Native American Colonial Figure. She was most likely born in Werawocomoco (what is now Wicomico, Gloucester County, Virginia) on the north side of the Pamaunkee (York) River, about 1595-96, a daughter of the Chief over some forty Algonkian Indian villages that were spread about the shores of the rivers now called the James and the York, which flow into Chesapeake Bay. Her father called Powhatan after his chief village named her Meto-aka and later "Pocahontas," meaning "Playful little Girl". Her true name, Mato-aka, was only used within her tribe. She likely saw white men for the first time in May 1607 when Englishmen landed at Jamestown. The one she found most likable was Captain John Smith. The first meeting of Pocahontas and John Smith has become a legendary, romanticized story, but the two did soon become friends after the meeting. Relations with the Indians continued to be generally friendly for the next year, and she was a frequent visitor to Jamestown. She delivered messages from her father and accompanied Indians bringing food and furs to trade for hatchets and trinkets. Pocahontas apparently married an Indian "pryvate Captayne" named Kocoum in 1610. She lived in Potomac country among Indians, but her relationship with the Englishmen was not over. When an energetic and resourceful member of the Jamestown settlement, Captain Samuel Argall, learned where she was, he devised a plan to kidnap her and hold her for ransom. With the help of Japazaws, lesser chief of the Patowomeck Indians, Argall lured Pocahontas onto his ship. When told she would not be allowed to leave, she "began to be exceeding pensive and discontented," but she eventually became calmer and even accustomed to her captivity. Argall sent word to Powhatan that he would return his beloved daughter only when the chief had returned to him the English prisoners he held, the arms and tolls that the Indians had stolen, and also some corn. After some time Powhatan sent part of the ransom and asked that they treat his daughter well. Argall returned to Jamestown in April 1613 with Pocahontas. She eventually moved to a new settlement, Henrico, which was under the leadership of Sir Thomas Dale. It was here that she began her education in the Christian Faith, and that she met a successful tobacco planter named John Rolfe in July 1613. She was allowed relative freedom within the settlement, and she began to enjoy her role in the relations between the colony and her people. After almost a year of captivity, Dale brought 150 armed men and Pocahontas into Powhatan's territory to obtain her entire ransom. Attacked by the Indians, the Englishmen burned many houses, destroyed villages, and killed several Indian men. Pocahontas was finally sent ashore where she was reunited with two of her brothers, whom she told that she was treated well and that she was in love with the Englishman John Rolfe and wanted to marry him. Powhatan gave his consent to this, and the Englishmen departed, delighted at the prospect of the "peace-making" marriage, although they didn't receive the full ransom. Sir Thomas Dale made an important voyage back to London in the spring of 1616. His purpose was to seek further financial support for the Virginia Company and, to insure spectacular publicity; he brought with him about a dozen Algonquian Indians, including Pocahontas. Her husband and their young son, Thomas, accompanied her. The arrival of Pocahontas in London was well publicized. She was presented to King James I, the royal family, and the rest of the best of London society. Also in London at this time was Captain John Smith, the old friend she had not seen for eight years and whom she believed was dead. After seven months Rolfe decided to return his family to Virginia, In March 1617 they set sail. It was soon apparent, however, that Pocahontas would not survive the voyage home. She was deathly ill from pneumonia or possibly tuberculosis. 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 on March 21, 1617 at Saint Georges Church in Gravesend, England, buried in a position of honor within the church itself, under the chancel. She was no more than 22 years old.
Bio by: K M