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Pocahontas Revealed

Program Overview


Pocahontas and Smith NOVA brings together ancient artisans, historians, and archeologists to provide a fresh look at the myth of Pocahontas.

The program:

  • reviews how Virginia's Jamestown became the first permanent English settlement in the New World in 1607.

  • recounts that Captain John Smith and other English settlers came to America to hunt for exploitable resources.

  • notes that the English settlers planned to trade goods for food with the Indians* rather than grow their own.

  • recounts how Smith came to be captured by the Indians and was eventually taken to their political center, Werowocomoco.

  • presents Smith's recollection of the historical meeting—written 17 years after it occurred—that took place between him and Chief Powhatan in which Pocahontas reportedly saved his life.

  • traces how archeologists determined where the Werowocomoco site was and documents key findings indicating the location of the longhouse in which the fabled meeting is said to have taken place.

  • states that copper was found at the longhouse site and shows the process by which scientists used a spectrometer to determine it was English copper.

  • notes how adoption rituals may have played a role in what happened between Smith and Pocahontas.

  • recalls how Pocahontas brought food to the English settlers at a time when Jamestown was on the verge of collapse and relates how Indians may have lived at the Jamestown fort for a time.

  • provides a reason for why the Indians stopped providing food to the settlers—tree-ring research revealed that a seven-year drought had begun.

  • states how English settlers used weapons to start a war with the Indians, eventually forcing Chief Powhatan and his people to move.

  • recounts Smith's return to England following an injury and recalls how Pocahontas was told he had died.

  • relates Pocahontas' eventual capture by the English and her conversion to Christianity and marriage to John Rolfe.

  • follows Pocahontas' return to England where she discovers Smith is still alive and reveals what took place when they were reunited.

* The word "Indians" or "Virginia Indians" is used in this documentary because that was the preference of the people in the program when referred to as a group. When referred to as individuals, they prefer to be called by their specific nation, tribe, or district names.

Taping Rights: Can be used up to one year after the program is taped off the air.

Teacher's Guide
Pocahontas Revealed