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Growing Up

Pocahontas was born the daughter of the chief of the Powhatan people. Historians estimate that she was born around the year 1595. Her father was more than just the chief of a small tribe, he was chief a large confederation of Native American tribes that populated much of eastern Virginia.

Despite being the chief's daughter, Pocahontas' childhood would have been similar to most Native American girls. She would have lived in a thatched roof hut, learned how to make a fire and cook, searched for food such as berries and nuts in the woods, and played games with other children. As far as we know, Pocahontas had a peaceful and happy childhood.

Strangers Arrive

When Pocahontas was around twelve years old, strange men arrived from a far away land. They were English settlers. They established the settlement of Jamestown on an island at the edge of the Powhatan lands. They wore metal armor and had guns that made a loud noise when fired. The relationship between the Powhatan and the strangers was tense. Sometimes they traded with the strangers and other times they fought them.

Captain John Smith

One day the leader of the Jamestown settlement, Captain John Smith, was taken captive by some of her father's warriors. According to legend, Chief Powhatan was going to have John Smith killed when Pocahontas came to his rescue. She pleaded for her father to spare Smith's life. Her father agreed and let Captain Smith go.

After Pocahontas had rescued John Smith, the relationship between the Powhatan and the settlers improved. They traded with each other and Pocahontas visited the Jamestown fort often to talk to John Smith. In 1609, John Smith was injured in a gunpowder accident and had to return to England. The relationship between the Powhatan and the settlers once again turned to violence.


In 1613, Pocahontas was taken captive by English Captain Samuel Argall. He told Pocahontas' father that he would exchange her for the release of some English prisoners being held by the Powhatan. The negotiations between the two parties went on for some time. While being held captive, Pocahontas met tobacco farmer John Rolfe and fell in love. Even after her father paid the ransom, she decided to stay with the English. On April 5, 1614 she married John Rolfe at the church in Jamestown. Around a year later, she gave birth to a son named Thomas.

Life in England

A few years after getting married, Pocahontas and John Rolfe sailed to London. While in London Pocahontas was treated like a princess. She dressed in fancy clothes, went to fabulous parties, and met King James I of England. She even got to meet with John Smith, who she thought was dead.

Death and Legacy

Pocahontas and John Rolfe had planned to sail back to Virginia. Unfortunately, Pocahontas became very sick as they were preparing to set sail. She died in March of 1617 in Gravesend, England.

Interesting Facts about Pocahontas

To learn more about Colonial America:

Colonies and Places
Lost Colony of Roanoke
Jamestown Settlement
Plymouth Colony and the Pilgrims
The Thirteen Colonies

Daily Life
Clothing - Men's
Clothing - Women's
Daily Life in the City
Daily Life on the Farm
Food and Cooking
Homes and Dwellings
Jobs and Occupations
Places in a Colonial Town
Women's Roles
William Bradford
Henry Hudson
James Oglethorpe
William Penn
John Smith
Roger Williams

French and Indian War
King Philip's War
Mayflower Voyage
Salem Witch Trials

Timeline of Colonial America
Glossary and Terms of Colonial America

Works Cited

History >> Colonial America >> Biography

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