The Pocahontas Project

The Pocahontas Project logo #1“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 formally named 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 in 1617.  While folks from England and Virginia, including leaders of several Virginia Indian Tribes, gathered to honor and celebrate her life, it became quite apparent the spirit of Pocahontas is still very strong and relevant today and that her life example offers a compelling citizenship model for all mankind.

At a time when the world is searching for inspiration to connect diverse ideals and cultures, Pocahontas offers humanity a compelling example of the power of civic engagement and how one person can truly change the course of 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 to continue at Jamestown.  Pocahontas’ influence on the development of the “New World” grew significantly after her marriage to John Rolfe and her conversion to Christianity, and the Rolfe’s trip to England ultimately became one of the most important diplomatic missions of all time, in large part because Pocahontas died in England and is buried there.

The Pocahontas Project is an effort inspired by the Gravesend Pocahontas 400 commemoration intended to honor Pocahontas’ legacy by establishing her as an iconic spiritual symbol of Hope and Purpose.  The Project believes Pocahontas will once again change the course of history by inspiring people to tap into the spirit of Pocahontas that is within them and start assuming responsibility for fixing the world’s problems.  In November 2017 the Project declared its intentions and began a 2+ year process to expand awareness across Virginia and England, as well as around the world, of the important lessons to be learned from the life of Pocahontas.  The Project is using her selfless life example to inspire hope and purpose in people across the globe in an effort to affect unity, collaboration and positive social change.

Project Purpose and Goals

The purpose of The Pocahontas Project is to harness the power created by the 400th anniversary of the death of Pocahontas in England in March, 1617 to motivate and inspire a multi-level academic and global community development exercise offering many future quality of life benefits and opportunities for all who participate.  Employing a set of programs, conversations, investigations and events, the Project uses the power of our past to change our collective future, all connected to the rippling historical and social implications of the life of Pocahontas.

A major goal of the Project is to collect and categorize all historical and cultural accounts and representations of the life of Pocahontas with an academic effort that intersects with students, educators and scholars.  The Project will use this specific attention to Pocahontas to perform a similar investigation into the life of her father, Powhatan.  These historical investigations will frame their lives and their impact from three different perspectives – the Virginia perspective, the English perspective and most importantly, the Native American perspective.  The Project will use the results of these academic efforts to promote changes in the way humanity and the history books tell the story of Pocahontas and Powhatan.

Another 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.

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.  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 Commemoration.

Project Objectives

The Pocahontas Project has many objectives, including:

  • Setting the historical record straight by telling the TRUE history of Pocahontas and her father Powhatan through the investigative work of all levels of the academic spectrum – 1st graders and PhDs and everyone in between.
    • Step #1 – Assemble into a relational database all known information, artifacts and media currently in existence that have any relationship to Pocahontas and Powhatan > including biographies, artistic renderings and descriptions, articles and other manuscripts, videos and movies, stories and oral histories, anything else
      • A critical component of this effort is to gain the oral history perspective of all of the Virginia Indian Tribes that have a descendant relationship or historic relationship to Powhatan and Pocahontas
      • As a part of this information gathering process, the Project will create a separate database of the descendants of Pocahontas and authenticate the list
    • Step #2 – Organize all items by subject matter and academically categorize each item as fact, fiction, fable, or in question and up for debate
    • Step #3 – Present the results of Step #1 + #2 in an academic and scientific manner to educate and influence the future telling of the story of Pocahontas and Powhatan, especially as relates to the education of our youth
      • The Project intends to develop the academic credibility to affect changes in the Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL) sections relevant to Pocahontas and Powhatan as well as to inspire more school systems across the Commonwealth to include the story of Pocahontas and Powhatan in their academic curriculum
    • Step #4 – Make the results of Steps #1 + #2 + #3 available to folks in Virginia, in England and around the world through a variety of means and medias
  • Pocahontas Future Program – Pocahontas’ 22 years on earth were quite remarkable and many of her life experiences can be directly related to social issues folks are currently facing in Virginia, in England, and around the world.  The Pocahontas Future Program will create a series of discussion topics and forums using the life experiences of Pocahontas to inspire conversation and introspection about today’s and tomorrow’s problems and issues
    • Civic Engagement – Pocahontas Style > Discuss current social issues including immigration, racism, religious freedom, equality and women’s rights, human trafficking, embracing diversity, environmental stewardship
  • Promoting Pocahontas as one of the most influential women in the history of the world, in large part because she is still very relevant in the 21st Century and positioned to remain relevant for a long time to come.
    • Complement and supplement the efforts of the Virginia 2019 Commemoration and the Virginia Women’s Monument Commission
  • Celebrating and influencing folks across Virginia and around the world to take full advantage of the collections pertaining to Pocahontas and Powhatan held by the Virginia Museum of History & Culture, Henricus and Jamestown
  • Organizing the descendants of Pocahontas into a connected global community that collaborates to do good work in the name of Pocahontas
  • Strengthening connections between Virginia and England as well as between America and the United Kingdom
    • Building on the connections made by the multiple Virginia delegations to England in March 2017 by establishing a variety of academic relationships and community friendships between folks of all ages, first in Virginia and England and then around the world, all inspired by Pocahontas.
  • Supporting and promoting the three Pocahontas 400 Legacy Programs which were inspired by and intertwined with the March 2017 trip to Richmond upon Thames for the Pocahontas 400th commemoration:

    • Richmonds of the World (ROTW) programming at Franklin Military Academy (FMA)
      • Connecting Richmond Public Schools and the RVA with the 90 other communities around the world named Richmond, creating a global community of Richmond
    • James River Park System / Thames Landscape Strategy Twinning relationship
      • Involving folks in both Richmonds to further the longstanding, mutually beneficial partnership between these two organizations that are critical to the future of the James River and the River Thames
    • James River Park System (JRPS) Student Service Learning Project
      • Working with Richmond Public School students, starting at Franklin Military Academy, to develop a service learning program that intersects students with the James River and the James River Park System, with an emphasis on supporting and maintaining the JRPS Trail system

Project Tools and Tactics

The Pocahontas Project has several tools and tactics at its disposal and will utilize them to achieve its objectives:

  • Virginia Museum of History & Culture’s HistoryConnects program about Pocahontas
    • The Project will use the HistoryConnects tool to lay the informational foundation about Pocahontas for students across Virginia and in England – this interactive virtual classroom can accommodate up to 100 different sites at one time.  Two programs are currently planned for the November 2018, dates to be determined.  One program will be geared towards 4th graders (which is when Pocahontas is taught in VA Schools)  and one geared for secondary age students.  Schools to be invited to participate are listed at the bottom of this page and include schools from:
      • Virginia Cities of Hampton, Hopewell, Petersburg, Richmond
      • Virginia Counties of Charles City, Chesterfield, Gloucester, Hanover, Henrico, King William, New Kent, Northumberland, Powhatan
      • English Boroughs of Gravesham, Hounslow and Richmond upon Thames
      • Cultural sites to be included with the schools:
        • Several sites connected to Virginia Indian Tribes
        • Henricus
  • The extraordinary collections pertaining to Pocahontas and Powhatan held by the Virginia Museum of History & Culture, Henricus, Jamestown and other Virginia institutions.
  • The Pocahontas Leadership Program created to motivate and inspire youth and single mothers living in Virginia’s public housing communities through the life and legacy of Pocahontas.  The Program will begin its efforts at the Thomas Rolfe Courts, a public housing community in Hopewell VA named for the son of Rebecca Rolfe, aka Pocahontas.
  • The Pocahontas Project Booklet – An informational and keepsake publication offering the details of Pocahontas’ life and the many images of her from the past four centuries, as well as instruction and introspection related to the power of Hope and Purpose and how to tap into the Pocahontas that is within every person.
  • Gravesend – The Play.  English playwright Kieran Knowles has written a play about Pocahontas called Gravesend which the Project will use as a major tool in its effort to spread the power of Pocahontas.  The Project is currently planning and orchestrating the World Premiere tour of Gravesend throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia, opening October 26, 2018 in Gloucester and running through November 18th.  For more information on the play Gravesend, visit Kieran Knowles’ website >
  • John Pagano, Interpretive Specialist at Henricus is writing a book about Pocahontas, hopefully to be available to the public by late 2018 / early 2019.  The Project will look to benefit from Mr. Pagano’s research and will use his book to build on the educational foundation for students and adults about the life and legacy of Pocahontas.
  • There are probably 100,000+ people around the world who are direct descendants of Pocahontas.  The Project intends to connect with these folks and inspire their intellectual and financial support of the Project and to collectively do good work in the name of their ancestor.

Project Letters of Support

Senator Tim Kaine letter of Support for Pocahontas History Project

Dr Dana Bedden Letter of Support for Pocahontas History Project

James River Park System Pocahontas Support Letter

Northumberland resolution for Pocahontas Project

Gloucester support letter for Gravesend

Project Calendar of Events / Programs

The Pocahontas Project is working to maintain the following calendar of events/programs through 2018:

  • July 2018 – VHS HistoryConnects Pocahontas Program Preparation – Formally inviting and confirming the schools and cultural sites that will take part in the November HistoryConnects Pocahontas Programs
  • August 2018 – Pocahontas Future Program – 1st Pocahontas Community Conversation (hopefully in Richmond @ the Virginia Museum of History & Culture, date and details to be determined)
  • Summer 2018 – Introduction of the Pocahontas Leadership Program, starting at Thomas Rolfe Courts in Hopewell
  • September 2018 – Completion and printing of The Pocahontas Project Booklet
  • October 26 – November 18, 2018 – World Premiere Virginia tour of Gravesend the Play
    • As many as 25 performances in different theaters across the Commonwealth, as well as multiple events and programs celebrating the life and legacy of Pocahontas
  • November 13 + 14, 2018 – VHS HistoryConnects Pocahontas Program – Two separate programs – one for 4th graders and one for secondary students

Partners, hopefully to include the following:

The Pocahontas Project is working to connect with a wide-ranging set of schools, agencies, organizations and individuals which will collectively strengthen the impact of the Project and the integrity of the results of its academic investigation.  The Project is honored to have the support of Dr. Charles F. “Charlie” Bryan, Jr., former CEO and President of the Virginia Historical Society, who has agreed to be the Project’s Coordinating Historical Consultant.  The following agencies, entities and individuals are invited to participate, with more to come:

  • Virginia K-12 School Systems
    • Charles City County
    • Chesterfield County
    • Gloucester County
    • Goochland County
    • Hanover County
    • Henrico County
    • King William County
    • New Kent County
    • Northumberland County
    • Powhatan County
    • Richmond County
    • City of Hampton
    • City of Hopewell
    • Richmond City
  • Cultural Institutions
    • Virginia Museum of History and Culture
    • Henricus
    • Virginia Foundation for the Humanities
    • Library of Virginia
    • National Museum of the American Indian
    • Hampton History Museum
    • Jamestown / Yorktown Foundation
    • Pocahontas Island Black History Museum
  • Higher Education Institutions, hopefully to include:
    • William & Mary – Omohundro Institute
  • Government
    • US Department of State > US Ambassador to UK
    • US Department of Education
    • Virginia Department of Education
    • National Park Service
    • Virginia Tourism Corporation
  • Communities, institutions and folks in England
    • Gravesend / Borough of Gravesham
      • St. George’s Church
      • St. George’s Church of England School, Gravesend, Kent
      • Other Gravesend schools, to be determined
    • Brentford / London Borough of Hounslow
      • Secondary school, to be determined
      • Primary school, to be determined
    • London Borough of Richmond upon Thames
      • Grey Court School, Ham
      • Other Richmond upon Thames schools, to be determined
    • The National Archives, Kew
    • Duke of Northumberland, Syon Park
    • City of London
    • Kieran Knowles and Yasmine Hassabu
  • The Native American community, hopefully to include:
    • Eight Virginia Tribes with a descendant relationship to and/or were allied with the Powhatan paramount chiefdom
      • Chickahominy, Eastern Chickahominy, Mattaponi, Upper Mattaponi, Nansemond, Pamunkey, Patawomeck, Rappahannock


Updated on 6-26-2018 by:

Rick Tatnall > Replenish Richmond / The Pocahontas Project