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Pocahontas & The Virginia Indians Online Course

Welcome Matoaka Covenant Participant!

I am so excited to welcome you to the first class in the on-line self-study course called Pocahontas and the Virginia Indians. As the curator of the course content I am honored you have chosen to enter into this information and inspiration exchange and I look forward to collaborating with you to make your education and social development experience as meaningful as possible. For The Pocahontas Project, the ultimate objectives of this Course involve providing students a strong foundation of information and understanding about Pocahontas and the Virginia Indians, inspiring Hope and Purpose, and expanding students’ intellectual and spiritual horizons as they look to participate in the Matoaka Covenant and the Matoaka Sustainability Action Plan.

Our intentions and objectives for the Course have been influenced by the global upheaval of 2020 as Pocahontas' life example has become much more topical and relevant. Much like humanity is currently facing, Pocahontas and her people were simultaneously confronted with new diseases and escalating racial, social and economic tensions after the English started to arrive in 1607.  Barely a teenager in the face of this adversity and uncertainty, Pocahontas exemplified leadership qualities that are compelling and quite relevant today for people of all ages, especially teenagers around the globe who will inherit the world adults have created for them. 

The 10 classes of the course offer a diverse set of information sources presenting a variety of perspectives of the life, legend and legacy of the woman most famously known as Pocahontas, as well as the history and culture of the Virginia Indians, with special attention to the tribes associated with Paramount Chief Powhatan.  Since there is remarkably little historical information available on the life of Pocahontas, much is open for interpretation and the course presents a variety of perspectives so you can draw your own conclusions.  While they can be viewed in any order, it is suggested the 10 class segments be viewed in the order presented.  For instance, the Project suggests it is best if students view a couple of versions of Pocahontas' life presented by credible historical organizations before they view the version of history presented in the Disney Pocahontas movie, which is part of the course content.

We have added to the formal course content a set of videos created specifically for this course in the summer of 2020 by fellow students and folks from places named for or connected to Pocahontas.  Collectively these “shout out” videos will be from people and places in Virginia, England, and around the world and intend to offer students additional current context.

At the end of each class is a concept we call Thoughtwork, which is an important component of the course designed to inspire critical thinking.  Following up on the content of each class, Course Headteacher Rhonda Taylor suggests Thoughtwork for students to consider. This intellectual opportunity is an example of the self-study aspect of this course - how much time you spend is up to you, but we are going to try to provoke and challenge you to want to spend time because it has meaning to you. You will see that before you start the Class #1 content Headteacher Taylor has some Pre-Course Thoughtwork for you to consider.

We start the Class #1 Content with an introductory video from me, Rick Tatnall, and my good friend Anne Richardson, Chief of the Rappahannock Indian Tribe. We follow with a video introduction from Headteacher Rhonda Taylor. Following that you will access videos from two people who have been materially involved in The Pocahontas Project from the beginning - Rev. Chris Stone from Gravesend, England and Carol Steele from Gloucester, Virginia. Formal Class #1 content follows these videos.


Finally, some housekeeping considerations:

  • Audio quality will vary with some of the “shout out” videos, so please be prepared to turn your volume up or down as needed

  • Class #4 involves viewing the 1995 Disney movie “Pocahontas”.   It is the student’s responsibility to obtain access to the movie, which is available for free on many streaming services and on YouTube for $2.99

  • Please let me know about any problems you encounter in terms of accessing content, technical issues, distorted web page views, or other problems with the presentation of the course content

  • We are relying on the Honor System - Please remember that the web link we are providing is for your use only. 

That’s all for now – please enjoy Class #1.

Rick Tatnall

The Pocahontas Project

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