December 02, 2022

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Missing Matoaka: The True Story of Pocahontas

Missing Matoaka: The True Story of Pocahontas

Image credit: Painting by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (Photo by Three Lions/Getty Images)

MUSKRAT Magazine is honoured to help share the Missing Matoaka Project and unveil the real story of Pocahontas. We believe that Indigenous stories must be told through the lens and voices of Indigenous people who bring a necessary truth to centuries of misrepresentation and destructive colonial whitewashing.

Pocahontas was also known in her Powhatan Tribe as Matoaka. She was only 10 years old when she met John Smith and their story together was far from a love story, in fact it was the opposite. Missing Matoaka is a powerful new project created by a team of Indigenous creators who collaborated to produce an alternative audio track for Pocahontas, replacing its falsely ‘sweet’ narrative of a romance between a stereotypical ‘Indian Princess’ and a European explorer with the far darker true story of Matoaka, one of the first documented missing and murdered First Nations women in North America.

According to Missing Matoaka screenwriter, Lauren DeLeary (Chippewas of the Thames), “The life of Matoaka is a chilling reality of the literal horror of invasion, enslavement, rape and murder. It is unfathomable that it can be funneled down so far from reality that it was made into a children’s movie, perpetuating lies and the fetishization of Indigenous women. It has taken over 400 years to tell this story correctly. Now more than ever it is time for Indigenous voices to be heard.”

A one hour and 20-minute audio track has been painstakingly cut and assembled to match up with the on-screen action from a film made about Pocahontas. “Missing Matoaka” was developed by a team including Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee-Cree writers and created using Indigenous voices and instruments. The audio track is told through the powerful, brutally honest, sharp witted and sometimes humorous voice of Pocahontas herself as she smashes and deconstructs the colonial fairy tale- a lie we know all too well. Voiced by Quinn Roffey-Antoine, a victim rights advocate at Aboriginal Legal Services in Toronto, Quinn makes Pocahontas’s experiences and expressions relatable as she holds up a mirror up to the exploitative, sexist colonial culture of the past that sadly extends into the present.

The project’s Creative Director, Derek Blais is a member of Oneida Nation of the Thames. Blais has deep and painful knowledge of the atrocities committed against Indigenous people and communities. His grandmother attended Residential School, while his mother was taken away as an infant in The Sixties Scoop.

Missing Matoaka is intended to set the record straight on several harmful misconceptions and stereotypes surrounding the story of Pocahontas/Matoaka:

  •   She was only 10 years old when she first encountered John Smith. And unlike the movie depiction, she didn’t abandon her people. Instead, the European invaders kidnapped Matoaka and held her hostage;
  • She was sexually assaulted and forced to marry one of her captors as a condition of her release, but would never be truly free again;
  • She was taken from her homelands and paraded around Europe as an example of successful colonization. She died from disease/poisoning fleeing England when she was just 21 years old.

MUSKRAT Magazine is supporting this educational project by learning about the real story of Pocahontas and sharing it with our community- we hope that you will too!

Go to https://www.missingmatoaka.ca/ and play the alternative audio track over a common movie about Pocahontas to learn the real story.

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About The Author

Rebeka Tabobondung

Media and story creator Rebeka Tabobondung is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of MUSKRATMagazine.com a leading on-line Indigenous arts and culture magazine. Rebeka is also a filmmaker, writer, poet, and Indigenous knowledge researcher. In 2015, Rebeka co-founded the Gchi Dewin Indigenous Storytellers Festival in Wasauksing First Nation, along the beautiful shores of Georgian Bay where she is also a community member.

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