Pocahontas The American tradition of telling exaggerated stories is one that has become simpler as television and movies integrated into American lives. With a television set in almost every household, a story can be told and passed down through generations and can in many ways uphold ideals throughout history. Now we can take a century old story and reimagine it through motion pictures. Although most of America’s early history is limited one of the most famous stories concerning the new world are typically the ones that depict the early relations colonist had with the Native Americans, like Pocahontas.
Through Disney’s animated film Pocahontas viewers are able to witness the story that the colonials and Natives encountered and gaining a biased view of what they encountered. Although the film does have some accurate points the majority of the story is exaggerated in a way that falsely depicts the relationship and composure Pocahontas had with the settlers. This, unfortunately, allows for the story to disregard the truth a misinform their viewers especially the youth. The story of Pocahontas today has developed into another method, to fuel America’s image of itself to it Americans.
Pocahontas is still so relevant because there is so limited information on her true story which makes its easier to build off of whatever stories have already been told. We know for a fact, that she is a real person born from a Powhatan tribe, and helped the settlers of Jamestown adjust to their new lifestyle. Her impact on early U. S. history has put in history books across the nation and yet children know about her before they can even read them. She is now primarily represented as a powerful female figure who fought for peace and justice for both natives and colonials.
Although the original story depicting Pocahontas’ heroism, told by John on himself is one that was recognized for centuries, the way Americans see Pocahontas today is based off of the Disney animated movie Pocahontas. Out of the 1028 films produced by Disney as of today, Pocahontas has maintained its spot at sixty-ninth for the total gross of $141,579,773. The film reemphasized, and reimagined John Smith’s original story, by adding music, a forbidden romance, and a clear enemy. Disney was able to take a story and make it relevant to today’s expectation for a quality story.
Now before kids even learn about Indians in colonial imes they have a preconceived idea of what life was like for the film. They can identify why the colonist wanted the land and several cultural and spiritual aspects the Powhatan Indians had but unfortunately, many of the other facts portrayed by the film are false and over exaggerated. in the 1600s was one that appealed to Europeans by creating the thought of a “good Indian” helping settlers survive. Now because of the changes, Disney made it appeals to children across America, however, those changes have caused controversy.
In fact, a representative from the Powhatan tribe, reated a page to address the primary issue the film brought. In it, Chief Roy Crazy Horse stated that “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” (www. powhatan. org). Throughout the page he addresses the issue with John Smith’s original story, questioning its authenticity, he also brings up the aspect of Pocahontas’s age and romance with Smith in reality as well as her being kidnapped and held captive in Jamestown for over a year.
All spects were completely overlooked by the film and bring a lighthearted approach to a tragic scenario. In another article by Terese Mailhot for Indian Country Today, she expresses express her frustration by addressing the “good Indian” vs “bad Indian” The story told by John Smith complex also addressed by the Powhatan page, she writes “Disney perpetuated the ugly rumor that Pocahontas was a “gentle savage,” who co-signed colonization. . The story alone caused frustration but for Disney to create an even more inaccurate film that has poorly reflected natives has made the Disney’s portrayal of the Indians and ettler conflict may have been wrong but it helped maintain the American image of always being the good guys.
Although the movie takes place before the United States was even a thought, it simplifies the brutal journey it took to create the U. S. A. For example, in the film, Pocahontas states that meeting John Smith was a mistake and wished they had never met while Smith counters her statement by stating that he is proud to have met her and would not have wanted life to be any other way (Pocahontas). This scene suggests that all the issues between the two groups that lead to violence were valid because of love. Giving kids the idea that the struggle Indians face were all in good nature. In reality, Pocahontas was about 11 years old when she met smith but changing it to a love story allowed situation even worse.
Pocahontas to choose a white man over her tribe because of love. The idea, although fictional, shows a positive relationship between Indians and settlers. That the Indians wanted settlers in some way which is why they stayed. The idea of Indians and Settlers coexisting happily together became a general idea too many children because of the little knowledge they had on the topic. Taking the story of Pocahontas, who was already recognized as a noble hero made, was already an example of Indians and settlers working together but once it became a famous Disney film its importance was emphasized.
This allows Americans to show respect to the native tribes by making a film about their culture and briefly acknowledging the settlers flaws in taking the Natives land but also puts the Natives at fault by depicting them as equal as problematic and unwilling to reason as the Chief of the Powhatan tribes assumes the worst out of the settlers. By using the idea that both sides were the real issue elieves some of the blame from the settlers and pushes it towards the Indians as well.
Now instead of making colonization look like a horrific event for Indians, it turns the situation into a simple misunderstanding that was resolved through love and compassion and can broadcast that idea to millions of children who grow up knowing that there was always positive incidences. Growing up knowing that there were positive incidences when dealing with the early settlement is not necessarily a negative, but creating an exaggerated film without truly identifying the wrongs that were done minimizes the mpact it had and is disrespectful for the tribe.
Pocahontas’s story many not have been exactly true but the spiritual and cultural depictions of what typical Indian life was like does bring some educational value. The spiritual connection she felt with her grandmother who was manifested as a willow tree was completely fabricated but the concept of it through Natives was true and through the film, people are able to see the how Native Americans made spiritual connections and why they found a great respect for nature and their surroundings.
It also showed how the tribes social status’ were structured as well as their ood sources. In the film, Women were gatherers, collecting mainly corn while men hunter and leaders. These details may only be a small aspect of the tribe’s culture but because they are there, people are able to take note of the cultural differences that they had compared to her time with those of the white people or even compared to today.
It also shows how alike they both are they are both quick to criticize the other and because of this and can show kids today that when going against each other like they do in the film, it’s due to a general misunderstanding and someone like Pocahontas can alway step p to resolve it. Pocahontas may not be true but it is one of the few positive In conclusion, the stories told today about outlo that Americans can take on the massacre that development created.
In order to take the positive side of the situation, Disney had to ignore some facts that natives ended up finding insulting but at least people of every background are gaining some background on the cultural differences that they had and how it was compromised through the film alone. Although many do find the story insulting, as people get older they do discover the truth about what Americans did and evelop for themselves what was right or wrong the film itself is not the only source of truth for people to gain an understanding of what happened in order to build the colonies.
Although people, especially children do not know all the of the facts, they know she was real and she stands as a strong independent woman, who advocated for peace between Indians and settlers. Now Pocahontas has become even more well known than she first was when she met John Smith and because of this, the Native American Culture stays relevant to all Americans not just to today’s Native Americans.