A reminder for the first day of American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month: Pocahontas was a real person. She was part of a larger sacred story that has been polluted by Disney and others over the years, resulting in confusion and negligence. The next time (and there will be, trust me) a public official who should know better berates another through the defamation of an indigenous person, remember the integrity of those who were here before us. Those simply trying to play the hand dealt them. In this case, it was a young woman playing the hand dealt by others with power she didn’t have.
For an excellent report on this feminine force from the past, read this National Park Service essay by Sarah Stebbins or Jackie Mansky’s article from 2017. My point here is to remind, and to kick off this heritage month with a brief reflection. My Cherokee 3rd great aunt, Cynthia Rogers Lowe, named her first child “Julia Pocahontas Lowe,” (1846-1903), and I presume Aunt Cynthia did this out of genuine admiration for Pocahontas, not some cartoon-inflated fantasy that has served little purpose other than to entertain in an odd, “sippy cup” sort of way.
As you go about your business this month, especially as you celebrate what we have come to call “Thanksgiving,” please have a care and a pause now and again for the people who populated this land long before any of us were a thought or a prayer.
Wado! (Wah doh, thank you!)