During the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump began using the name “Pocahontas” as a slur against Senator Elizabeth Warren and her family.
The owner of Pocahontas.com – who privately purchased the domain more than 20 years ago – set up their website to redirect to ElizabethWarren.com after Trump’s remarks. We do not know the owner’s identity – and we did not ask them to do this.Senator Elizabeth Warren spoke to the National Congress of American Indians’ Executive Council Winter Session & Tribal Nations Policy Summit in Washington, DC on February 14, 2018.
But we urge the anonymous owner of Pocahontas.com to point their website to the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center instead. And we urge all visitors of Pocahontas.com to learn about the real Pocahontas and support the NIWRC’s work of protecting Native women from violence.
The story of the real Pocahontas is quite different from the myth that has been twisted by powerful people over the generations. When Pocahontas met John Smith, he was almost 30 years old – and she was about 10 years old. Whatever happened between them, it was no love story.
In her teens, Pocahontas was abducted, imprisoned, and held captive. Oral history of the Mattaponi tribe indicates that she was ripped away from her first husband and raped in captivity. When she later married John Rolfe, he paraded her around London to entertain the British and prop up financial investments in the Virginia Company. She was about 21 years old when she died, an ocean apart from her people.
Even today, violence continues to devastate Native communities. More than half of today’s Native women have experienced sexual violence. An even larger proportion have experienced violence generally. The Native women in some tribal communities are murdered at a rate higher than ten times the national average. The majority of violent crimes experienced by Native Americans are perpetrated by non-Natives.
The story of our country’s mistreatment of Native communities needs to be told. And we must come together to write a new story, where Native communities take their rightful seat at the table and determine for themselves how to build a stronger, brighter, and safer future. That is why the work of the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center – a Native nonprofit organization dedicated to creating and enhancing the capacity of Native communities to end gender-based violence – is so important.