Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Powhatan Tribe


The Powhatan are a tribe originally occupying the New Jersey area. They have since spread out across the U.S. During the 17th century they were largely wiped out first by foreign disease, then by war and famine. Yet they try very hard to keep their culture and their language alive today. From reading articles written by their chief, Chief Roy Crazy Horse, they seem to be an extremely proud people, very proud of their heritage and very reluctant to allow it to die out. In 1982 the Powhatan Renape Nation negotiated an agreement with the State of New Jersey to take over 350 acres of state owned land in the town of Westampton. Today the Powhatan take a large role in the community and schools attempting to educate people about their culture.

Interesting the Chief also explains that the famous legend of Pocahontas was part of the Powhatan tribe. However he sees the Disney version of the film as being largely falsified, and doubts that the real life Pocahontas, who's real name was Motoaka, ever really saved the explorer John Smith's life. He claims that John Smith actually reported that when starving he was taken in by the Pohatan people and treated as an honoured guest. The Chief instead believes that John Smith made this story up after her death. She did in fact marry an English man and move to England for a period, but it was not John Smith, it was a man named John Rolfe who forced her to wed him while she was being held captive, in order to gain her freedom. The Powhatan people seem to therefore see the version of this story which has been popularised by Disney, as being offensive to their culture. "It is unfortunate that this sad story, which Euro-Americans should find embarrassing, Disney makes "entertainment" and perpetuates a dishonest and self-serving myth at the expense of the Powhatan Nation." - Chief Roy Crazy Horse.

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