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Pocahontas & The Virginia Indians Online Course

Class #5 - Pocahontas-Captive, Convert, Celebrity

In this class students will be immersed in the historical record of the last 4 years of the life of Pocahontas guided by John Pagano, the Historical Interpretation Supervisor at Henricus Historical Park located along the James River in Chesterfield, Virginia. Henricus Historical Park re-creates everyday life in the Virginia Indian community of Arrohateck and the Citie of Henricus, the second successful English settlement in North America. Founded in 1611, Henricus was established upriver from a struggling Jamestown as "a convenient, strong, healthie and sweet site to plant a new towne", according to Sir Thomas Dale, the leader of the expedition. Citie leaders developed the first English hospital, chartered the first college in North America and established tobacco as the first cash crop in Virginia. Henricus is also the place where Pocahontas lived for a time and where she met John Rolfe. For more on Henricus Historical Park , click here.

In 1613, four years before her death in England, Pocahontas was captured and taken to Henricus, where she was cared for and instructed in Christianity by Reverend Alexander Whitaker. The formal course content for Class #5 is John Pagano’s look at these last 4 years of the life of Pocahontas in his soon-to-be-published book titled The English Pocahontas: Ten Essential Questions . Students will be exposed to the important aspects of the written historical record kept by the English about Pocahontas, with Mr. Pagano providing his answers to the ten essential questions about her four years living with the English. It is expected that it will take between 45 minutes and one hour to read Mr. Pagano’s book.

Class #5 will keep the focus on Henricus as the Student Video is from Mr. Pagano and his interpretive specialists at Henricus and the Shout Out video from a place connected to Pocahontas is a recently aired news story by WTVR - CBS6 in Richmond about Henricus, including a look at how it is handling its interpretive efforts in the new normal created by COVID-19. Henricus Historical Park has been a partner of the Pocahontas Project from its inception and the Project is honored to have their involvement and support as Henricus interprets the life of Pocahontas every day.


Rick Tatnall

Student of the course video, discussing why Pocahontas is important to them-

John Pagano from Henricus Historical Park (July 2020)

Shout out Video from a place named for or connected to Pocahontas

Henricus Historical Park (WTVR-CBS6 / June 2020): View Video Here.

Formal Class Content

Reading Assignment- The English Pocahontas: Ten Essential Questions (2020)

By John Pagano, Historical interpretation Supervisor at Henricus Historical Park

PDF Version of Book

Word Version of Book

Class #5 Thoughtwork

(to be done after reviewing all class content)

  • Through his examination of the extremely brief historical record available, John Pagano provides his answers to ten essential questions about Pocahontas. If we could know what really happened, what are the top three questions you would like answered and why?

  • How Chief Wahunsenacock handled the abduction of Pocahontas stands out as one of history’s critical decisions. Why do you think he refused to ransom Pocahontas? Consider the consequences of his decision and how history would have changed had his tactics been different.

  • Pocahontas completely subsumed her identity during her captivity. Why? What were her choices in this situation?

  • The only image of the woman most famously known as Pocahontas created in her lifetime is Simon van de Passe's engraving done in London in 1616. What strikes you about this image of Rebecca Rolke, aka Pocahontas? (Consider that she was approximately 21 years old at the time she sat for the portrait and would die a year later)

Statue of Pocahontas in Gloucester, 

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