Pocahontas & The Virginia Indians Online Course

Class #1- Intro to the Project, the Course and the Virginia Indians

Welcome Student and Intellectual Pioneer!

I am so excited to officially welcome you to the first class in the on-line self study course called Pocahontas and the Virginia Indians. As the curator of the course content I am honored you have enrolled in this information and inspiration exchange and I look forward to collaborating with you to make your education and social development experience as meaningful as possible. Below please find the link on the Gloucester County website you will use to access the Course Content whenever you want.


I want to start by explaining a concept we call Thoughtwork which is a critically important component of this Course. At the end of each class Course Headteacher Rhonda Taylor will suggest Thoughtwork for Students to consider. This intellectual opportunity is an example of the self-study aspect of this course - how much time you spend is up to you, but we are going to try to provoke and challenge you to want to spend time because it has meaning to you. You will see that before you start the Class #1 content Headteacher Taylor has some Pre-Course Thoughtwork for you to consider.

We start the Class #1 Content with an introductory video from me, Rick Tatnall, and my good friend Anne Richardson, Chief of the Rappahannock Indian Tribe. We follow with a video introduction from Headteacher Rhonda Taylor. Following that you will access videos from two people who have been materially involved in the Pocahontas Project from the beginning - Rev. Chris Stone from Gravesend, England and Carol Steele from Gloucester, Virginia. These "shout out" videos are part of a regular theme for each of the 10 classes. One is a video from a fellow Student and one is a video from a place named for or commemorating Pocahontas. Each week these videos will offer you some additional context before the formal class content and Thoughtwork.

Starting today and for the next 9 Mondays the Pocahontas Project will roll out a new Class (total of 10 classes) on this Course Webpage with completely new Course Content and Thoughtwork. The 10th and final Class will be made available on August 17th. From that point through Sunday November 8th, all 10 weeks of Course Content will be available for all enrolled Students. When we say this is a Self-Study course, we mean it - no matter when you enroll and begin, all Students have until November 8th to access all of the Course content and special videos whenever they want.

Please be aware there is some curious, semi-intentional timing to the start of our Course on June 15, 2020. Almost to the day 25 years ago the Disney movie named Pocahontas was released in theaters across America - middle of June 1995. Continuing the curiousness, 1995 was the 400th anniversary of Pocahontas’ birth year, which most historians define as 1595. The Disney movie is our course content in Class #4 and as a reminder - it is your responsibility to find access to the video. It is available on many streaming services - please let me know if you need any help. Our planned class sequence has you viewing the Disney version of history after seeing the Smithsonian and NOVA versions in weeks two and three, enabling a comparison of historical fact with theatrical license. Throughout this Course you will see that the Pocahontas Project likes to present many perspectives to help you think through the possibilities - when considering history, it is important to understand the personal perspectives of the historians, which influence "their version" of the facts.

Finally, some housekeeping considerations:

1) Audio quality will vary with the weekly Student and Pocahontas place videos, so please be prepared to turn your volume up or down as needed

2) Please let me know about any problem you encounter in terms of accessing content, technical issues, distorted web page views, or other problems with the presentation of the course content

3) We are relying on the Honor System - Please remember that the weblink we are providing you today is for your use and those in your household only. If you know someone else who might be interested in becoming a student, send them to http://replenishrichmond.com/pocahontas-and-the-virginia-indians/

That’s all for now. ENJOY!

Rick Tatnall

Headteacher Pre-Course Thoughtwork (before you get started with Class #1)

Before you start with the Class #1 Content Headteacher Rhonda Taylor suggests every Student spend some time considering the following:

•    What are your goals and objectives for taking this Course?  If the Pocahontas Project can help you achieve them, please let us know how.  Your input will help us customize this informational and inspirational experience for you.

•    What knowledge do you already hold regarding Pocahontas?  Consider the context of your understanding – does what you know place Pocahontas in the context of her culture, or in yours?

•    What do you need intellectually and spiritually to better understand the worldview of Pocahontas’ people more completely?  Whatever that is, students are asked to look for it in this Course and please ask for it if you don’t find it.

Introductory Video from Course Curator Rick Tatnall and Chief Anne Richardson discussing the Pocahontas Project and the purpose & goals of this course

Headteacher, Rhonda Taylor Course Intro

Student of the course video, discussing why Pocahontas is important to them- Rev. Chris Stone from Gravesend, England

Shout out video from a place named for or connected to Pocahontas- Carol Steele from Gloucester, Virginia.

Formal Class Content

In March of 2017 the community of Gravesend, England honored the 400th anniversary of the funeral of Pocahontas at St. George’s Church on March 21, 1617 with a multi-event commemoration called Pocahontas 400.  Planning for and participating in Pocahontas 400 provided the energy and inspiration for the creation of the Pocahontas Project.  This video captures the magic quite well.

Pocahontas 400 commemoration video (March 2017 in Gravesend, England – 13.5 minutes)


An influential site since the 1200’s, Werowocomoco is located along the York River’s Puritan Bay in Gloucester County. Many believe it was the political and spiritual center of the Tidewater Indian world for more than 400 years before English colonists from Jamestown recorded visits there.  Abandoned in 1609, the site remained in private hands until becoming part of the National Park System in 2016.

NPS Video – Werowocomoco: A Powhatan Place of Power (2018 / 7 minutes)


Virginia Humanities has collaborated with the Library of Virginia for an online catalog called Encyclopedia Virginia. This link offers Students a complete history on Indians in Virginia and pathways to more information.

Reading Assignment > Virginia Humanities Encyclopedia Virginia – Indians in Virginia


Class #1 Thoughtwork (to be done after reviewing all class content)

•    Students are asked to consider the power of the place called Werowocomoco in 1606 – a year before the English arrive. After thousands of years of social development, Werowocomoco in 1606 was the home / capital / headquarters of the supreme leadership of the complex society we call the Powhatan Tribes; a place Pocahontas certainly knew well. Then in 1607, the English showed up in numbers and life immediately changed forever for the Powhatan tribes. WOW – consider what that must have been like for Pocahontas and her people.

•    Students are asked to consider the similarities between the “new normal” Pocahontas and her people faced with the arrival of the English, and the new normal humanity is currently facing in the summer of 2020. Like today, the Powhatan Tribes were simultaneously confronted with new diseases and escalating racial tensions after the English started to arrive in 1607. Barely a teenager in the face of this adversity and uncertainty, Pocahontas exemplified leadership qualities that are compelling and quite relevant today. Students are asked to consider what other similarities or consistencies there are between the Pocahontas story and global events today.

•    Students are asked to start to consider the form and substance of their Pocahontas Legacy Offering which is a Course requirement to receive a Course Completion Certificate.