What did the name "Pocahontas" mean?Pocahontas was converted to Christianity and baptized.  What was her Christian name?

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ladyvols1's profile pic

ladyvols1 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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Pocahontas’ real given name was Matoaca, but most of her tribe called her Pocahontas, which means "playful one," or “little wanton,” which means she was playful and willfull.  Often she was a little hard to control and didn’t listen very well.  “There are also recorded accounts of her having the names Amonte and White Feather. When she converted to Christianity and was baptized in 1614, she was given the Christian name Rebecca. For as many names as she had, there are as many interpretations of her role in American history: savior, victim, peacemaker, mother of the new world, pawn, ambassador, first Christian convert in America.”

rreitmeyer123's profile pic

rreitmeyer123 | (Level 3) Adjunct Educator

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The name Pocahontas means spoiled or naughty one, it also is sometimes translated as the playful one. However Pocahontas is just the name of a mythical character that was based on one of Powhatan’s daughters. The girl’s name was actually Matoaka, this name means Bright Stream Between the Hills. Pocahontas is the more commonly known name of the Powhatan girl because she was seen as becoming a savior to the Europeans and they recorded it wrong. It is also due to the Disney film that she has been made into such a iconic character. In fact the reason most people think of her as a young woman during these events is due to Disney as well. In actuality she was a young girl when she saved John Smith. After she becomes of marriage age she marries a man named John Rolfe and she would become known as Rebecca Rolfe since Rebecca was a more Christian name than her given one. Rebecca means knotted cord or captivating.

melony82's profile pic

melony82 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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Pocahantas means "playful one" in the Algonquin language.  Interestingly, Pocahontas was only her nickname.  Her birth name was Matoaka, which means "Bright stream between the hills."  Her Christian baptized name was Rebecca. 

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