Native Americans and Colonizaiton: The Review of Pocahontas Movie

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Words: 1329 |

Pages: 3|

7 min read

Published: Jun 9, 2021

Words: 1329|Pages: 3|7 min read

Published: Jun 9, 2021

The discovery of the New World was just the beginning of new things and the end of some old things. After the New World was discovered, outsiders benefited from it, and the New World quickly became a modern colony, especially North America. The cartoon movie called ''Pocahontas'' is about colonization, modernization, self-identification, nationalism and also assimilation of one culture through the name of modernization. Actually, Pocahontas was a real Native American who lived between 1596 till 1617 and married with English men called John Rolfe. She was the daughter of Powhatan who was the paramount chief of all the tribes in the Tsenacommacah. The term tribe is used in different ways to specify varying kinds of social organization. In some cases, it refers to a group of local bands or villages with common ancestry, culture, and language. It also sometimes refers to groups of peoples spread over a wider area but cooperated politically in what is called a confederacy. In still other cases, tribe refers to just one village.

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At the beginning of the cartoon the sailors singing a song which was about all the richness of the New World that will make them rich and free. Also, the year is 1607 in the cartoon. They also say they are workers of Virginia Company which is important to mention because it marks that England is industrialized so they are coming to the New World because they need more of human power, sources, raw material, etc. Also, this is directly connected with colonization. Colonialism is a powerful force that affected American Indian cultures in many ways (Horse, 2005). However, no culture remains static. I think there is an important detail behind the scenes is that there is one sailor which is not British. He is Scottish. This is hidden no one, especially kids can easily realize what is meant behind that scene but this may say that England will conquer the New World too as they did before to Scotland. Besides, this sentence ''You can't fight with the Indians without John Smith.'' shows their intention towards the Indians/Native Americans. Also, as they are shown in the cartoon Native Americans lived in tribes and also it is mentioned in the cartoon that there are conflicts among tribes, Natives said they win their fight with the Massawomeck. Furthermore, Natives showed more spiritual, more peaceful and more dependent and respectful to nature in the cartoon. For instance, Pocahontas talking with the tree called grandmother willow and taking advice from that tree also, the song Natives singing at the beginning shows how much respect they show to the earth. On the other hand, the governor Ratcliffe and his servant call the Natives “savages”. This shows that they see Indians savage in their gaze. In addition to that, in the Indians' gaze, they are savage. In the cartoon, there is also Orientalism. Orientalism according to Friedman (1992) is a product of the practice of Western self-identification in a hegemonic space where the other one is silent. In the cartoon, England represents the hegemonic one on the other hand silent one is what the English men called “savages” which is the Natives.

When the ship arrived at the New World, while the tribe making an emergency meeting and one of the members of the tribe said “they have hair on their faces like dogs” is important to mention too. We know Indians men cannot have hair on their faces which also points to the difference between them and the visitors. The visitors are not men like them. Also, there is one wise old man, Kekata, in the tribe and all of the members of the tribe believe his words. They count on him. Kekata while making a ritual said “Strange, beast bodies that shine like sun and weapons that spellfire and thunder”, “consuming everything on their path” about the visitors. This shows the gaze of Indians to these visitors. They are actually invaders to them. When the English ship as soon as arrived at the land they were started digging and devastating the forest with no hesitation. This also shows their intention to the land.

While John Smith trying to learn more about the land, he confronted with the Pocahontas and when he spoke with her in English she listened with her heart, as the grandmother willow said before, suddenly she understand and started to speak in English. This actually shows how strongly Natives are connected with their tradition which also points to spiritualism.

When the Natives and the visitors confronted the battle happened. Also, one Indian man got shot then the chief decided to fight these invaders not alone but with his every village in his nation. He said to Kokoum “Send messengers to every village in our nation”. The word ‘’nation’’ is an important concept to talk about. Friedman states (1995) ethnic identity is a form of nationalism also the nation is a modern invention. Ethnic identity is not natural and inborn, nor the product of ancient tradition, instead; it is socially constructed (Friedman, 1995). Nationalism is a theory of political legitimacy, which requires that ethnic boundaries should not cut across political ones … It follows that a territorial political unit can only become ethnically homogenous … if it either kills, or expels, or assimilates all non-nationals.

After a while, he said Pocohantas ‘’savage’’. Then she got offended and:

J.Smith:‘’ It is just a term for people who are uncivilized. What I mean is…’’

Pocahontas: ‘’What you mean is not like you.’’ Then Pocahontas starts to sing a song and explain how he claims he knew and saw everything, he is the civilized one but Pocahontas says in her song that then how there is so much he doesn’t know. I think this song explains how the Natives see these people. Also how they are different from them. Furthermore, there is no such thing as a monolithic American Indian entity. One’s identity as an American Indian is highly personal.

Pocahontas sings: You think I am 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 (while she is pointing his gun)

How can there be so much that you don’t know

You think you own whatever land you land on (they actually trying to conquer the land)

The earth is just a dead thing you can claim (she points out that the visitors/invaders don’t show any respect to the earth)

But I know every rock and tree and creature has a life, has a spirit, has a name…

John Smith said Pocahontas that they are going to show you how to use this land properly. Also, he adds they are going to show them how to do things right basically how to be civilized. First Americans, in fact, gone through periods of de-urbanization and re-urbanization on various occasions in their history (Forbes, 1998). Actually, what they are trying to the Native people is assimilate them. Cultural assimilation is the process in which a minority group or culture comes to resemble a dominant group or assume the values, behaviors, and beliefs of another group. The cultural assimilation of Native Americans was an assimilation attempt by the United States to transform Native American culture to European American culture between the years of 1790 and 1920. In many ways, Native Americans have assimilated into the dominant culture. Native American identity is multifaceted (Horse, 2005). Many issues or elements (such as ethnic nomenclature, racial attitudes, the legal and political status of American Indian nations and American Indian people, cultural change, and one’s sensibility about what being a Native American means in today’s society) influence Native American identity.

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Indians are promoted in this cartoon. From what I saw in this cartoon that Indians' spiritualistic characteristic is selected. Spirituality deals with understanding the nature of the Soul and one’s journey back to identifying with the Soul and experiencing it as one’s true nature.


  • Friedman, J. (1992). The Past in the Future: History and the Politics of Identity. American Anthropologist, 94(4), 837–859. doi: 10.1525/aa.1992.94.4.02a00040
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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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Native Americans and Colonizaiton: The Review of Pocahontas Movie. (2021, Jun 09). GradesFixer. Retrieved February 25, 2024, from
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