The Truth Behind the Real-Life Story of Pocahontas

Disney might have got some aspects of the story of Pocahontas right, but the story that you have seen on the screen is a fluffed-out version of what actually happened.

Pocahontas, 1616.
Pocahontas, 1616. Photo by The Print Collector/Print Collector/Getty Images

The true story behind the daughter of the chief of the Native American tribe is something a lot more disturbing than what you are aware of. In fact, Pocahontas wasn’t even her real name.

Pocahontas Did Not Really Stand Up for John Smith

As the popular myth goes, Pocahontas was merely a young girl when she stood up against the execution of John Smith by her Native American tribe.

Virginia: John Rolfe marries the Indian Pocahontas
Virginia: John Rolfe marries the Indian Pocahontas. Photo by ullstein bild / ullstein bild via Getty Images

However, this version of events was far from the truth. In reality, it is doubtful for this young girl to have spoken up in favor of a white man. Historians have also concluded that John Smith’s version of the story is highly fictionalized as well.

Pocahontas Was Never in Love With John Smith

The Disney animated movie portrays Pocahontas as an adult woman who falls in love with the English colonizer, John Smith. However, this can’t have happened in real life.

Captain John Smith
Captain John Smith. Photo by Archive Photos/Getty Images

Pocahontas was merely a 9 or 10-year-old girl when John Smith went about ravaging her village. There is also reason to doubt John Smith’s account of Pocahontas bringing food to the European settlers. Apparently, Jamestown was too far away from the village (and was also divided by a huge river) to allow Pocahontas easy access to the settlement.

Pocahontas Was Captured by the English

The English settlers were known to kidnap and rape women from the native American tribes. Their sexual exploits, however, enraged the tribal men who vowed to take revenge.

Pocahontas Baptised
Pocahontas Baptised. Photo by MPI/Getty Images

To have some leverage against the native tribes, the English settlers took Pocahontas as a hostage. Although she was only 16 years old at the time and extremely weak from having just given birth, Pocahontas was locked up in the bottom of a ship.

She Had to Watch Her Husband Die

Pocahontas had been married to a tribal man who tried to rescue her from the boat. Unfortunately, he was ruthlessly killed in the attempt. As the days went by, Pocahontas became increasingly more hopeless and dejected.

Pocahontas Saves John Smith
Pocahontas Saves John Smith. Photo by Kean Collection/Getty Images

She began starving herself when the English settlers brought her sister around as motivation for her to live. Once the war with the tribe had been completed, Pocahontas was forcibly “civilized” and converted to Christianity before she was taken to England.