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Pocahontas and John Smith (Essay Sample)


This is an essay on How should we view traditional American stories about John Smith and Pocahontas, the version of events I do not consider more accurate and why - the version known by most Americans and most recently espoused in the movie by Disney and films such as New Line Cinema's The New World (using John Smith's written account as a primary source), or that espoused by the Powhatan Renape nation and other indigenous cultures (using oral history as a primary source)? i explore the implications this case has for the use of European historical sources to reconstruct past ways of life that are not available for ethnographic study and the implications they have for the use of indigenous accounts for the same purpose.


Pocahontas and John Smith
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Pocahontas and John Smith
Pocahontas and John Smith might be household names, but the true story of their magnificent lives have been covered up in myths that have persisted for a long time. Pocahontas real name was Matoaka, and her well-known name was just an alias, which meant a spoiled child. Years after the incident, John Smith wrote about how the daughter of a native emperor rescued him, an English explorer, from being killed by her father (Our Country, n.d.). However, Smith’s narrative, adopted by the mainstream culture and most recently by Disney and films, has been criticized for fabricating the real story. The Powhatan natives contend that the history documented by the English and adopted by mainstream culture is falsified purely for entertainment, and the fabricated story was used as an excuse to wage war against the Powhatan nation (, 2017). Nonetheless, the story of Pocahontas and John Smith should be viewed as the mending of alliances and compromises being made by conflicting parties as portrayed by the mainstream culture.
John Smith’s version of the story seems more accurate than that espoused by the Powhatan nation and other native cultures, which relies on oral history as the primary source. The argument by Powhatan nation that it is Pocahontas who was captured by the English people do not seem to hold water (, 2017). Although the story told by indigenous cultures may seem credible, oral history depends on the memory of individuals, which is arguably less reliable than a written one. The notes that survived from John Smith, portray Pocahontas as a girl with extraordinary strength who chose peace between her pe

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