PEOPLE IN AMERICA , a program in Special English on the Voice of America .
She lived four hundred years ago in what became the American state of Virginia .
She was the first Native American to marry a white person . I ' m Shirley Griffith .
And I ' m Ray Freeman . Today , we tell about Pocahontas , the daughter of the chief of the Powhatan Indian tribe .
Pocahontas was born in fifteen ninety - five . She was one of twenty children of Chief Powhatan .
Powhatan ruled a group of more than twenty Indian tribes in territory that is now the eastern state of Virginia .
In sixteen - oh - seven , the Virginia company in England sent colonists to settle the land that later became the United States of America .
The leader of the English settlers was John Ratcliffe . He claimed the land for King James of England .
He named the new colony Jamestown , Virginia . The English colonists did not know that the area already was settled by Indians .
The Powhatan Indians lived in the area where the English colonists landed .
They were part of a large group of American tribes who spoke the Algonquian language .
The Powhatans had lived in the area for almost one thousand years . They built villages .
They grew beans , corn , squash and melons . They created a strong political system , led by powerful chiefs like Powhatan . His power and wealth were evident .
Women of the tribes controlled the houses and the fields . They made clothing of animal skins and containers of clay .
Men hunted and fished for food . Both men and women wore earrings and other objects made of shells , pearls and copper .
The young Pocahontas often visited Jamestown during the colony ' s first months .
She was about twelve years old . The colonists knew her well . She became an important link between the colonists and her father , Powhatan .
The Indians ' culture was very different from that of the English settlers .
The two groups did not understand each other . The misunderstandings led to hostile incidents between the colonists and the Indians .
John Smith was an explorer , soldier and a leader of the Jamestown colony .
He was captured in sixteen - oh - seven by followers of Powhatan .
Captain Smith wrote about this incident in a book that was published in sixteen twenty - four .
He wrote that Pocahontas saved him from being executed by Powhatan .
This story has been repeated for hundreds of years . This is what most people know about Pocahontas .
Most historians , however , do not believe that Pocahontas saved the life of John Smith .
Some believe that Captain Smith invented the story after reading about a similar event that took place in Florida .
That event involved a captured Spanish explorer , an Indian chief and the chief ' s daughter .
Some historians do not believe that John Smith ' s life was in danger .
They say that what Captain Smith thought was to be his execution was really an Indian ceremony .
The ceremony was meant to show that Powhatan accepted Smith as part of his tribe .
Historians say the Indian chief wanted to make the English colonists his allies .
After Captain Smith ' s capture , the Indians and the colonists agreed to a truce .
Pocahontas visited Jamestown more often . She may not have really saved John Smith ' s life .
But most experts agree that Pocahontas helped the colonists . She brought them corn when they were starving .
She once was said to have warned the colonists about a surprise attack by the Indians .
John Smith had been wounded during his capture . He returned to England . Hostilities once again broke out between the Indians and the English settlers .
In sixteen eleven , Thomas Dale became acting governor of the colony . He started a new aggressive policy toward the Indians .
Two years later , an English soldier , Samuel Argall , kidnapped Pocahontas . She was about eighteen years old .
The colonists kidnapped her because they wanted to prevent more attacks by the Indians .
They also wanted to force chief Powhatan to negotiate a peace agreement .
Pocahontas lived as a hostage in the Jamestown settlement for more than a year .
A colonist , John Rolfe , taught her English . He also taught her the Christian religion .
Pocahontas was the first Native American to become Christian . She changed her name to Rebecca .
In sixteen fourteen , she married John Rolfe in the church in Jamestown . She was the first Indian woman to marry a white man .
Her husband believed that their marriage would be good for the colony .
John Rolfe said he married Pocahontas for the honor of our country , for the glory of God .
Governor Dale immediately opened negotiations with Powhatan . The result was a period of peace that lasted for about eight years .
Pocahontas ' husband was a tobacco grower . She taught him the Indian way of planting tobacco .
This method improved the tobacco crop . Tobacco later became America ' s first successful crop .
In sixteen fifteen , Pocahontas and John Rolfe had a son . They named him Thomas .
The next year Pocahontas and her family sailed to England for a visit .
In London , she was treated like a famous person . She was officially presented to king James the First . She also met John Smith again .
The Virginia Company said her visit proved that it was possible to have good relations between the English colonists and the Indians .
The company urged more people to move from England to the Virginia colony .
Pocahontas had her picture painted while visiting England . She is wearing the clothes she wore when she met the King .
They are the kind of clothes that were popular in England in the sixteen hundreds . This picture is the only one that really is of her .
Pocahontas and her family stayed in England for seven months . They prepared to return to Jamestown .
But Pocahontas became sick with smallpox . She died from the disease . She was buried in Gravesend , England . She was twenty - two years old .
Her son , Thomas Rolfe , was raised in England . When he was twenty , he returned to Virginia .
He lived as a settler in his mother ' s native land . He married and had a daughter .
Through Thomas Rolfe , a number of famous Virginians have family ties to Pocahontas .
These families are proud to claim their ties to Pocahontas . They call her Virginia ' s First Lady .
Pocahontas left no writings of her own . The only reports about her from the time were written by John Smith .
His reports may not all have been true . Yet the story of her rescue of Captain Smith became a popular folk story .
Americans know that Pocahontas played a part in the early history of Virginia .
They remember her bravery and friendship . Americans also remember her for what she represented as a Native American : the hope of close relations between the white people and the Indians .
Pocahontas is honored in the United States Capitol building in Washington , D . C . There are three art works of her in the large , round , main hall of the capitol .
There are more representations of her than any other American except for the nation ' s first president , George Washington .
The three art works show the popular stories about Pocahontas .
One is a painting of Pocahontas taking part in a religious ceremony in which she became a Christian . Two others show her saving the life of Captain John Smith .
Many different American groups have used the name and some version of a picture of Pocahontas .
Whale hunters in the nineteenth century named ships after Pocahontas in honor of her bravery . They also put small statues of her on their ships .
Both the confederate forces in the South and the Union forces in the North used her name or picture during the American Civil War .
A picture of Pocahontas was on the flag of a division of Confederate forces called the Guard of the Daughters of Powhatan . Union forces named a warship after the Indian woman .
Many American writers have written about Pocahontas . The Walt Disney company produced a popular children ' s movie about her .
Today , visitors to the Jamestown settlement in Virginia can see what life was like there in the sixteen hundreds .
They can see copies of the ships that brought the English settlers .
And they can see statues of three of the people important in early America : John Smith , Chief Powhatan , and his daughter -- Pocahontas .