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'Pocahontas Imagined'

Jamestown Settlement Special Exhibition
July 15, 2017 through January 28, 2018

Pocahontas ImaginedFour hundred years after the 1617 death of Pocahontas in England, her image and legend live on. Using depictions of Pocahontas from across the centuries, Jamestown Settlement presented “Pocahontas Imagined,” a special exhibition that illuminated the reasons behind her enduring legacy as well as her impression on popular culture and art.

The renowned Powhatan Indian who befriended English colonists in Virginia in the early 1600s has been immortalized in art, song and story. Born about 1596, Pocahontas was the daughter of Powhatan, chief of more than 30 tribes in coastal Virginia. Several years after converting to Christianity and marrying Englishman John Rolfe, Pocahontas became ill and died at Gravesend, England, in March 1617.

In “Pocahontas Imagined,” visitors encountered Pocahontas as a real Powhatan Indian girl, who in life became a symbol of successful colonization and who in death has inspired myths and images to promote a range of unrelated causes. Her image has been used to market merchandise, from oranges and cranberries to tobacco and coal.


Pocahontas Brand Oranges packing label, California Fruit Growers Exchange, Los Angeles, California, 1940s. Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation collection.

The special exhibition featured portraits and sculptures inspired by Pocahontas, as well as memorabilia, advertisements and interactive experiences, including opportunities to step into a cutout of an oversized 1907 postage stamp featuring Pocahontas’s image. Visitors were able to see Pocahontas’s likeness and her portrayal in the 20th century through a variety of media.

A special children’s area in the exhibition allowed young visitors to experience Pocahontas’s life as a little girl in a Powhatan Indian village and try art-related activities, such as weaving, decorating clay pots on a chalkboard wall, and learning about hunting and gathering.

Young visitors also received an activity card that they could take outdoors to explore artistic patterns, lines and colors in objects in Jamestown Settlement’s re-created Powhatan Indian village, three 1607 English ships, and colonial fort.

The exhibition was supported in part by a grant from James City County.

About Jamestown Settlement

Jamestown Settlement is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily year-round, except for Christmas and New Year’s days. The living-history museum is located on State Route 31 near the Colonial Parkway in James City County, just southwest of Williamsburg and adjacent to Historic Jamestowne.