- “You know Pocahontas. She has her mother's spirit. She goes wherever the wind takes her.”
Pocahontas is the titular protagonist of Disney's 1995 animated feature film of the same name. She is the daughter of Chief Powhatan, the leader of a Native American tribe in Virginia. With a willfully bold spirit, she formed a forbidden friendship with an English settler named John Smith, with whom she would fall in love. Unfortunately, a difference in values sparks a war between the natives and settlers, endangering her home. Inspired by her love for Smith, she is driven to bring peace and unity to the two worlds before a battle can unfold.
Pocahontas is the seventh official Disney Princess and the first one to be based on an actual person.
Pocahontas' mother had died and she 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 forming a romantic 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 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' 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 herself.
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", she 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.
Pocahontas believes that her mother's spirit surrounds her where she enjoys fleeing a breeze as if she feels her deceased mother's presence. Pocahontas also shows a very playful side where she tips her best friend, Nakoma off her boat and proceeds to splash her with water.
When English settlers came to her homeland, Pocahontas was curiously drawn to them and unlike her people, she was able to see that the settlers were not dangerous as John Smith treated her raccoon friend, Meeko with kindness. Her curiosity also drew her to Smith, allowing her to bond with over their different customs where the two eventually started a romantic relationship.
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 meets John Rolfe, she does not appreciate and sometimes bickers with him at first, but as time goes on, she develops romantic feelings for him. 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.
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 sequel, she wears flat moccasins. Unlike the other "modern" Disney Princesses of the period, such as Ariel, Belle, and Jasmine, as well as the others created after the Disney Renaissance such as Rapunzel, Anna, Elsa, and Moana, Pocahontas is drawn with her eyes and face less rounded and more angular and refined, as well as drawn with a head more similar to an adult's in proportion to her body similar to that of the first three original Disney Princesses, such as Snow White, Cinderella, and Aurora, giving her an appearance of maturity which Pocahontas represented.
She normally wears her iconic turquoise necklace which belonged to her mother. It is removed twice in the two films. The first occasion occurs when a fatally wounded Kocoum grabs at it as he falls, shattering it. In the sequel, she herself removes it and replaces it with a gold chain, stating, "It doesn't belong here."
The animation of her is also different from other Disney Princesses; owing to the flatter, angular, and more geometric art style of her debut film similar to those of Sleeping Beauty and One Hundred and One Dalmatians .
Pocahontas is first seen atop a waterfall when she is summoned by her best friend, Nakoma, that her beloved father, Chief Powhatan, has returned. It is revealed that she has been having an unusual dream, and she does not understand what it means. Nakoma asks if she's figured it out and, when Pocahontas answers in the negative, she counsels her to speak with Powhatan, who has recently returned from war. At the village, she meets with him and learns that Kocoum, one of his finest and fiercest warriors, has asked to marry her. As a gift, he gives her her late mother's necklace, which her mother had worn at their wedding. She doesn't feel that this is the right path for her, but Powhatan feels that Kocoum would be a fine husband for her, as he 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 Powhatan's plans for her arranged marriage to Kocoum, Grandmother Willow tells her that her dream is pointing her down her path. When she asks how to find her path, Grandmother Willow teaches her to listen to the spirits of the Earth, by listening with her heart. She 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, its sails resemble clouds.
Pocahontas later encounters one of the settlers, John Smith. At first, she can't understand him, but somehow, after possibly listening with her heart, she was able to. Over time, they 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 he unintentionally reveals his prejudices toward Native Americans. She explains the beauty and importance of nature and respecting the Earth through the song "Colors of the Wind". This causes him to see the ill of his thoughts and change his ways, and they begin to strongly fall romantically in love with each other. However, after hearing drums, she is forced to return to the village.
Later, while picking corn with Nakoma, Pocahontas meets Smith again. After swearing Nakoma to secrecy, she takes him out to the woods to meet Grandmother Willow. When he reveals that the settlers had come looking for gold, Pocahontas reveals that there is none in the area. When other settlers come looking for him, he is forced to leave, but he and Pocahontas agree to meet that night at Grandmother Willow's glade. After he leaves, she worries about her actions. Grandmother Willow reminds her of her dream, and she begins to suspect that it is pointing her toward Smith.
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 Smith. They reveal that their respective people are planning for war. She asks him to come to her village and speak with Powhatan in an attempt to avoid fighting. He 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 her and Smith kissing, he becomes enraged and attacks him. Before she can break them up, Thomas, who had been sent to find John, shoots and kills Kocoum to protect him. As Kocoum falls, he grabs hold of Pocahontas' necklace and it shatters into pieces. Enraged, she charges at Thomas, but Smith stops her, saying it won't help. He takes the blame, is taken prisoner by the Powhatan men who were alerted by the shot from Thomas' gun, and sentenced to die at sunrise. When Kocoum's corpse is carried back to the village, Powhatan scolds Pocahontas for disobeying his orders not to leave it, shaming him and her foolishness leading to Kocoum being killed. As John is taken away, Nakoma approaches her, and she tells her that Kocoum was only trying to protect himself. Nakoma apologizes to her for her actions, and she was worried, that she was trying to do the right thing by admitting that she sent Kocoum after her. She brings Pocahontas to the tent where Smith is held, she tells the two warriors guarding it that Pocahontas wants to see the eyes of Smith, and they agree, telling her to be quick and let her in. She apologizes to Smith before leaving, while he vows to "be with her forever".
After Meeko gives Pocahontas Smith's compass, which she recognizes as the spinning arrow from her dream, she 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. She reaches Smith just in time to throw herself over him and save him from being killed by Powhatan, who was going to be his executioner and murderer, and also tells off everyone on how they had been led by the path of hatred. She tells her father that this is the path she chooses and what would his be if they choose to fight. Touched by Pocahontas' love and wisdom, Powhatan then comes to his senses, puts a ceasefire on their fight and releases John.
When the enraged Governor Ratcliffe rejects the offer of peace Powhatan offers by sparing and releasing Smith, he shoots at him, only for Smith to push him out of the way and take the bullet himself. Soon after, a wounded John asks Pocahontas 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, she runs as fast as she can to a cliff overlooking the ocean. Smith waves goodbye in the Powhatan fashion, and she does so the same way, as she showed to him earlier when they first met, as the ship sails away.
Several years after the original film, Pocahontas has been mourning Smith's apparent death in England. She eventually decides to move on and buries his compass (which he gave her before going back to England) in the snow. Unknown to her, his death is part of a plot by Ratcliffe to manipulate England into a war with the Indians.
Later on, Pocahontas has a run-in with an English diplomat named John Rolfe, who has recently sailed to Virginia. They do not get along at first, with her disliking his interference in a near-skirmish between the Powhatan and the English, while he dislikes her for rebuking him for said interference. He later overhears of her role in stopping war and mistakenly assumes her to be the Chief rather than the young woman he just met.
Later that night, Rolfe appears at Pocahontas' village with a gift for her but is astonished when he learns her identity. He reveals that 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.
Pocahontas visits Grandmother Willow the next day, asking for advice for the journey, and is told to "listen to the spirit within." Later, she leaves with Rolfe for England and is nearly arrested for "harboring stowaways" before he comes to her aid. They 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 she is the ambassador instead of her father Powhatan. 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 his townhouse outside of London, where Mrs. Jenkins happily greets them and puts on tea. Rolfe goes off to meet with King James alone. King James, tricked by Ratcliffe, invites Pocahontas and Rolfe to The Hunt Ball. If Pocahontas can impress King James and Queen Anne, 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, she impresses King James and Queen Anne, but during dinner, she is horrified by a bear-baiting spectacle. Unknown to her, Ratcliffe had arranged it knowing she would not approve. When she disrupts the bear-baiting and comes to the bear's defense, she angers King James by calling him and his people barbarians, and as a result, she and her bodyguard, Uttamatomakkin, assigned by Powhatan, are arrested and scheduled to be executed.
Later on, Rolfe and a disguised Smith break Pocahontas and Uttamatomakkin out of the Tower of London and escape into the woods to avoid King James' troops. She is shocked when Smith reveals himself and says that the rumors of his death were "greatly exaggerated." They take her and her friends to a cabin in the forest. Smith explains that he had gone into hiding to avoid a treason conviction. While he wants to resume his relationship with Pocahontas, she 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. She runs off, upset at the arguing between them, while Smith realizes that Rolfe is in love with her. How Smith feels about this seems rather vague. After spending some time at the edge of a river, remembering what Nakoma said back in Virginia, 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 Queen Anne, King James does not believe her until Smith shows up. Upon seeing that he is alive and well, King James 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 sail just yet. She, Smith, and 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 King James.
During the celebratory ball, Pocahontas plans to return home on the next ship and is trying to work up the courage to ask Rolfe (whom she has fallen in love with) to come with her. Smith plans to travel the world and wants her to come with him, but she explains that she feels that they've grown too far apart while assuring him that she does (and will always) still care about him as a friend. After thinking it over, he understands what she's getting at and accepts her decision, wishing her happiness for the future, and she wishes him the same. After he leaves, she goes in search of Rolfe, but as she'll be leaving soon to sail back to Virginia, she's ultimately forced to board the ship by herself. When she becomes saddened that she'll probably never see Rolfe again, he emerges from the shadows, and they embrace. When she asks him, "What about your duty to the King," he responds by saying, "I have a duty to honor what's in my heart." They share a kiss as the ship sails off into the sunset to return to Virginia.
Pocahontas makes cameo appearances in numerous episodes.
In "House of Turkey", Pocahontas was seen walking into the club with John Smith and the colors of the wind.
In Ralph Breaks the Internet, Pocahontas appears as a netizen in Oh My Disney, where she and the other Disney princesses work as cast members partaking in meet-and-greets with net users. As a nod to her animation in her debut film, her hair is in constant motion, even when indoors. Leaves occasionally circulate around her as well. During their break, Vanellope von Schweetz infiltrates their backstage room; Pocahontas is seen having her hair tended to by Cinderella when Vanellope arrives. Like the other princesses, she believes Vanellope to be a threat and charges at her with Chief Powhatan's club. Vanellope hastily declares that she's a princess as well, and though this is able to ease the princesses a bit, she is still suspicious. She questions what kind of princess Vanellope is, but the latter doesn't have a clear answer. When Cinderella asks if animals talk to Vanellope, Pocahontas is seen snuggling with Meeko on her shoulder. When Jasmine asks if Vanellope has "daddy issues", she notes that she doesn't have a mother, to which Pocahontas relates.
After declaring Vanellope a true princess, Cinderella becomes inspired by Vanellope's casual modern outfit. She has her mice sew together comfy modern clothes for each of the princesses to match Vanellope. Pocahontas dons an indigo shirt that features a graphic of a wolf howling in front of a blue moon that reads "BLUE CORN MOON" underneath (a nod to "Colors of the Wind"), yellow pants with tan patterns to represent her tribe and light brown flats, and seen lounging on the couch while snuggling Meeko. Ariel dreamily expresses her love for the new outfit through song (a parody of "Part of Your World"), but Vanellope cuts her off in confusion. Tiana explains that when a princess wants to express her dreams, she sings a song. Vanellope has never had such an experience, and Pocahontas advises her to find some water and stare at it. The other princesses agree, referring to their respective musical numbers that took place near a body of water. Later, Vanellope takes Pocahontas' advice and sings to a puddle, leading to the song "A Place Called Slaughter Race".
During the climax, Pocahontas and the other princesses set off to rescue Wreck-It Ralph from falling to his doom. After some of the princesses use their gowns as parachutes to catch him, Ariel signals for Pocahontas to summon the wind to gently guide him to safety. Once he regains his consciousness, Pocahontas and the others befriend him.
Pocahontas made a non-speaking silhouette cameo in the movie theater at the end of The Lion King 1½.
In the series finale of At Home With Olaf, a short clip of the first film featuring Pocahontas appears during a montage of heartwarming moments from Disney films playing in Olaf's song "I Am with You".
Pocahontas appears in the game as a playable character being another of the Disney princesses to be playable, instead of using a weapon she uses the colors of the wind as a weapon to push enemies, and can even summon Meeko to steal energy enemies.
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).
In Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom, Pocahontas serves as the guests' guide in Frontierland and Liberty Square. She explains that it happened again that her dreams foretold people coming and destroying their land. 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, he begins to panic as the crystal is nowhere in sight, but being that Pocahontas knows the land, he kidnaps Meeko in an attempt and holds him hostage to force her into helping him find it. Fortunately, the guests defeat him with magic, making him fall off of his ship.
Pocahontas also has her own spell card known as "Pocahontas' Colors of the Wind".
In Disney's Animal Kingdom, Pocahontas had her own show entitled Pocahontas and her Forest Friends, which ran from 1998 to 2008. In it, she 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.
Since March 10, 2021, Pocahontas has been meetable in The Royal Reception Hall as part of Hong Kong Disneyland's 15th anniversary celebration. She was an events-only meet-and-greet character in 2010, and from 2017 to 2019.
Pocahontas, Meeko, and Flit appear in "It's a Small World" in the Americas room in the North America section.
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 bluestone 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 for her redesign.
Pocahontas' Palace Pets are Windflower, Pounce, River, and Brook.
Differences from history
Though Pocahontas is the only Disney Princess 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. In doing so, Disney effectively turned the historic Pocahontas into their own original character while writing an alternative account of history and historic-figures.
- 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 film.
- 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 Smith met her again. Like in Pocahontas II, she did find out about him being alive. She previously heard a rumor about his death when she was in Virginia but was angry with him for betraying their kin relationship that Chief Powhatan established with him years earlier.
- The real Pocahontas married Kocoum in 1610 and moved to northern Virginia, but she was captured by colonists three years later. Samuel Argall was their leader. Her tribe stole weapons and agricultural tools from the colonists. In addition, Chief Powhatan kept some colonists as prisoners. After the prisoners were set free, she remained hostage under Sir Thomas Dale in the settlement of Henricus, Virginia.
- Pocahontas did not choose to go to Europe. Instead, she was kidnapped by the British and unwillingly brought to England where she was enslaved and sold to a Cigar factory. She was forced to work against her will in this cigar factory for many years.
- In real-life history, John Rolfe was an incredibly abusive, racist and amoral husband. Rather than meeting her in the Americas, he bought her from a cigar-factory where she was enslaved and forced her to be his wife; often physically attacking her. Rolfe forced Pocahontas to change her name to Rebecca (a Christian name) and forced her to convert to Christianity. He also used Pocahontas as a sort of attraction made to promote his racist ideals, referring to her as, "The Dignified Savage".
- 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.
- When the real Pocahontas was given a chance to return to her people, she refused, as she believed the English valued her more.
- Pocahontas and Uttamatomakkin were never imprisoned at the Tower of London during her visit to England like in Pocahontas II. In real life, she visited George Percy's brother, Henry, the Ninth Earl of Northumberland in the Tower of London, and he mended her earrings for her.
- Pocahontas is the first Disney protagonist to be of Native American descent (Powhatan, in Pocahontas' case), with the second being Kuzco, the third being Lilo, and the fourth being Kenai.
- 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 Chief Powhatan perished in real life, Pocahontas would have never inherited his role regardless. It was her uncle, Opechancanough, who became the paramount chief after Powhatan's death.
- Pocahontas is also the first Disney Princess to be considered a princess by reputation, despite being the daughter of a chief.
- Pocahontas is one of the few Disney protagonists to be based on a genuine historical figure rather than a traditional fairy tale or folktale. Mulan is also amongst this group, albeit she comes from a less reliably documented setting in history while Matoaka was well documented.
- Despite being both the daughters of a chief, unlike Moana, Pocahontas was actually considered a princess, both in history (via her real counterpart) and in her respective sequel. Moana was never considered a princess by others, including herself (except for Maui, but it was in a joking manner).
- Irene Bedard, who voiced Pocahontas, later portrayed her mother in New Line Cinema's 2005 film The New World.
- Pre-production of the first film in a Disney magazine promoting it showed there was a title card that featured an early version of Pocahontas who looked a lot like Tiger Lily. 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.
- Despite the events depicted in Pocahontas II, John Smith is still Pocahontas' official love interest, since most media, including the Disney Princess franchise, keep them as an official couple, completely ignoring John Rolfe. This is due to the fact that the franchise is mainly based in the Disney Animated Canon.
- In real life, Pocahontas did marry Kocoum. It occurred a year after John 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 the early concept art of Disney Infinity; thus, it can be inferred that she was considered to be in the game at one point.
- Pocahontas and Moana are the only Disney Princesses who did not appear in the Sofia the First series nor the live-action series Once Upon a Time. The reason why Pocahontas did not appear on the former was that the creators of the show found it very hard to do a story with her that worked.
- Pocahontas is one of the first Disney Princesses to have had no children in Descendants.
- Pocahontas is 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).
- Pocahontas is currently the only Disney Princess to have a tattoo (the symbol on her right arm) and the only one to wear one outfit throughout her entire film.
- Ralph Breaks the Internet marks Pocahontas' first appearance in computer animation.