By Steven G. Mehta

The American Indian culture is steeped in long traditions of collaboration.  Indeed, Pocohantas was probably one of the first mediators on American soil.  According to History.com, Pocahontas’s contributions to Jamestown date from her early acquaintance with Capt. John Smith after his capture by Powhatan‘s men in 1607. Her legendary rescue of the English captain on the verge of his execution was probably part of a traditional Indian adoption ceremony (misinterpreted or misunderstood by Smith), though it is possible that without her intercession he would have been killed. In any event, relations between Powhatan and the fledgling colony improved, and Pocahontas, then about twelve years old, became a frequent visitor at Jamestown and an important supplier of food for the colonists.

It is interesting to note that there is a fair bit of research suggesting that Pocohantas was also a cultural mediator between the two cultures.  Indeed, after her death, the peace between the colonists and the Indians was destroyed.   According to Clara Kidwell, author of Indian Women as Cultural Mediators, in every major interaction between European settlers and Indians, Indian women were paving the way through their mediation efforts.

According to Dorothy Mays, author of the book, Women in Early America:Struggle Survival and Freedom in the New World, “Although twenty two at the time of her death, Pocohantas has been credited with proving that peaceful Anglo-Indian relations were possible.”

In some respect, Pocohantas’ efforts are what allowed this country to thrive in the early days.  Without her successful mediation this country may never have been created.

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