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: https://tinyurl.com/yy6zccl2
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…