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Pocahontas: Savior Of English America Or Traitor To Her People

1266 words - 6 pages

“She [Pocahontas] never spoke of herself, she never represented her emotions, presence or history. He [John Smith] spoke for and represented her” –Edward Said Orientalism 62
Pocahontas, a Powhatan Indian Princess, emerged from a culture of dark superstitions and bettered the relationship with a small group of English settlers in Jamestown and the English rulers of the New World. Her father, Chief Powhatan, was a respected and influential leader, who, by the seventeenth century had made his people not less primitive, but certainly stronger and more formidable than before. In 1605 the English were just discovering the promise land, and the Indians were just discovering the Europeans along with their weapons and diseases. Young Pocahontas managed to uphold moral relations between the Powhatan Indians and early English colonists in Jamestown, Virginia through John Smith, and English captain. Pocahontas single handily instigated one of the scarce eras of harmony between the Indians and the European colonist.
John Smith and two of his troops were shot at from behind bushes and wounded by the Powhatans. John Smith took up his gun and started shooting; killing four of the fifteen Indians, but the Indians backed Smith up to a river. He fell in, and could either let go of his gun or drown. Smith released the firearm and accepted the help of the Indians. Pocahontas, who Smith recalled as "a child of ten years old", witnessed this catastrophe and “Got his head in her arms, and laid her own upon his to save him from death: whereat the emperor was contented he should live to make him hatches.”
The Powhatons were a ceremonious tribe who greeted important visitors formally with a large feast and festive dancing. However, it was not uncommon to put prisoners to death in a public ceremony, it was no more savage than the English customs of public disembowelment of thieves and the burning of women accused of being witches. John Smith was captured and forced to stretch on two flat stones, then the little Indian girl came up and put herself on his body as to say, ‘Kill me instead’. Smith lived and remained in Jamestown and Pocahontas visited him often, carrying messages from her father. The Virginia Company of London, an English joint stock company, acknowledged Pocahontas's propaganda value as an example of Anglo-Indian harmony, of missionary success among the natives, and of the prospect that Indians could be persuaded to adopt English ways. "Were you not afraid to come into my father's country, and caused fear in him and all of his people and fear you here I should call you father: I tell you I will, and you shall call me child, and so I will be for ever and ever your countryman." [Pocahontas to John Smith]
Relations between the Powhatans and the English remained unstable. Wahunsoncock, Powhatan Confrederacy, recalled that, “In such circumstances, my men must watch, and if a twig should but break, all would cry out, ‘Here comes Captain Smith’; and so, in...

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