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Pocahontas & The Virginia Indians Online Course

Class #2 - Pocahontas Revealed

Over the next four classes we will take a look at the actual historical record of the life of Pocahontas and review how that very limited amount of written information has been interpreted and presented by historians, artists and movie producers in the years since her death. The mythology of Pocahontas is multi-faceted, so we are starting in Class #2 with a video produced by the Smithsonian Institute called Pocahontas: Beyond the Myth. This video provides a very objective look at the known history of Pocahontas and intersects with many of the different interpretations presented over the years. We will build on the Smithsonian presentation in Class #3 when you will get more objective analysis from the folks at NOVA. It is hoped that these two classes will prepare you to better recognize the extreme creative license taken by the folks at Disney with their Pocahontas movie, which is the Class #4 content. In Class #5 we will come back to the actual historic record with a book titled English Pocahontas 1613-1617: Ten Essential Questions , written by John Pagano from Henricus Historical Park.


Class #2 content includes a video from fellow students Deborah Seraydarian Soderholm and her daughter Kaiah Seraydarian from Williamsburg, Virginia. Deborah is working with John Pagano on the Pocahontas book you will read in Class #5 and you will see Kaiah’s name in the credits of the Smithsonian video as she portrayed young Pocahontas in parts of the video!

Class #2 content also includes a "shout out" video from Rev. Jim Fletcher, the Rector of St. George’s Church in Gravesend, England. Last week you saw a video from the former Rector, Rev. Chris Stone, which showed the steeple of St. George’s visible from the Thames waterfront. Rev. Jim provides a wonderful tour of the St. George’s Pocahontas Garden, Pocahontas Statue and the sanctuary inside the church.


Rick Tatnall

Formal Class Content

The story of Pocahontas has been passed down through the centuries. Her relationship with John Smith has been characterized as a romance that united two cultures and created lasting peace. However, the life of this American Indian princess was anything but a fairytale. Join us as we look beyond the fiction and reveal the real story of Pocahontas, a tale of kidnapping, conflict, starvation, ocean journeys, and the future of an entire civilization.


Smithsonian Video- Pocahontas: Beyond the Myth (2019 – 52 minutes)

Class #2 Thoughtwork

(to be done after reviewing all class content)

  • One of the most fabled stories of all time is the story of Pocahontas saving John Smith’s life. Students are asked to consider what new information they gained from the Smithsonian video about this event. Were you presented with possibilities that you had not considered before? How do those new possibilities change your thoughts on what might have really happened?

  • The John Smith “rescue” by Pocahontas would have happened in 1607, but Smith did not begin telling the story until 1624, seven years after Pocahontas died. Students are asked to consider the possible reasons behind Smith’s wait to tell such an amazing tale and if those possibilities change their view of what really happened.

  • Pocahontas was on her way back to Virginia when she died and was buried at St. George’s Church in Gravesend. Students are asked to consider the power gained by the legend of Pocahontas because she is buried in England as Rebecca Rolfe.

Statue of Pocahontas in Gloucester, 

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