The real history behind Pocahontas and her relationship with colonists


A portrait of Pocahontas by Simon van de Passe. Via National Portrait Gallery.

Pocahontas seems to be immortalized thanks to the rendition and to countless history books. We know Pocahontas to be a young woman who fell in love with a European settler and eventually dove off the cliffs of Virginia. That’s just a story. Her true history is very different and much darker.

Tales have been spun about her rescuing John Smith, an English adventurer, from certain execution. This idea, that Pocahontas turned allies with the English, is one that captured the public’s imagination for centuries. Maybe because stories of star-crossed lovers are bound to fascinate humanity. However, the idea that Pocahontas turned her back on her own people to single-handedly help ‘bridge’ two cultures is not historically true. There isn’t much evidence of Pocahontas rescuing the soldier at all.

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Natalia Nazeem Ahmed

A young English graduate who’s trying to share her thoughts with the world. Still a work in progress. For short fiction, visit