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October 1, 2013

Historic Jamestowne Kicks Off World of Pocahontas Lecture Series on Oct. 10 with Historian James Rice

Historic Jamestowne’s World of Pocahontas Lecture Series begins this fall with its inaugural presentation by historian and author James Rice as he explores of the role of children in the early years of Jamestown — specifically, the lives of two young captives, one a Powhatan girl and the other an English boy. The lecture, “Hostage, Diplomat, Spy: Children and War in Pocahontas' World,” kicks off the series at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 10 in the Hennage Auditorium of the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg.

Rice examines the intertwined stories of the two captives — a Powhatan girl best known today as Pocahontas and an English boy named Henry Spelman – as a way of exploring their experiences and the ways in which they shaped the course of colonial encounters in a critically important place and time.

Native American society and politics in the region now known as Virginia were highly complex and very much in flux when the Jamestown colonists established their beachhead in 1607. Relationships between the Powhatan core peoples and native societies both within and on the periphery of the paramount chiefdom varied considerably. The arrival of the English would further complicate those politics and the balance of power in the region. For natives and newcomers alike, one of the keys to navigating this fraught situation was children: specifically, a small but highly influential group of hostages who came of age among strangers and served as vital cultural go-betweens: emissaries and spies, translators, diplomats and converts. Sometimes, it was suspected, they were traitors.

James Rice is a professor of history at SUNY Plattsburgh where he teaches courses on Colonial America, Native America, and the American Revolution. He is the author of “Tales from a Revolution: Bacon's Rebellion and the Transformation of Early America” and “Nature and History in the Potomac Country: From Hunter-Gatherers to the Age of Jefferson.”

The World of Pocahontas Lecture Series explores the politics, culture, beliefs and material world of the region's indigenous peoples and English newcomers in the 17th century and the legacy left by these early interactions. The lecture series is part of a host of programs and events highlighting the 400th commemoration of Pocahontas' capture, marriage and voyage to England. On April 5, 2014, visitors will have a unique opportunity to experience Pocahontas' marriage to Englishman John Rolfe at the original site where the wedding took place. In 2010, archaeologists uncovered the location of the 1608 church in James Fort, the site of the 1614 marriage. The World of Pocahontas initiative is presented by The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and Preservation Virginia, in collaboration with the Pamunkey Indian Museum and Cultural Center and the Patawomeck Heritage Foundation.

General admission tickets to this lecture are $6 for adults and $2 for students (ID required at time of purchase). Tickets can be purchased at any Colonial Williamsburg ticket location or by calling 1-800-HISTORY. It is recommended that guests pick up their tickets by 5:15 p.m. on the day of the lecture.

Programs and exhibitions at The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation's DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum are supported by the DeWitt Wallace Endowment Fund.

Media Contact:
Jim Bradley