actually had three names over the course of her life. The Powhatan
name given to her at birth was "Matoax" or "Little
Snow Feather." Her public name was "Pocahontas" which
means "Little Wanton" or "Girl who likes to frolic
and play." Whites initially speculated that 'Pocahontas' meant
"Bright Stream Between Two Hills." The name "Pocahontas"
may, in fact, have been a term of affection that was given to several
of Powhatan's daughters (Powhatan is said to have had several wives
and many children). Pocahontas's third name, Rebecca, was given
to her when she received a Christian baptism.
The Powhatans practiced a polytheistic religion. Their most powerful
deity was Okeus who was thought to be responsible for all evil. The
Powhatans believed that Okeus had to be appeased in order to prevent
misfortune for their people. They therefore sacrificed one child to
him annually. The Powhatans also believed in a less powerful god,
Ahone, who was beneficent and did not require sacrifices, but to whom
all Powhatans paid homage.
The Powhatans believed
that they had been created by a giant hare who kept them in a large
bag. A group of old women attacked the hare until he decided to release
his prisoners allowing them to inhabit the earth.
doubt Smith's romantic story of being rescued by the ten-year-old
Pocahontas. Smith's story seems doubtful because he published it the
same year that Pocahontas traveled to England and became an important
celebrity (1616), years after Smith's own return to England. In addition,
Smith is known to have told similar stories about his experiences
in other parts of the world. He claimed, for example, that a beautiful
Turkish Princess had saved his life when he was a captive in Hungary.
England, Pocahontas was accused of living in sin because she was married
both to John Rolfe and an Indian named Kocoum, whom she supposedly
married in 1610. It is not known whether this accusation was truthful
or created by an enemy of Pocahontas.
John Rolfe, returned to Jamestown after her death but left their son,
Thomas, in England to receive an education. When he was 20 years of
age, Thomas moved to the English colonies in America, where he became
an important member of the community.