A Tribute to Womanhood

Welcome to "I Am Woman"...a tribute to all those women who had the courage and perseverance to stand up and fight for their rights. Thanks to those who came before us we enjoy a freedom unknown to women not too long ago. But, sadly, in many parts of the world, women continue to be repressed. In fact, even in this country there are women living today under the threat of violence...completely controlled by a violent spouse. Some may make it; others won't. Hopefully, one day ALL women will be free. May that day come soon.



Pocahontas was a nickname for Mataoaka, a member of the Algonquian group of Native Americans and an emissary between the native tribes and the English settlers. She was the most beloved daughter of Powhatan, an important Indian chief. One day the Pamunkey tribe brought a white man they had taken captive, John Smith, to Powhatan's village. Chief Powhatan was fearful that danger might come from the white men living on his land, but  Pocahontas thought the Indians should not be afraid of John Smith. 
Powhatan said Smith must die, but just as one of the warriors raised a stone club to kill Smith, Pocahontas pleaded with her father to give Smith to her. (In Pocahontas's tribe women could save a prisoner by asking for the prisoner to be given to them.) Powhatan reluctantly agreed to  let Pocahontas have Smith partially because he was afraid that the white men might attack if they killed him. Hence, Smith was adopted Powhatan's tribe and  Indian name Nantaquoud.

Eventually, it was time for Smith to leave, and  Powhatan chose twelve braves to escort him  to Jamestown. But, Smith's people  were becoming frail and sick; they were dying because they had so little to eat. They didn't know how to forage for food, and  Pocahontas helped them by providing food. In return, the settlers sent bells, mirrors, copper, and beads to the Indians. This didn't please Powhatan because what he wanted was guns.

The English King had hopes of befriending Powhatan, and sent him such gifts as a bed, a red silk cape, and a copper crown, but Powhatan, still wanting guns, refused to give the setters at any more food.  Captain Smith and his men lifted their muskets. Angrily, Powhatan provided the settlers the much-needed food, but promised that he would not forget this transgression. Hostilities between the Indians and the settlers continued to increase and relations continued to worsen. Then, in October, 1609 John Smith was badly injured by a gunpowder explosion and was forced to return to England. When Pocahontas next came to visit the fort, she was told that her friend was dead.

Meanwhile, winter was setting in, and the Indians began moving deeper into the woods so they would be away from the white man. And a hard winter it was for the settlers. In fact, the population decreased from about 550 people to only 60 by the time the winter ended.  Then in May, two two small boats from the homeland arrived in Jamestown, and after seeing the devastation, they had decided to abandon the Jamestown colony. But the settlers soon changed their minds  when on June 7 a large ship arrived with food, supplies, and new settlers.

So, for the next few years, settler continued to arrive in Jamestown bringing with them supplies and craftsmen. Pocahontas went up the Potomac River to another Indian village. Captain Samuel Argall became the new leader at Jamestown, and in December  of 1613, he sailed up the Potomac River to an Indian village to open trade with the Indians. It turns out that this is where Powhatan had settled. Argall traded a copper kettle for Pocahontas. Actually, the hopes were that Powhatan would trade the Indian  prisoners and the guns he had taken  in exchange for Pocahontas. Indeed, Powhatan did back many prisoners and promised friendship and corn, but he refused send back the guns...and as a result, Argall refused to send Pocahontas back to her tribe. But she was treated very well for, in all appearances, she was being held hostage, she was free to go from house to house and was given a warm room, plenty of pretty clothes, and food to eat. 

And, it was during this time that Pocahontas fell in love with John Rolfe, and that following, April they were married. And so it was that for the next eight years the settlers and the Indians were at peace. Pocahontas and John were very happy. They had a baby and named him Thomas. Meanwhile, Rolfe invented new ways to plant and curing tobacco which he planned to send  to the Old World. In 1616, John and Pocahontas sailed to England to talk to King James about the sale of tobacco in England.

The people in England loved Pocahontas; they followed her everywhere. And then, one day, she  ran into John Smith. She was so upset she would not speak for hours. She had long thought Smith had been dead, and she was missing her home. England had so much fog and sickness, and after seven months, Rolfe decided it was time to return his family to Virginia. In March  of 1617 they set sail for the New World, but  it was soon apparent that Pocahontas would not live to see her homeland again. She was deathly ill from pneumonia. She was taken ashore and, as she lay dying, she comforted her husband, saying, "all must die.'Tis enough that the child liveth."  She was buried in a small churchyard in Gravesend, England.  She was only 22 years old.

Pocahontas played a significant role in the history of our country.  She went against her father to see to it that the colonists received food from the Indians, and intervened to save the lives of individual colonists. In 1616, John Smith wrote that Pocahontas was "the instrument to pursurve this colonie from death, famine, and utter confusion." She not only served as a representative of the Virginia Indians, but also as a vital link between the native Americans and the Englishmen. But, whatever  her contributions, the romantic aspects of her life will no doubt stand out in Virginia history forever.  She was also the first Indian woman to convert to Christianity; she was baptized with the name "Rebecca".

1 comment:

  1. cool but i need a colored picture not black and white