“Pocahontas is one of those characters, rarely appearing on the theatre of life, which no age can claim, no country appropriate. She is the property of mankind, serving as a beacon to light us on our way, instruct us in our duty, and show us what the human mind is capable of performing when abandoned to its own operations.”
William Watson Waldron, 19th Century Author
The Pocahontas Project
In March of 2017 the world was reminded of the spiritual power and incredible courage and commitment inherent in the life of the woman called Matoaka, Amonute, and Rebecca, but most famously known as Pocahontas, when the community of Gravesend, England commemorated the 400th anniversary of her death and funeral there on March 21, 1617 >> below is a picture taken that day at St. George’s Church in Gravesend, the burial place of Pocahontas, with Virginia Indian Chiefs Ken Adams, Anne Richardson and Steve Atkins (l-r) with the Mayor and Vice-Mayor of the Borough of Gravesham at their statue to PocahontasWhile all these folks from England and Virginia gathered to honor and celebrate the anniversary of her death, it became quite apparent the spirit of Pocahontas is still very strong and relevant today, and that her extraordinary life example offers a compelling citizenship model for all mankind.
The world is searching for inspiration to connect diverse ideals and cultures, and the Project believes Pocahontas offers humanity a unique example of the power of civic engagement and how one person can truly change the course of world history. While she may or may not have physically saved John Smith’s life, Pocahontas’ hopes and purposeful intervention into the relationship between her people and the English certainly sustained John Smith and enabled the English settlement at Jamestown to continue. Pocahontas’ influence on the development of the “New World” grew significantly after her conversion to Christianity and her marriage to John Rolfe, and the Rolfe’s trip to England ultimately became one of the most important diplomatic missions of all time, enhanced because Pocahontas died in England and is buried there.
Inspired by Gravesend’s Pocahontas 400 commemoration, the Pocahontas Project is a collaborative effort between Replenish Richmond and the County of Gloucester Virginia created to spread the power of Pocahontas across Virginia and around the world, establishing her globally as an iconic spiritual symbol of Hope and Purpose. The Project believes Pocahontas will once again change the course of history as she inspires people around the world to tap into the spirit of Pocahontas that is within them, inspiring them to assume responsibility and start finding solutions to the world’s problems. The Project is using Pocahontas’ selfless life example as a cross-cultural ambassador to inspire hope and purpose in people everywhere in an effort to affect unity, collaboration and positive social change.
Project Objectives and Goals
The primary objective of the Pocahontas Project is to use the power of our past to change our collective future by connecting people to the rippling historical, social and cultural implications of the life of the woman most famously known as Pocahontas. Through her strong will and leadership Pocahontas promoted and facilitated peaceful co-existence and positive connections between vastly different cultures, embracing new ideas and diversity along the way. The world is crying out for more examples of her commitment to unity and collaboration and the Project intends to use Pocahontas’ example to once again change the future course of world events. Employing a set of programs, conversations, events, artistic interpretations, intellectual investigations and cultural intersections, the Project intends to inspire folks in Virginia, England and around the world through the life, legend and legacy of Pocahontas.
An important goal of the Project is to collect and categorize all historical and cultural accounts and representations of the life of Pocahontas through an academic effort that intersects with students, educators and scholars – primarily in Virginia and England. The Project will also perform a similar investigation into the life of her father, Powhatan. These historical investigations will look to frame the lives of Pocahontas and Powhatan and their impact on history from three different perspectives – the Virginia perspective, the English perspective and most importantly, the Native American perspective.
An equally important goal of the Project is to use the power of the life of Pocahontas to inspire people across the world, especially women, as they confront many of the same life challenges she faced. The Project will celebrate Pocahontas as one of the most influential women in history and work to establish her as the iconic spiritual symbol of Hope and Purpose. Through conversation, experiential activities, the creative arts, and the power of technology the Project will look to provide insight, perspective, comfort and inspiration to people through the lens of the life of Pocahontas.
Another goal of the Project is organizing the descendants of Pocahontas into a connected global community that collaborates to do good work in her name. It is estimated there are as many as 100,000 living descendants of Pocahontas through her marriage to John Rolfe and her son Thomas Rolfe, and possibly a second blood line through her marriage to Kocoum. It is hoped and expected that these descendants, living all over the world, will become an energy source for the Project and spread the power of Pocahontas to their family, friends and neighbors.
Finally, it is hoped that the Project’s attention to Pocahontas and Powhatan will inspire greater appreciation and respect for the importance of the role of Native Americans in the development of the Commonwealth of Virginia and the United States of America, and for the power and purpose of indigenous communities around the world. For Virginia, the Project will build on the social energy created by the recently passed legislation granting Federal recognition to six Virginia Indian Tribes that were part of the Powhatan Nation, the dedication of the Mantle commemoration on the Virginia Capitol grounds, and the many programs and events related to Virginia’s 2019 American Evolution Commemoration.
Project Tools and Tactics
The Pocahontas Project has several tools and tactics at its disposal and will utilize them to achieve its objectives and goals:
- The Gloucester Pocahontas Festival – The County of Gloucester is hosting the Gloucester Pocahontas Festival on Saturday November 16 and Sunday November 17, 2019. This year’s festival honors the 25th anniversary of the first Pocahontas Festival held in 1994 when the Gloucester Pocahontas Statue was dedicated. The Pocahontas Festival will become an annual event in Gloucester, celebrating the life, legend and legacy of Pocahontas, as well as the history and culture of the Virginia Indians.
- The Pocahontas Descendants Initiative – This Initiative, created by the County of Gloucester, intends to inspire the direct descendants of Pocahontas, possibly numbering more than 100,000, to collectively do good work in the name of their famous ancestor. The Initiative will also develop genealogical information and resources to allow people to research their potential ancestral relationship to Pocahontas. For more info >https://va-gloucestercounty.civicplus.com/1102/PocahontasIndian-Sites
- Pocahontas: Her Life, Legend and Legacy – The first Pocahontas Project publication will be a 44 page keepsake booklet called Pocahontas: Her Life, Legend and Legacy which will present Pocahontas from a Virginia, English and Native American perspective. The publication will be introduced in November at the Gloucester Pocahontas Festival
- The extraordinary collections pertaining to Pocahontas and Powhatan held by the Virginia Museum of History & Culture (VMHC), Jamestown, the National Park Service, and other Virginia history and culture institutions
- Virginia Museum of History & Culture’s HistoryConnects student education program about Pocahontas
- Henricus Historical Park – Nowhere is there a more compelling and ongoing interpretation of the life of Pocahontas than at Henricus Historical Park. John Pagano, Chief Interpretive Specialist at Henricus, is finishing a book about Pocahontas with the working title: “Captive, Convert, and Celebrity: The English Pocahontas, 1613-1617”. The Project is proud to be connected to Henricus and Mr. Pagano and his research, and will use his book to build on the educational foundation for students and adults about the life and legacy of Pocahontas. For more info > http://henricus.org/
- Pocahontas Leadership Program – Throughout her life Pocahontas exhibited her strong will and leadership abilities in the face of adversity. In an effort to pass on these positive characteristics to others who are facing adversity, the Pocahontas Leadership Program is being developed with the goal of motivating and inspiring families living in under-served and disadvantaged communities in Virginia through the life and legacy of Pocahontas. Once formally developed, the Program will look to begin its efforts working with families living in Thomas Rolfe Courts, a public housing community in the City of Hopewell named for the son of Rebecca Rolfe (aka Pocahontas), and families living along the Route 1 Corridor in Chesterfield County. The program is honored to have the intellectual support of Dr. Oliver Hill Jr. and is working to involve students from Virginia State University and John Tyler Community College in the process.
- Pocahontas Legacy Program – Pocahontas’ 22 years on earth included an incredible number of life-changing decisions and experiences, as a daughter of a Chief, as a wife and as a mother, and as a cross-cultural ambassador. The Pocahontas Project recognizes that 400 years later, her life example has significant relevance to decisions and experiences folks in Virginia, in England, and around the world are facing every day. The Pocahontas Legacy Program is being developed to change the future using the life of Pocahontas as a spiritual icon of Hope and Purpose. The Program will use a variety of tactics to achieve its goals including public information events, school based programming, creative arts projects, and community development efforts. As an Ambassador to our future, the Pocahontas Legacy Program will use the life experiences of Pocahontas to inspire conversation and introspection about today’s and tomorrow’s problems and issues, including immigration, racism, religious freedom, equality and women’s rights, human trafficking, embracing diversity, environmental stewardship and so much more
- Pocahontas Creative Arts Project – This tactic intends to inspire and facilitate an ever-expanding multi-disciplinary collection of creative art efforts wrapped around the life, legend and legacy of Pocahontas. The Project intends to provide participating artists an accurate history of the life of Pocahontas and a variety of perspectives on her cultural significance, over the past four hundred years and today. An important Project goal is to use the creative arts to intersect and inspire artists and audiences of all ages with the power of the woman known as Pocahontas. Another important Project goal is to inspire and facilitate commemoration and celebration of Pocahontas through a wide range of the creative arts – painting, sculpture, theater, ballet, dance, music, song, poetry, photography, and so much more.
- The Project’s most significant artistic connection made to date is with Border Crossings, a UK Theatrical Company that in 2017 presented a photography exhibit at Syon House called Pocahontas and After. The Project is inspired by a video created by Border Crossings as a part of their Pocahontas themed effort (2nd video in linked webpage http://www.open.edu/openlearn/history-the-arts/religious-studies/indigenous-rituals?in_menu=724959)
Project Letters of Support
Project 2019 Calendar of Events / Programs
The Pocahontas Project is working to maintain the following calendar of events/programs through 2019:
- September 2019 – Introduction of the Pocahontas Legacy Program with the first Pocahontas Conversation – details to be announced soon
- November 2019 – Distribution of the 1st Project publication > Pocahontas: Her Life, Legend and Legacy
- November 15 -22, 2019 – Border Crossings Workshop – investigating and developing a new play about Pocahontas
- November 16 + 17, 2019 – Gloucester Pocahontas Festival – details to be announced soon
Project Funding and Resource Partners:
The Pocahontas Project is a community based initiative working to gain the support of many different elements of the regional community of Richmond and the Commonwealth of Virginia. The Project is very thankful to its first Founding Sponsor, the Richmond Branch of the English Speaking Union, whose financial contribution facilitated the early development of the Project. The Project also appreciates the generous allocation of intellectual support and other resources from the Virginia Museum of History & Culture. The Project has developed a fiscal agent relationship with the Gloucester Historical Society in Virginia and looks forward to involving many more funding and resource partners as we progress.
Updated on 8-14-2019 by:
Rick Tatnall > Replenish Richmond / The Pocahontas Project