Happily Never After: The Real Story of Pocahontas

Disney got some aspects of the story of Pocahontas correct; however, they also left some things out. The on-screen portrayal is a fluffed-out version of what really happened. The true details behind the daughter of the chief of the Native American tribe are much darker than Disney leads you to believe. For starters, Pocahontas wasn’t even her real name.

A portrait of Pocahontas.
Photo by The Print Collector/Print Collector/Getty Images

The myth goes as follows: Pocahontas was just a young girl when she stood up against the execution of John Smith by her Native American tribe. But this version of events doesn’t exactly line up with history.

She Never Loved John Smith

In reality, there is an extremely low chance that a young girl actually spoke up to help a white man. Historians came to the conclusion that John Smith’s portrayal in the Disney version is also highly fictionalized.

John Rolfe marries the Indian Pocahontas.
Photo by ullstein bild/Getty Images

In the animated movie, Pocahontas is portrayed as an adult woman who falls in love with The English colonizer, John Smith. But in real life, this never could have happened. Pocahontas was only about 9 or 10 years old when John Smith destroyed her village. But that’s not all; there is also reason to doubt John Smith’s account of Pocahontas bringing food to European settlers.

She Was Captured and Tortured

As it turns out, Jamestown was too far away from the village for Pocahontas, so get easy access. Plus, there was a huge river dividing Pocahontas’s village and the settlement. Here is what really happened: The English settlers were famous for kidnapping and raping women from Native American tribes.

Pocahontas is baptized.
Photo by MPI/Getty Images

The tribal men were enraged by their sexual exploits and vowed to take revenge. In order for the English settlers to have some leverage against the native tribes, they took Pocahontas as a hostage. 16-year-old Pocahontas was incredibly weak since she had just given birth, but she was kept locked up at the bottom of the ship.

Not a Fairy-Tale Ending

Pocahontas was married to a tribal man, and he tried to rescue his wife from the boat. Unfortunately, that attempt for him was ruthlessly killed. As the days went on, Pocahontas became more and more hopeless and depressed. She didn’t want to do it anymore.

A painting of Pocahontas saving John Smith.
Photo by Kean Collection/Getty Images

She started starving herself, but the English settlers brought her sister around to give Pocahontas the motivation to live. Once the war came to an end, Pocahontas was forcibly “civilized” and converted to Christianity before she was taken to England. I know, this isn’t the happy ending Disney tried to give off. But the truth is way too dark for Disney’s target audience.