The classic, from Disney, marked the childhood of many born in 1995. Today, even though they are adults, they are moved by the troubled romance between the Native American and the Englishman John Smith, colonizer of his land. Few know, however, that this was the first Disney cartoon, until then, based on a real story, and not only that: the legend of Pocahontas it was impactful in American history. It’s just a little different from the Walt Disney storyline.
Let’s go back to history
India was Chief Powhatan’s daughter. His tribe lived in what we now know as Jamestown, Virginia. However, his name was Matoaka, and he received the nickname that gives the film its name in childhood. He means “spoiled child”, as his strong personality was seen.
In the plot, after the arrival of the English in North America, the Native American saved John Smith, an English colonizer, from being killed by his father, convincing him that this could arouse the hatred of the English. However, in the drawings, this is portrayed through a romance between Pocahontas and Smith. In reality, not wanting to spoil childhoods, they never fell in love.
After easing more conflicts between colonizers and their people, Pocahontas became known as a peacemaker, but the disagreements between them were far from ending there.
At the age of 17, she was captured and taken as a prisoner by the English, whose camp was her prison for one year. During that time, she met John Rolfe, also an Englishman, who fell in love with her and negotiated their marriage in exchange for freeing her.
Records show that this was the first marriage between a Native American and a European. It is more or less at this point that its relevance to the United States stands out.
Pocahontas for the colonizers
She was baptized and, after being determined to become familiar with Christianity, adopted the name Rebecca, Rebecca Rolfe. That moment was immortalized on a dollar bill. Pocahontas, then, was the first woman to appear on the American note, although it was not just a portrait of her, as in many other busts printed there.
The importance of this image for the United States was in the idea of showing that the colonization of Virginia would have been through good work, and Pocahontas would be the proof that the Indians could be “domesticated”. This disclosure continued when then-Rebecca and John Rolfe moved to England, where she was a model for the campaign that symbolized peace between the two peoples. This generated much praise for her husband and, of course, the colonizers.
Thomas Rolfe was the couple’s first child, whose descendants were nicknamed Red Rolfe. The name “Red” was how Europeans characterized Americans. Among such descendants is Nancy Reagan, former US first lady.
In 1617, they decided to return to Vírginia, but she passed away. The causes of death are still a mystery. Pocahontas was buried in the Parish of São Jorge, in Gravesend. His tomb was eventually destroyed in a renovation, but a statue was built in his memory at the same location. After his death, the people of Powhatan were decimated and the land was dominated by Europeans.
It is one of the symbols of violence against the natives during the Great Navigations. She is also a woman who relied on the orality of the peoples, and even on the romanticized versions, so that her story would continue alive and ignorance would not reign when she thought of her as a passionate character, instead of a young woman taken by force from her people. , family, culture and religion.
The statue is visited by many tourists who admire the history of the drawings. To those who know it a little deeper, however, it represents much more than the Disney princess.