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

Project Purpose and Goals

The purpose of the Pocahontas Project is to use the 400th anniversary of the death of Pocahontas in England in March, 1617 as motivation and inspiration for a multi-level academic and community development exercise offering many future quality of life benefits and opportunities.  The Project intends to use the power of the past to change our collective future, concentrating on 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.  Through conversation, the creative arts, and the power of technology the Project will look to provide insight, perspective and comfort to people through the lens of the life of Pocahontas.

Finally, it is hoped that the information and cooperative energy inspired by the Pocahontas Project will help to affect a long overdue outcome – U.S. Federal recognition of the Virginia Indian Tribes.  All aspects of the Project and its many components and activities will be orchestrated to best support the Federal recognition process.

Project Objectives

The Pocahontas Project has several 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 the seven Virginia Indian Tribes that have a descendant relationship to Powhatan
      • As a part of this information gathering process, the Project will create a separate database of the descendants of Pocahontas and authenticate the list
      • Establish the Virginia Historical Society as the manager of the Pocahontas/Powhatan database and as the undisputed institutional and scholarly expert in the life and legacy of Pocahontas and Powhatan
    • 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 2017 and is positioned to remain relevant well into the future
  • 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 (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
    • 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

Project Tools and Tactics

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

  • Virginia Historical Society HistoryConnects program about Pocahontas
    • The Project will use the VHS HistoryConnects tool to lay the informational foundation about Pocahontas for students across Virginia and in England – this interactive virtual classroom can accommodate up to 50 different sites.  Two programs are being planned for late September 2017 – one for 4th graders (when Pocahontas is taught in VA Schools)  and one for secondary age students.  Schools to be invited to participate are listed at the bottom of this page and include schools from:
      • Cities of Hampton, Hopewell, Petersburg, Richmond
      • Counties of Charles City, Chesterfield, Gloucester, Hanover, Henrico, New Kent, Northumberland, Powhatan
      • English Boroughs of Gravesham, Hounslow and Richmond upon Thames
      • Cultural sites to be included with the schools:
        • Several sites for the Virginia tribes
        • Henricus
  • The Virginia Historical Society is in the midst of creating a traveling exhibit about Pocahontas.  The Project will support this tool as an excellent way to educate citizens of the Commonwealth about Pocahontas, and will do all it can to facilitate the exhibit to travel to Gravesend and other sites in England.
  • John Pagano, Interpretive Specialist at Henricus is in the midst of writing a book about Pocahontas, hopefully to be available to the public in the spring of 2018.  The Project will use this tool to build on the educational foundation for students and adults about the life and legacy of Pocahontas.
  • Gravesend – The Play.  English playwright Kieran Knowles has written a play about Pocahontas called Gravesend which the Project intends to use as a major tool in its effort to spread the power of Pocahontas.  The Project is currently orchestrating a Virginia tour for the play to occur in August of 2017.
  • 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.

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 for 2017

The Pocahontas Project is working to maintain the following calendar of events/programs for the balance of 2017:

  • June 2017 – HistoryConnects Pocahontas Program Preparation – Formally defining schools and cultural sites that will take part in the HistoryConnects Pocahontas Program and assigning summer Pocahontas Projects to the students who will participate in the two September 2017 programs
  • July 2017 – Pocahontas Project event at Henricus (content and date to be determined)
  • August 2017 – World Premiere Virginia tour of Gravesend the Play (all month)
    • Currently planned are 25 performances in 7 different theaters across the Commonwealth, as well as multiple events and programs celebrating the life and legacy of Pocahontas
  • August 2017 – roll-out of Virginia Historical Society Pocahontas traveling exhibit
    • Initial location hopefully to be coordinated with a Gravesend play venue
  • September 2017 – HistoryConnects Pocahontas Program – Two separate programs – one for 4th graders and one for secondary students (late September, dates to be determined)
  • October 2017 – Pocahontas Future Program – 1st Pocahontas Community Conversation @ VHS (date to be determined)
  • November 2017 – American Indian Film Festival of VirginiaPocahontas Reframed (Nov 17-19 @ the Byrd Theater)

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 (# of schools)
    • Charles City County (2)
    • Chesterfield County (6)
      • ? Elementary School
      • ? Elementary School
      • ? Middle School
      • ? Middle School
      • ? High School
      • ? High School
    • Gloucester County (2)
    • Goochland County (2)
    • Hanover County (2)
    • Henrico County (6)
      • Montrose Elementary School
      • Varina-Mehfoud Elementary School
      • Fairfield Middle School
      • John Rolfe Middle School
      • Highland Springs High School
      • Varina High School
    • New Kent County (2)
    • Northumberland County (2)
    • Powhatan County (2)
    • Richmond County (2)
    • City of Hampton (2)
    • City of Hopewell (2)
    • Richmond City (6)
      • Chimborazo Elementary School
      • Fairfield Court Elementary School
      • Linwood Holton Elementary School
      • Armstrong High School
      • Franklin Military Academy
      • Martin Luther King Middle School
  • Cultural Institutions
    • Henricus
    • Virginia Historical Society
    • 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
    • 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
  • English Partners
    • Gravesend / Borough of Gravesham
      • St. George’s Church
      • St. George’s Church of England School, Gravesend, Kent
      • Primary School, Gravesend, to be determined
    • London Borough of Hounslow
      • Secondary school, to be determined
      • Primary school, to be determined
    • London Borough of Richmond upon Thames
      • Grey Court School, Ham
      • Primary school in RuT, to be determined
    • The National Archives, Kew
    • Duke of Northumberland, Syon Park
    • City of London
    • Kieran Knowles and the cast and crew of Gravesend, a theatrical performance about the life of Pocahontas
  • Native American Partners
    • 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
  • Individuals

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Updated on 6-14-2017 by:

Rick Tatnall > Replenish Richmond / The Pocahontas Project