- “You know Pocahontas. She has her mother's spirit. She goes wherever the wind takes her.”
Pocahontas is the protagonist of the 1995 Disney animated feature film of the same name and its 1998 sequel. She is the seventh official Disney Princess and the first one to be based off an actual person.
Pocahontas is a member of the Powhatan Indian tribe that makes their home in Virginia. She is the 18-year old daughter of Chief Powhatan. It is stated that Pocahontas' mother had died and that Pocahontas had inherited her strong will and free spirit. She is the only member of her tribe who is not xenophobic toward the white settlers, instead of forming a relationship with John Smith. By the time of the second film, she is respected enough that she is sent as an ambassador to England on behalf of her people.
Pocahontas' name means "Little Mischief". She is based on the real historical figure and was born into a highly sophisticated Native American culture that knew about Europeans. Her design was modeled after her voice actress, Irene Bedard, who happens to be Native American.
It is important to note that Jean-Jacques Rousseau's notion of the "noble savage" was an important inspiration for this fictionalized story of the important historical persona that is Pocahontas. For as can be seen in other information given below, the story presented in the animated film is not an accurate telling of her life. Rather, it is an examination of the above notion. However, this can be argued against. In her signature song, "Colors of the Wind", Pocahontas sings: "You think I'm an ignorant savage. And you've been so many places, I guess it must be so. But still I cannot see if the savage one is me. How can there be so much that you don't know? You don't know..." As such, even Disney's depiction of Pocahontas can be seen as someone much more complex and nuanced than Rosseau's "noble savage" archetype.
Pocahontas is displayed as a noble, free-spirited and highly spiritual young woman. She expresses wisdom beyond her years and offers kindness and guidance to those around her. She loves her homeland, adventure, and nature. In the film, she appears to have shamanic powers since she was able to commune with nature, talk to spirits, empathize with animals and understand unknown languages.
In the sequel, Pocahontas seems to have grown after hearing of John Smith's assumed death. She keeps her independent spirit and playfulness but is much more mature and self-assured than she was in the first film. When she met John Rolfe, she does not appreciate and sometimes bicker with him at first, but as time goes on, Pocahontas develops romantic feelings for him far greater than those she had with John Smith. During her stay in England, she nearly loses herself in the hustle and bustle of this new world and is turned into someone she's not. But in the end, she bravely intends to sacrifice herself for her people's safety and returns to her homeland, finding herself, and romantic love, once again.
She believes that her mother's spirit surrounds her.
Pocahontas is a young woman with tan skin, long raven-black hair, and twinkling, dark brown eyes. She has a tall, slender, statuesque figure with broad shoulders and narrow hips and goes around barefoot in the first film, whereas in the second film, she wears flat moccasins. She normally wears her iconic turquoise necklace which belonged to her mother. The necklace is removed twice in the two films. The first occasion occurs when a fatally wounded Kocoum grabs at the necklace as he falls, shattering it. In the second film, Pocahontas herself removes her necklace and replaces it with a gold chain, stating "It doesn't belong here". The animation of Pocahontas is also different from other Disney Princesses.
- Pocahontas loves nature, and she spends her time exploring the land. After she falls in love with a man named John Smith, it's up to her to discover her destiny and bring peace to her people.
- Pocahontas respects the spirits of the earth. She listens to her heart and knows the right path may not always be the easiest.
Pocahontas is first seen atop a waterfall, when she is summoned by her best friend Nakoma that her beloved father has returned. It is revealed that Pocahontas has been having a unusual dream, and she does not understand what it means. Nakoma counsels Pocahontas to speak with her father, Chief Powhatan, who has recently returned from war. At the village, Pocahontas meets with her father, and learns that Kocoum, one of her father's finest and fiercest warriors, has asked to marry her. As a gift, Powhatan gives Pocahontas her late mother's necklace, which her mother had worn at their wedding. Pocahontas doesn't feel that this is the right path for her, but Powhatan feels that Kocoum would be a fine husband for Pocahontas, as Kocoum is steady and serious, as well as brave, loyal, strong and protective.
After hearing this, Pocahontas travels to Grandmother Willow in order to gain some advice. After telling Grandmother Willow about her dream and her father's plans for her arranged marriage, Grandmother Willow tells Pocahontas that her dream is pointing her down her path. When Pocahontas asks how to find her path, Grandmother Willow teaches Pocahontas to listen to the spirits of the earth, by listening with her heart. Pocahontas does so, and after hearing the wind tell her about the arrival of "strange clouds", is able to spot the ship carrying the Europeans. To her, the ship's sails resemble clouds.
Pocahontas later encounters one of the settlers, John Smith. Over time, the two get to know each other, asking all sorts of questions about each other's people, lives, and different worlds. However, the conversation goes sour when John Smith unintentionally reveals his prejudices toward Native Americans. Pocahontas explains to him the beauty and importance of nature and respecting the earth through the song "Colors of the Wind". This causes John to see the ill of his thoughts and change his ways, and the two begin to strongly fall romantically in love with each other. However, after hearing drums, Pocahontas is forced to return to the village.
Later, while picking corn with Nakoma, Pocahontas meets John Smith again. After swearing Nakoma to secrecy, Pocahontas takes John Smith out to the woods. Pocahontas takes John to meet Grandmother Willow. When John reveals that the settlers had come looking for gold, Pocahontas reveals that there is none in the area. When other settlers come into the area looking for Smith, Smith is forced to leave, but the two agree to meet that night at Grandmother Willow's glade. After Smith leaves, Pocahontas worries about her actions. Grandmother Willow reminds Pocahontas of her dream, and Pocahontas begins to suspect that her dream is pointing her toward John.
Upon returning to the village, Pocahontas discovers that warriors from neighboring villages have arrived and are planning to fight the settlers. That night, despite Nakoma's protests, Pocahontas sneaks off to meet John. Both reveal that their respective people are planning for war. Pocahontas asks John to come to her village and speak with her father, Chief Powhatan, in an attempt to avoid fighting. John is reluctant at first, but agrees after some advice from Grandmother Willow. When Kocoum, who had been warned about Pocahontas by Nakoma, suddenly stumbles upon Pocahontas and John Smith kissing, Kocoum becomes enraged and attacks him. Before Pocahontas can break them up, Thomas, who had been sent to find John, shoots and kills Kocoum to protect John. Enraged, Pocahontas charges at Thomas, but John Smith stops her, saying it won't help. John Smith takes the blame, is taken prisoner by the Powhatan men who were alerted by the gunshot from Thomas' gun, and sentenced to die at sunrise. When Kocoum's lifeless corpse was carried back to the village, Powhatan scolds Pocahontas for disobeying his orders not to leave the village, shaming her own father and her foolishness leading to Kocoum being killed. As John Smith is taken away, Nakoma approaches her and Pocahontas tells her that Kocoum was only trying to protect herself and she apologizes to her for her actions and she was worried, that she was trying to do the right thing. Nakoma brings Pocahontas to the tent where John Smith is held, she tells the two warriors guarding the tent that Pocahontas wants to see the eyes of the man who killed Kocoum and they agreed, telling Pocahontas to be quick and let her in. She apologizes to John Smith before leaving, while Smith vows to "be with her forever."
After Meeko gives her Smith's compass, which she recognizes as the spinning arrow from her dream, Pocahontas realizes that she must stop the execution that will lead to war between the Native Americans and the settlers. She runs to where it will take place, calling out to the forces of nature to help her reach them in time. Pocahontas reaches John Smith just in time to throw herself over him and save him from being killed by Chief Powhatan, who was going to be John's executioner and murderer, but then comes to his senses and releases John Smith. When the enraged Governor Ratcliffe rejects the offer of peace the Chief offers by sparing and releasing John, he shoots at the chief, only for John Smith to push Powhatan out of the way and take the bullet himself. Soon after, a wounded John Smith asks her to come with him to England, but she explains that her place is in Virginia, with her people. To comfort him, she tells him that "no matter what happens, I'll always be with you, forever." They passionately kiss, and the men carry him onto the ship. As it is leaving, Pocahontas runs as fast as she can to a cliff overlooking the ocean. John waves goodbye in the Powhatan fashion, and Pocahontas waves back in the Powhatan fashion, like she showed to him earlier when the two first met, as the ship sails away.
Several years after the original film, Pocahontas has been mourning John Smith's apparent death in England. She eventually decides to move on and buries Smith's compass (which he gave to her before going back to England) in the snow. Unknown to her, Smith's death is part of a plot by Governor Ratcliffe to manipulate England into a war with the Indians.
Later on, she has a run-in with an English diplomat named John Rolfe, who has recently sailed to Virginia. The two do not get along at first, with Pocahontas disliking Rolfe's interference in a near-skirmish between the Powhatan and the English, while Rolfe dislikes Pocahontas for rebuking him for said interference. Rolfe later overhears of Pocahontas's role in stopping a war, and mistakenly assumes Pocahontas to be the Chief, rather than the young woman he just met.
Later that night, Rolfe appears at Pocahontas's village with a gift for Pocahontas, but is astonished when he learns Pocahontas's identity. Rolfe reveals that Chief Powhatan must come to England to meet with King James; otherwise, he will allow England to go to war with the Indians. When Powhatan refuses to go, Pocahontas volunteers instead.
She visits Grandmother Willow the next day, asking for advice for the journey, and is told to "listen to the spirit within." Later, Pocahontas leaves with Rolfe for England and is nearly arrested for "harboring stowaways" before Rolfe comes to her aid. The two come to a truce.
Upon arriving in England, Pocahontas is astounded by this "new world". But at the height of her fun, Ratcliffe appears and grins evilly when he finds out Pocahontas is the ambassador instead of the Chief. He hands Rolfe a proclamation that King James has signed that says an armada is going to set sail to destroy the Powhatan tribe. Rolfe and Pocahontas set out for Rolfe's townhouse outside of London, where Mrs. Jenkins happily greets them and puts on tea. Rolfe goes off to meet with King James alone. The King, tricked by Ratcliffe, invites Pocahontas and Rolfe to The Hunt Ball. If Pocahontas can impress the King and Queen, her people will be saved. If she is deemed "uncivilized", however, then the armada will sail.
Rolfe and Mrs. Jenkins teach Pocahontas how to fit into English society, dressing her as an Englishwoman and teaching her how to dance. At first, Pocahontas impresses the King and Queen, but during dinner, she is horrified by a bear-baiting spectacle. Unknown to her, Ratcliffe had arranged it knowing Pocahontas would not approve. She angers King James by calling him and his people barbarians, and as a result, she and her escort assigned by her father are arrested and scheduled to be executed.
Later on, Rolfe and a disguised John Smith break Pocahontas and Uttamatomakkin out of the Tower of London and escape into the woods to avoid James' troops. She is shocked when Smith reveals himself and says that the rumors of his death were "greatly exaggerated." They take Pocahontas and her friends to a cabin in the forest. Smith explains that he had gone into hiding to avoid a treason conviction. While Smith wants to resume his relationship with Pocahontas, Pocahontas is more concerned about the armada scheduled to sail to Virginia to attack her people. Rolfe and Smith begin to argue over a course of action. Smith believes Pocahontas should stay in hiding to avoid being hanged or decapitated, while Rolfe believes she should follow her heart. Pocahontas runs off, upset at the arguing between Smith and Rolfe, while Smith realizes that John Rolfe is in love with Pocahontas. How Smith feels about this seems rather vague. After spending some time at the edge of a river, remembering what Nakoma said back in Jamestown, and reuniting with Meeko, Flit, and Percy, she soon returns, ready to face King James herself and face the consequences, whatever they may be, earning both Smith and Rolfe's respect for her bravery.
The next day, Pocahontas prepares to face King James, willing to sacrifice herself to save her people. While she convinces the Queen, the King does not believe her until John Smith shows up. Upon seeing that Smith is alive and well, the King realizes that Ratcliffe has lied about everything. Pocahontas says they need to stop the armada, but Queen Anne reveals that they have already left. Pocahontas counters that they must at least try, and it turns out that the armada had not actually set sailed just yet. Pocahontas, John Smith, and John Rolfe are able to stop them, and Ratcliffe is arrested by King James when he returns to shore, facing severe punishment for his crimes. Smith is given a ship of his own and a royal pardon, while Rolfe is offered an advisory position to the king.
During the celebratory ball, Pocahontas plans to return home on the next ship, and is trying to work up the courage to ask John Rolfe (whom she has fallen in love with) to come with her. John Smith wants her to travel the world by his side, but Pocahontas explains to him that they now have different paths to follow. Smith understands and wishes her the very best, and she wishes him the same. After Smith leaves, she goes in search of Rolfe but is unable to find him before the ship sets sail. She is forced to board the ship without him and casts her face downward in sadness until Rolfe reveals himself from the shadows. They rejoice as Rolfe reveals that he turned down the King's position to be with her. They kiss as the ship sails off into the sunset to return to Virginia.
She makes cameo appearances in numerous episodes.
In "Suddenly Hades", Pocahontas was seen with her hair blowing in the air-conditioned wind.
In "House of Turkey", she was seen walking into the club with John Smith and the colors of the wind.
Cameos and other appearances
Pocahontas made a non-speaking silhouette cameo in the theater at the end of The Lion King 1½.
Pocahontas was also set to appear in the canceled animated short Princess Academy. In one piece of concept art, she could be seen alongside Tiger Lily, throwing leaves in the same manner as one would throw confetti.
Pocahontas appears at the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts for meet-and-greets on a recurring basis. She is the most common Pocahontas character, next to Meeko. She is dressed in her buckskin dress from both films; instead of her feet being bare, however, she wears matching shoes to protect her feet. (though she does say that back at the village she takes them off and moves around barefoot)
She is most prominently featured in the Disney's Hollywood Studios incarnation of the show.
She and John Smith appeared in the Disney Cruise Line stage show The Golden Mickeys. She's also known to come out for meet-and-greets on the ships. Pocahontas is also a "magic maker" in the show Believe.
Pocahontas, Meeko and Flit make cameo appearances in the Hong Kong Disneyland version of It's a Small World.
Pocahontas has been a key character in this park since its 1998 opening.
She also had her own show entitled Pocahontas and her Forest Friends, which ran from 1998 to 2008. In this show, Pocahontas and Grandmother Willow taught park guests about the forest life and how to protect them, with assistance from a new young tree character named Sprig and multiple live animals.
Pocahontas serves as the guests' guide in Frontierland and Liberty Square. Ratcliffe is freed from prison by Hades (in the guise of Lord Indigo of the East Underworld Trading Company) and makes a deal to gain control over Frontierland in exchange for the crystal of the Magic Kingdom. Ratcliffe agrees, but soon enough, Ratcliffe begins to panic as the crystal is nowhere in sight, but being that Pocahontas knows the land, he kidnaps Meeko in an attempt to force her into helping him find it. Fortunately, the guests defeat Ratcliffe with magic, making him fall off of his ship.
Pocahontas also has her own spell card known as "Pocahontas' Colors of the Wind".
In 2012, Disney released images portraying the various official princesses in glamorized, sparkling, and glittering formal princess wear, which has become known as a redesign. Pocahontas received multiple changes in her late 2012 redesign. Feathered earrings with leather cords and turquoise beads at the end frame her face and her dress is now beige and more elaborate with the addition of feathers and turquoise stones. Her late mother's necklace is painted gold and studded with turquoise stones instead of being a solid blue, while the pendant at the end is a blue stone instead of silver. Notably, the traditionally barefoot princess now wears knee-high soft suede boots.
In 2015, the Disney Princess merchandise got a new style for their products. Along with the new style, Pocahontas received some new colors to her redesign.
Pocahontas' Palace Pets are Windflower, Pounce, and River.
Differences from the source material
Though Pocahontas is the only Disney Princess (and protagonist in general) to be based on a historical figure, she is only very loosely based on her. Disney has seemed to use the real Pocahontas only as loose inspiration rather than an homage to her life with the main parts only kept the same were the names used, ethnicity and geographic location. Disney has made a new fairy tale heroine from her all-their-own.
- The given name of Pocahontas was Matoaka in real life, which means "Bright Stream Between the Hills", while Pocahontas was her nickname. The name Matoaka was never mentioned in the first movie.
- According to history, Pocahontas changed her name to Rebecca when she converted to Christianity. Two years prior to her journey to England, she married John Rolfe at a church in Virginia. In Pocahontas II, they never married.
- Historically, Pocahontas and John Rolfe had a son named Thomas. In Pocahontas II, they did not have a child.
- The real Pocahontas married Kocoum in 1610 and moved to northern Virginia, but Englishmen captured her three years later. Samuel Argall was their leader. Her tribe stole weapons and agricultural tools from the colonists. In addition, her father kept some English prisoners. After the English prisoners were set free, she remained hostage under Sir Thomas Dale in the settlement of Henricus afterward.
- When the real Pocahontas was given a chance to return to her people, she refused, as she believed the English valued her more.
- The real Pocahontas was a child about 10 to 13 years old when she first met John Smith after rescuing him and they were simply associates and would meet again in England. She was married to John Rolfe when Captain Smith met her again. Like in Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World, she did find out about him being alive. Pocahontas previously heard a rumor about Smith's death when she was in Virginia, but was angry with him for betraying their kin relationship that her father established with him years earlier.
- Pocahontas and her bodyguard, Uttamatomakkin were never imprisoned at the Tower of London during her visit in England like in Pocahontas II. In real life, she visited George Percy's brother, Henry Percy, the Ninth Earl of Northumberland in the Tower of London and he mended her earrings for her.
- Even though many European settlers commonly describe Pocahontas as an "Indian Princess", most Native American tribes never had royalty, and most chieftains were elected (like the President of the United States, for example) rather than inherited. When her father perished in real life, Pocahontas would have never inherited his role regardless. It was her uncle, Opechancanough, who became the paramount chief after the death of Powhatan.
- Pocahontas is depicted as an eighteen year old in the movie, but at the time of the actual Jamestown in 1607/1608, she was actually only around 12 or 13 (as she was born sometime in 1595).
- Pocahontas is the only Disney protagonist to be based on an actual historical figure instead of the traditional fairy tale or folktale.
- Irene Bedard, who voiced the character, later portrayed her mother in New Line Cinema's 2005 film The New World.
- Pre-production of Pocahontas in a Disney magazine promoting the movie showed there was a title card that featured an early version of the Disney heroine who looked a lot like Tiger Lily from Peter Pan. It showed her head held up high, eyes closed, arms folded and surrounded by a few forest animals. Therefore, it seemed it's actually this same Tiger Lily and not just someone who resembled her, but under a different name.
- She appears to be among the least popular princesses in the official line-up, as well as barely ever marketed with any merchandise and/or media (there were several Mattel dolls of her during the late 1990's, most of her dolls from 2000 onward have been Disney Store exclusives) and most of her appearances are often restricted to the back of the line in group shots. She and Mulan appear less frequently than the other Princesses.
- Despite the events depicted in Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World, John Smith is still the official love interest of Pocahontas, since most media, including the Disney Princess franchise, keep Smith and her as an official couple, completely ignoring John Rolfe.
- In real life, Pocahontas did marry Kocoum. It occurred a year after Captain Smith returned to England due to his injury from gunpowder. However, she did not stay with him, and eventually married John Rolfe instead.
- Pocahontas shows up in early concept art of Disney INFINITY; thus, it can be inferred that she was considered to be in the game at one point.
- Pocahontas is the only Disney Princess who did not appear in the Sofia the First series nor the live-action series Once Upon a Time. The reason why she did not appear on the former was because the creators of the show found it very hard to do a story with her that worked. Her absence on the latter series could be due to her being based on a real person.
- She is one of the first Disney Princesses to have had no children in Descendants.
- She's currently the only Disney Princess to have more than one love interest—in her case, she has two: John Smith (from the first film) and John Rolfe (from the sequel).
- She is the only Disney Princess to have a tattoo; which is the symbol on her right arm.