These last few weeks brought jolting discoveries at residential schools in Canada— unmarked grave sites thought to contain the remains of hundreds of Indigenous children who went missing. The news was a visceral reminder that systemic racism and discrimination can literally bury the past.
So we decided to revisit an episode about a woman who— unlike so many Indigenous people of her time— was celebrated by Colonial America, and actually had a portrait made: Pocahontas.
Curator and author Paul Chaat Smith sifts through what we know, and what we think we know, about this iconic figure.
Pocahontas / Unidentified Artist, Copy after: Simon van de Passe, after 1616 / Oil on canvas / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; transfer from the National Gallery of Art; gift of the A.W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust, 1942 / NPG.65.61