A Story From: United States
Read Time: ["6 to 10mins"]
For Ages: 5 to 7yrs., 8 to 10yrs.
Read More of This Story
“We cannot take food to the fort anymore,” said Powhatan.
When the men in the fort heard the news, they got angry. They marched into their cabins. They came out with guns, and shot the guns into the sky. Powhatan got angry, too. He said, “I warn you, white men! Do not go anywhere near our village! If you do, you will be sorry!” The men of Jamestown could not understand what Powhatan was saying. But they could tell from his face that they were not friends anymore.
Soon after that, John Smith was going through the woods looking for food. He was close to the village of Powhatan. Too close. Powhatan’s brother and some of the tribe saw him pass. In a flash, they jumped out at him. They held John Smith down and took him back to Powhatan’s village. “Now it will be done, once and for all,” said Powhatan. “I will be Chief to all the people in the fort.”
“Do not go anywhere near our village! If you do, you will be sorry!”
That winter, John Smith could not leave the village. Still, Powhatan made him feel at home. Pocahontas, who knew him from before, spent time with him. Day after day, they would teach each other the words that each other’s people spoke.
As the snow melted, the people of Powhatan’s village started to get ready for a festival. Powhatan called John Smith into his longhouse. “The festival will soon be here,” he said. “What festival?” said John Smith. Now he could better understand what Powhatan was saying. “The festival to mark the time when your people join my people. When I become your Chief.” “That will never happen!” shouted John Smith. Powhatan did not know the words the young man was saying. But the Chief could tell that John Smith was angry. “Your people have no choice!” said Powhatan. “If you will not join my tribe, you must die!”
“That will never happen!” shouted John Smith.
No one saw Pocahontas slip into the longhouse. Powhatan said: “Put his head on the rock!” Two strong braves grabbed John Smith and pushed his head down on a rock. Powhatan lifted a large rock above him, ready to strike. “No!” the girl cried out. All of a sudden, Pocahontas rushed up and bent over John Smith, placing her own head over his. Powhatan held the rock high in the air. “Pocahontas!” he cried out. “Move away!” “I will not move!” she said, turning her head to the side. “Let him be. Let all of them be!” Powhatan held up the rock. Then, he lowered his arms. “My daughter,” he said in a soft voice. “You are right. No good can come from hurting these people.”
After that, Powhatan set John Smith free. Powhatan’s tribes brought food again to the men in the fort, this time smoked meat and fish. In return, the men in the fort gave them glass beads and copper. They traded what they could, and each was the better for it.
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*Note- Some historians believe that Pocahontas was about ten when John Smith came to America. Others as well as Disney, portray her as a young adult to blossom a love story among herself and John Smith. In our version, we leave it up to the reader.
The story told of Pocahontas that is most famous tells about the time she saved the life of settler John Smith. As Smith himself wrote about it himself years after, the daughter of Chief Powhatan rushed in and placed her head upon his own when her father, Powhatan, was about to kill him. This is the scene that was portrayed in Disney’s movie Pocahontas, too. However, historians note that Smith also wrote about a time he was saved by a Turkish princess in a very similar way. Leading historians to wonder - did Smith make up both stories? Other historians believe Smith relayed what he thought he experienced, but in fact he had misinterpreted events and Powhatan’s tribe was honoring him with a ceremony to welcome him to the tribe.
The version of the Pocahontas tale told below draws from both interpretations as well as from other credible historical and contemporary accounts. The ultimate fate of the Powhatan Confederacy was defeat. However, there were periods of peace, and the end of this tale leads to one of them.