Women’s History Month: Pocahontas

Considered to be the first American celebrity, Pocahontas made history as the Native American princess from the Powhatan Algonquian tribe who saved the life of the esteemed Captain John Smith around 400 years ago.

Historians say that Pocahontas was not in love with Captain Smith but did save his life. She became famous for being a peacemaker and ambassador between the first Virginia colonists and her father, the tribe’s chief.

What’s true about her relationship with Smith? She taught the captain some words and customs of the Powhatan, interfered when he was about to be killed by her tribe, and when relations between her father and the colonists collapsed, she warned Smith that her father was planning an ambush.

Pocahontas was the first English-speaking Native American who also was the first Native American woman to marry a colonist. She sailed with her husband (John Rolfe) and infant son to meet King James I in England and caused quite a stir because of her looks.

Some would say she was used to attract investors to the Jamestown colony. Pocahontas never returned to America. She died of lung disease in 1617 while in England at the age of 22.

Content provided by Oakland University

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