Born around 1596, Pocahontas was the daughter of Wahunsenaca (also known as Powhatan), the powerful chief of the Powhatans, a Native American group that inhabited the Chesapeake Bay region. Little is known about her mother.
Powhatan, confederacy of at least 30 Algonquian-speaking North American Indian tribes that once occupied most of what is now tidewater Virginia, the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay, and possibly southern Maryland.
Pocahontas was not black. Rather than being of African descent, Pocahontas was a Native American from the Powhatan Tribe living in what is now
Chief Powhatan and his daughter Matoaka (better known as Pocahontas to historians), who achieved historical fame, were Pamunkey Native Americans.
1618), whose proper name was Wahunsenacawh (alternately spelled Wahunsenacah, Wahunsunacock or Wahunsonacock), was the leader of the Powhatan, an alliance of Algonquian-speaking American Indians living in Tsenacommacah, in the Tidewater region of Virginia at the time when English settlers landed at Jamestown in 1607.
The Powhatan Confederacy were a group of Algonquian speaking tribes including Powhatan, Potomac, Chesapeake, Secacawoni, Chickahominy, Mattapony, Nandsemond, Weanoc, Pamunkey, and Mattapony.
Native Americans for so many years have been so tired of enthusiastic white people loving to love Pocahontas, and patting themselves on the back because they love Pocahontas, when in fact what they were really loving was the story of an Indian who virtually worshipped white culture.
Smith first met Pocahontas when he was captured a few weeks after the first colonists’ arrival in the area. He was brought before the Great Powhatan, where he encountered men with clubs ready, he thought, to beat out his brains. The English learned, many years later, that Pocahontas was only a nickname.
Legitimate descendants of Pocahontas include Harry Flood Byrd, a U.S. senator and governor of Virginia, and his brother, Richard Evelyn Byrd, discoverer of the South Pole.
The Disney movie, Pocahontas, is accurate in many respects. And last but not least, John Smith wrote that he was saved from execution by Powhatan, when Pocahontas threw herself between Smith’s head and the stone clubs of the Indians. The rest of the movie is pure fiction.
And yet, many people who know her name do not know much about her. Pocahontas was born about 1596 and named “Amonute,” though she also had a more private name of Matoaka. She was called “Pocahontas” as a nickname, which meant “playful one,” because of her frolicsome and curious nature.
Pocahontas is still an important historical figure to know and understand for her role in mediating conflicts between her people and the colonists and providing them with the food and tools to survive.
Powhatan, also called Wahunsenacah or Wahunsenacawh, (died April 1618, Virginia [U.S.]), North American Indian leader, father of Pocahontas. He presided over the Powhatan empire at the time the English established the Jamestown Colony (1607).
It is estimated that the paramount chief Powhatan (Wahunsonacock) had as many as one hundred wives during his lifetime. While a man’s first marriage was expected to last for life, additional marriages were likely negotiated for shorter terms.