Established on May 14, 1607, the colony of Jamestown, located near present-day Williamsburg, Virginia, was the first permanent English settlement in North America. In contrast, the Powhatan Empire led by Pocahontas’ father, Chief Powhatan, consisted of approximately 28 tribes of the Tidewater region and thousands of native individuals (Price). The Powhatan people idolized their leaders. Pocahontas, the tribes’ princess, was known to the Powhatan’s as Matoaka. She was a young girl of approximately 10 or 11 when she first became acquainted with the Jamestown colonists, and supposedly acted as a mediato...
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...nd the feuding colonists, her marriage to John Rolfe, her conversion to Christianity, and her aid to the Jamestown colonists spawned immense cultural tensions among colonists and the Powhatan people, as well as present day Native Americans. Her acculturation to European society and customs also created a widely debated and ambiguous juxtaposition between her indigenous identity as a Powhatan who was viewed as “savage” and “barbaric,” and her “civilized” and “cultured” identity as the married and evangelized icon of the civilization missions of the Europeans. As a result of the ambivalent contrast between her identities, Pocahontas has come to represent both the untouched Powhatan North American frontier and the civilizing and evangelizing process that the Europeans claim to have brought to the Native American people, and, as a result, the Powhatan Empire.
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