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REPATRIATE the BODY of POCAHONTAS back to her HOME: VIRGINIA

Many years ago I discovered that the body of Pocahontas were still being interred in Great Britain and never returned home.  She is only a flight away from her homeland.  This is ONLY MY VIEWS!  (I am willing to back down if the Native Americans say that this would be inappropriate.)  Here is a short explanation:

Pocahontas, however, was no myth (Mills, 1995). The daughter of Tidewater Virginia’s legendary chief Powhatan, Pocahontas (c. 1595-1617) was lured aboard a British ship in the Jamestown area and held captive for more than a year (see Roundtree, 1990). She was dressed in the English fashion and took religious instruction, becoming baptized as a Christian. In 1615, Pocahontas married British colonist, John Rolfe. In 1616, as part of a plan to revive support for the Virginia colony, the couple traveled to England with their infant son. There, Pocahontas met King James I and Queen Anne. Just as she and Rolfe were setting-sail back to America the following March, Pocahontas died, perhaps because of smallpox, perhaps because of the foul English weather. She was buried in an English churchyard a few miles from London on the Thames River, far from her tribal homeland of the Mattaponi people (Sharpes, 1995).

I tried to see if their was any Internet articles on the repatriation of Pocahontas to her homeland.  While I do not believe in the Native American religion, I do respect the right of her people to have her back home again if they choose.  It bothers me that this has not been done before.  Perhaps Governor McDonnell could speak to the Secretary of State and help negotiate this return back from England.  Many are related to Powhatan’s daughter today.  (I am not but perhaps our Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling is!)

There is apparently an issue of which bones, if any survive, in the church cemetery in England:

A few years ago, Las Vegas entertainer Wayne Newton led a small movement to exhume Pocahontas’ body from England, and bring it back to America, to be returned to her ancestral tribal lands for a proper Indian burial, because he is her descendant. There are some problems with that.

  1. Pocahontas died a Christian Englishwoman, Lady Rebecca Rolfe, and so received the burial she wanted. Before colonization, the Powhatan Indians did not bury their dead, per se. Their modern descendants are mainly Baptist. Pocahontas (as Rebecca) was Anglican. She was baptised as an adult believer, but by Anglican rite, not by full immersion.
  2. Pocahontas’ remains are no longer intact or identifiable. She was buried in a place of honor under the church floor, but when the church burned down and was rebuilt, all the bones that were under the floor were gathered together, and reburied in a single large grave, in the church cemetery. This grave contains a jumble of bones from many different people. An earlier effort failed to identify which skull was that of Pocahontas.

I would think that a respectful effort to use DNA could solve that issue.  There is another version that is more favorable to repatriation:

Mary Pugh, of St. George’s church, told the history of St. George’s and Pocahontas. Pocahontas on a trip to England with her husband John Rolfe, became ill and after she boarded a ship to return to her native land her condition grew worse and she was brought back to Gravesend, died and was buried in the chancel of the parish church, the place reserved for clergy and notable parishioners. Her remains have not been disturbed and are buried in the chancel of the church to this day. In 1896, the memorial tablet to Pocahontas was put in the chancel of St. George’s Church, the memorial windows were presented by the Colonial Dames of America in 1914. (emphasis mine)

Time to find out!  I would be glad to back down on this issue if the Native Americans ask me to.  But until they do, I say:  If feasible, repatriate the remains of Pocahontas to her homeland:  Virginia.


About Elwood Sanders

Elwood "Sandy" Sanders is a Hanover attorney who is an Appellate Procedure Consultant for Lantagne Legal Printing and has written seven scholarly legal articles and was an adjunct at T. C. Williams School of Law. (None of these titles imply any endorsement of Sanders’ views)

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