It is implicit that most people have heard about the American Indian Princess, Pocahontas. It’s a commentary of a mysterious young girl who rescues an English explorer from death causing them to fall in love. It is one that is quite accepted and has even been developed into an animated movie by Walt Disney. There are similarities, but more differences between historical fact and what is presented in the Walt Disney motion picture.
Aside from evident variations of the film, such as communication and language, there are others including how Pocahontas and John Smith meet, which they do. In the beginning of the movie, Pocahontas is an independent, inquisitive woman who staggers upon the English settlement. As a result, Smith notices her and assures her that he will do no harm. The two immediately fall in love; it is a great plot for a movie but it is not how they met at all according to Philip L. Barbour’s book Pocahontas and Her World. .
Historically, Smith was the one who was adventuring, not Pocahontas (as Disney shows us). Smith was led into the chief’s hut as a captive by the Native Americans, and inside he witnessed the chief, Pocahontas’s father, lying in comfort surrounded by women he thought to be the chief’s wives. While in the hut; Smith was treated well and was given food and drinks. After some dialogue among the elders, two big stones were brought in, and Smith was forcibly extended out on them. The executioners stood over him with clubs ready to beat Smith’s brains out Suddenly, a little girl rushed from the chief’s side and put her head over Smith. The executioners released their captive, and the little girl pulled him to his feet. That, as described by Barbour is how Captain John Smith and Pocahontas met for the first time.
In the Disney animation, Pocahontas is a young adult of at least seventeen; yet historically, she was a girl of ten or twelve years old. Pocahontas” true age leads to questions concerning her affiliation with Captain John Smith.