iroquois, both of them were North Eastern tribes.

Please note:  The pricing of the books, WAR CLOUD’S PASSION, LONE ARROW’S PRIDE, SOARING EAGLE’S EMBRACE, WOLF SHADOW’S PROMISE and BLACK EAGLE are once again on sale.  Temporarily, they had gone up in price to their usual price at $4.99.  But check back at Amazon soon.  They will be going back on sale from $.99 – $2.99.

Hope you have enjoyed this blog and the previous two blogs about the same subject.  Peace…

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KAREN KAY aka GEN BAILEY is the multi-published author of American Indian Historical Romances. She has written for such prestigious publishers as AVON/HarperCollins, Berkley/Penguin/Putnam and Samhain Publishing. KAREN KAY’S great grandmother was Choctaw Indian and Kay is honored to be able to write about the American Indian Culture.
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20 thoughts on “The Abduction and Murder of Pocahontas, Part 3 — Plus Give-Away”

  1. I hve always been interested in the life of Pocahontas because long before any person, especially a woman and certainly not a woman who was not white, survived in a world of whites. Even Pocahontas with everything she helped with durning her life, always seemed to be paraded around and looked at but never as a person. I came from the hills of North Carolina and my family intermarried with the indians but the women in our families were always treated so differently than white women, even as late at the early 1960’s, I had my first awarness of this when we went as a family to town my aunts stayed slightly apart from the family and I would hear the nastiness said to them, right to their faces. They were always so very alone in a closed
    society and I still,to this day, am deeply saddened that they were shunned and their wonderful, loving personalities were not admired, but because of their skin color, they were always treated shamefully. Even worse, sometimes the older members of our family treated them the same. I didn’t understand it then, and I still don’t, after all of these years. I am in my 60’s and I worry that people still treat othere people so horribly.

    • Hi!

      Thank you so much for sharing your story on the blog today. It’s an amazing story. And I share your worry that people still treat others in a bad way. And, in today’s world, there seems to be too much ugliness afloat and a willingness to shame people based on ridiculous reasons. Again, thank you very much for sharing your story.

  2. I think those arriving in Virginia were coming to claim land. They were promised it and were going to take it. They thought themselves superior to Native Americans, and that they had a right to the “free land” by any means. They were establishing new colonies and claiming land in the name of England.

    I don’t think the Native people ever had a chance.

    Our textbooks don’t show this because they were written with one narrative. But, if you visit living history, you will find the truth is starting to be shared with visitors. They’re no longer glossing over what we’ve been taught. You have to choose the right settlements to visit. Even in Virginia, there are two types. The touristy, colorful reenactment which has the textbook history. And there’s the archeological site with more honest information. And, the latter, has a live feed available most of the time.

    • Hi Denise,

      What an insightful blog. As you say, I don’t think the Native people ever had a chance. There were too many ways to “control” them, alcohol being one of them. And a little more recently, drugs. They had no knowledge of these people and when I look at what happened, I think their mistake was thinking that all people value the same thing: family, tribe, food, land, etc. Not all peoples value this. I can think of many examples: thirst for gold, silver, money, coin, etc. How many people have died because of another’s thirst for what those people have? Sigh. Someday I think man as a group of humanity (regardless of race) will grow up. I certainly hope so.

    • Hi Debra,

      I so agree with you. But, perhaps worse than this is to take the tragedy and the reason for it and make it into a fairy tale and ignore the baser, but perhaps truer, happenings. I am so glad that her people have come out with the truth as passed down amongst her own people.

  3. Welcome and thank you. I have really enjoyed your telling of the truth of her life. WOW I really need to go and check out this book. As Debra alluded above, greed has been around forever. Since the the time in the Garden of Eden.

  4. I have thought for a very long time about a comment. My mind continues to circle around the brutality, entitlement, and disregard present in many colonizers. We cannot repair the damage done. We can only try to live better lives, act more fairly, and love rather than hate…

  5. Wow, Karen, I think you hit the nail on the head. The way to combat evil is sometimes to simply not cooperate with it, but to live ones own live fairly and with lots of love. Perhaps if we create little pockets of good deeds, eventually these might overturn the evil in the world. One can hope so, anyway.

  6. I have read each of the three installments with slightly cynical thoughts toward the whites. I have never heard this side in history in school, yet it resonates truth to me. I can so readily believe that this is really what happened, especially looking at how whites have treated every other race through history, and not just other races, though, but other whites they don’t feel measure “up” to their “class”. All you have to do is look at English history and their “upper class” felt no one could measure up, and actually kept people down. If you were certain “types” you could only associate with that “type” and it didn’t matter how you treated those “beneath” you. I agree with your points. The only way any of this could have changed would have been if all of the tribes had banded together against the “invaders”, as that is really what the Europeans were. The really sad thing is that it continues today. We still haven’t learned from past mistakes, and we’re still trying to re-write history.

    • Hi Trudy,

      Like you said, this resonates as truth with me, too. Perhaps we never learn from our mistakes because of the rewriting of history and I guess the willingness to believe the powers that ought not be. 🙂 However, there’s another truth that isn’t being told nowadays and that’s the enslavement of the white race right here in America. Remember during the Revolutionary War the Barbary (Arab) sailors capturing American ships and enslaving the whites and selling them or killing them? And, how about the “indentured servitude” which was all white people — and especially when that servitude went on and on way past the years it should have. It seems to me that as human beings and as humanity as a whole, we really need to grow up.

      Thank you so much for your thoughts.

      • Very true!! There’s still that problem, too!! Seems like there’s always some sort of oppression of those “weaker” or not as “wealthy” or whatever you want to call it! Until all of mankind turns to God, there will always be these types of things going on. As a friend was saying today, there are consequences for all of our actions, whether good or bad. Thank you for doing this blog and sharing your thoughts and the book The True Story of Pocahontas.

        • Hi Trudy!

          Wonderful thoughts on this. I agree with your friend. The “powers that should not be” believe that if they do this and that ritual, they will not get the consequences for their actions. But God did not create this world in that manner. A Crime against humanity is a crime against humanity, whether one believes it or not. And, in this world, there are definite consequences for one’s actions of harm against others. I really appreciate your thoughts on this.

  7. Wow, this is so very, very interesting. I just cannot understand how alot of people think, we are all created equal, even though we look different , think different and act different but we are all God’s creation and He created us all and He loves us all. (not entering the giveaway but thank you) Racism has always been and unfortunately I don’t think it is going anywhere. 🙁

  8. Hi Alicia,

    You know after America cut their ties with England, a new country started to emerge, one based on the principles of Nature’s God and especially those teachings of Jesus. And for the first hundred years or so, most people tried to make this a country based on Jesus’s teachings of treating others as one would have them treat you, etc. And the majority of people did try to do that. It seems to me that the real difficulties started shortly after the Civil War or The War of Northern Aggression, depending on where one lives in this country. Sigh… It’s really something that would take some study to really get a good idea of what happened. And, bear with me here, but I bet, I just bet it had to do with finance of some kind or another. But, only an honest look at real history — and ignoring the rest — would tell the story, I think.

  9. Boy, what an eye opener these three posts have been — very interesting indeed!! At the same time, they were very sad to read as well, of course. Poor Pocahontas! To find out even more travesty regarding the unfair and inhumane treatment of peoples seen as “different” or “unequal” in the past is disheartening, especially in the time we’re in now while we experience the latter currently! Times never do seem to change, do they? Maybe slightly over time, but not in a marked way. Technology, for instance, sure changes over time, yet the way we treat each other, even though efforts have been made, never changes (and stays that way) for the betterment of all. What a shame. I can express it in a nutshell: remember those commercials where the Native Indian is standing next to the bus station booth and then the camera does a close up on his face? He is shedding one single tear that’s running down his cheek. {I was a little girl, 1970s (?) but I still remember it well}. I always felt bad when I saw this commercial that us English stole all their lands. It’s called “having a heart”. This is what’s missing…where is everyone’s heart??? (Or those that aren’t showing they have one anyway)?

  10. Hi Venetia,

    You have said this so well. You are right, it’s called “having a heart.” Unfortunately, somewhere along the line, England decided to make the world “English.” But it wasn’t the Anglo-Saxon form of “English,” which included the Magna Carta and Due process — but an England of a class/caste system. At present, I’m writing a book which is set in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show — and the show is in England, which has caused me to do some research that I don’t normally do. Sometimes I think these royal families do so much inter-breeding, that they truly go insane (one of the consequences of inter-breeding). Perhaps this is part of the problem. Anyway, enjoyed reading your thoughts on this very much.

  11. No need to enter my name in the giveaway, I already have both books in this set. The “revised” version of the Pocahontas story makes much more sense than the popularized version reflected in the Disney movie. In general it has been know for decades that the treatment of native peoples was less than honest and often cruel. They were taken advantage of and considered savages and less human than Europeans. These “savages” had successful lives in a world that Europeans had trouble surviving for a year. They showed these newcomers how to use the resources and not only survive but thrive. In thanks, their people were killed, enslaved, raped and mistreated, their lands taken and property destroyed. Who were the real savages? The stories of attacks by native peoples on settlements in most cases relate events that occurred after the abuse and displacement had already started. Most, but not all, tribes were peaceful and welcoming. Their biggest mistake was trusting the Europeans.
    I have no doubt that Pocahontas was poisoned. She was young and angry. After discovering how her people had been lied to and misused, she reacted and likely let them know exactly what she would do once she returned home. They could not yet afford to have her father and the rest of the tribes revolt against their plans. How much her husband had to do with it we will never know. It could be the others that were responsible. It seems her husband was not attached to his wife or son since he left his son and returned to the colony right away. That may be due to sailing schedules more than anything else. Thomas was sick and could not travel. The son was raised as an Englishman and never saw his father again. Rolfe died before his son returned to the colonies about the age of 20. When he came to the colonies, he did meet his mother’s people, but lived as an Englishman, even becoming an officer in the militia. Rolfe did leave his properties to his son. Thomas also received land from his grandfather, Pocahontas’s father, across the river from Jamestown. That is an indication that the native peoples were still in the area and still had a bit of autonomy and land rights. It would certainly be nice to have a time machine and be able to go back to find what really happened.

  12. Hi Patricia,

    I didn’t know all these facts concerning Thomas and what happened to him. It’s nice to know that he did return to America when he was twenty and had an inheritance from both sides of the family. It would be interesting to know if any of Thomas’ descendants became a part of the tribe. Thanks for giving us more of that information. Puts another aspect about this that is wonderful to know.

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