In Defense of Pocahontas
Pocahontas may be old news or a faint freshman history memory, but for me, she is a catalyst to words I have held close for a while.
I love Pocahontas. And no, not the Disney version.
As a very young mother, I vowed none of my children would ever watch the Disney version of the legendary, Pocahontas. I was a lot more enthusiastic, and a hell of a lot more energetic back then. Social media wasn’t a thing, and I didn’t have an email address, so I wrote a letter. On paper, mind you, and mailed it, with a lickable stamp, to a parenting magazine. Yeah, AARP will not leave me alone.
The title, In Defense of Pocahontas, was written in my own hand.
No one ever got back to me.
A few years later, my oldest, Maggie’s kindergarten teacher called me at home. It was the Friday before Thanksgiving break. Mrs. C called to inquire why Maggie wasn’t allowed to watch Disney’s Pocahontas.
I explained, “Because Pocahontas was taken from her family, held for ransom, forced to become a Christian, baptized under the name Rebecca, married to a white politician, and then taken all over the blasted planet, boasted and bragged upon as a “Civilized Savage, dying at the age of 21.”
I trailed off with, “I get a little defensive about Pocahontas.”
The teacher said, “OH! That makes sense!”
And I inquired, “Why did Maggie say she could not watch Pocahontas?”
She giggled and said, “Maggie said she can’t watch Pocahontas because you said, ‘raccoons don’t sing.’”
In defense of Maggie, she’s correct, raccoons don’t sing. Rumor has it neither did the raccoons in the movie.
However, if you were ripped from your home, taken from your daddy, who adored you, held for ransom, forced to marry a stranger, and be put on show for your ability to conform to your captives’ demands, I doubt you would sing either.
Yeah, I feel pretty strongly about Pocahontas.
Perhaps it was my upbringing. I was raised in Utah, New Mexico, Texas, and a smidge of Colorado. My father is a geologist. Trilobites, rock formations, and fault lines were my teething rings. But my dad also taught me about the Indigenous people from the areas we lived. And I learned to love their legacy through the caves and artifacts they “left behind.”
Fast forward a few years and I married a plant and animal scientist who specialized in range management. Justin has the same tendencies my dad has when it comes to any kind of artifacts, ruins, native farming, and hunting, but specifically arrowheads. Justin’s arrowhead collection, uncovered over years of farming, has frequented many a show-n-tell. Just as my dad’s trilobites accompanied my siblings and me to the school-aged brag fest.
And, being from Utah, my mother was Mormon and my father was, not. Later, when my parents were baptized in an Assembly of God, they were very vocal about the Cult of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. My father, specifically on The Mountain Meadows Massacre.
The debacle of the historical “Oh my heck” event, is an entire post unto itself. But basically…
“On Sept. 11, 1857, a group of California-bound pioneers camping in southern Utah were murdered by a Mormon militia and its Indian allies. The massacre lasted less than five minutes, but when it was over, 120 men, women, and children had been clubbed, stabbed or shot at point-blank range.” (Eakin, Emily, New York Times, 10/12/02)
And documents show Brigham Young, a founding LDS father, set it all up blaming the indigenous people for the blood bath simply to maintain control of his followers. Dear Mormons, I am not reading your essay on why I should repent and report, so save your breath and keystrokes. No, I don’t care if we are cousins, still not interested. See, this is not a deconstructing Mormonism post. Although those are super fun cause those folks are finally “woke.” (Follow Actual_Agency and LDSDiscussions, for all the goods.)
This is just me realizing, authenticity is part of freedom.
For me, it’s not about the simple hashtags or the wet noodle excuses. For me, it is the freedom of acknowledging, this country, our Protestant Americanized culture, is the lie we have proclaimed as the only truth, forcing us to turn a blind eye to the freedom we were created for. I am not anti-American, I am pro-humanity.
Oh, how I love Jesus. Yes, I met with truth and grace through the good old English Standard Version. And, I believe the current energetic climate of our nation, the indoctrination of our children with stories and teachings that don’t add up, contradict common sense, personal power, and respect, and the deconstruction movement, is simply humanity breaking free.
Breaking free from the confusion of being taught, with words that do not compute in our creation. And finally running free into the arms of learning.
Painting the colors of the wind, the color you think will work for everyone else is the battle. Perhaps we did not mean to become a nation of bigots, but if you force-feed the people poison, eventually, someone will go on the hunt for the antidote.
And once you are free, you are free indeed. We need institutional law, of course, we need traffic lights. Drunk driving is not something we wish to promote. Still, it is outside the scope of the feelings of love to believe we might force others to love and respect what we do.
Trust and respect are born of the freedom of unconditional love. Conditional love, only offering love if someone behaves in a way that is pleasing to you, cannot be reconciled in the human brain. This goes both ways, whether we like it or not. You cannot force someone to respect you if they cannot make sense of your stance. And you can’t make sense of a stance that you are not capable of respecting. Our forefathers, who wrote of the greatness of God and the freedom of Christianity did so with African slaves in their fields on land they stole from the indigenous people.
So while we have romanticized the becoming, the head-heart knows, it’s a load of crap.
As we blow through Starbucks in our flashy, gas-guzzling SUVs, Toby Mac blaring, our Jesus fish bumper stickers clinging to our contradictions, Lord knows, we have perpetuated the lie. We post pictures of our $7 lattes, and rant and rave about our offenses. Our elitist ideals are craftily posted, accusing others of their lack, barely convincing ourselves, we just have got to be right. We rage about the drug-addicted and broken while crowdfunding donations to send our tweens to Africa to play missionary.
Our next post boasts of our contributions to recycling, like conscious Americans, who don’t waste money on first-class jet fuel to “save” more “savages,” so they can be Instagram famous too. Too afraid we will get hurt, we say no to foster care. Too busy with church commitments and Bible studies, we forget to stop and look up, acknowledge our smallness, and simply experience the essence of creation and give thanks.
All the while, at our core, we know, we are maxed out, unrested, and running on adrenaline fumes, desperate to keep others from challenging us. Simultaneously, we are clinging to the illusion of our better-than Western standards and its religions, filling the pews with our Spanx-covered bums and the collection plates with our mandatory sacrifices.
The wobble is in the facts.
Our subconscious knows that Pocahontas was a human being. And we know the line and verse. But we stumble in the reception because we cannot really believe what we are saying.
As groups of humanity witness our hypocrisy and call out our behaviors as ridiculous, privileged, and gross, we chant our pledges and cackle our hymns, unwilling to admit, we the people, One nation under God, claimed our stake on the backs of human beings, in the name of a church called “love. “
Perhaps, when I wrote my first book, Stolen Jesus, I had enough background to see the nonsense of Mormon ritual undies and creepy confessional closets. But here, now, 4 books later, I see the beauty of the unraveling. You cannot be partially free.
And once you are free, there’s no way in the folklorish hell you are willing to go back, ever.
I will never watch Disney’s Pocahontas because it is a terrible lie, a high-budget, cartoon version of a kidnapping, sexual assault, and undiagnosed Stockholm syndrome, romanticized to make us feel justified and not so savage, all while grossing $346 million in sales. And I will never forget Pocahontas because she was a victim of that which I cannot fathom.
In an interview a few years ago on Jen Hatmaker’s podcast For the Love, we discussed this commonality.
When my husband, Justin, and I adopted our son Sam, several people inquired about his birth family. On many occasions in response to my answer, “His birth parents were from Mexico,” people would say, “Oh, well maybe that was easier because his mother did not understand?”
Easier? Understand what? Because they aren’t white? English speaking? When I repeated this to Jen she concurred. Hatmaker, who has two adopted children from Ethiopia, had met with similar remarks. Oh, White America, every person, no matter class, color, ethnicity, or orientation, bleeds when they are cut.
Also, Pocahontas was kidnapped, just saying.
Giving a child up for adoption because you cannot take care of them is not an isolated pain reserved for Americans. We do not love more or better in English. I am stunned, always, when I am asked about our other adopted son, Charlie, and am met with the response, “You got a white baby in foster care?”
I try not to own judgment. Snark aside, I remember, my judgments are only judgments of myself. Deeming you less or me more on the sliding scale of my personal standards. So I refrain from answering, “Yeah stupid, white people mess up and lose their children to the foster care system.” But instead, I walk away, knowing I am fully capable of the same folly. The folly of believing my beliefs are the only way, and everyone else needs to agree with me so I can be right and feel goosebumpy over the validation.
So I am not saying all lives matter, in the ways of cultural unity or attempting to sound-wise.
I am saying that life matters.
And life is nothing without love. I believe we are in the presence of greatness with this generation of young people who refuse to be duped. I could make some really great millennial and gen Z jabs. The kids are home for the holidays and I feel like I am in a crossover of the Jetsons and the Flintstones. And while I do promise if one more person says the words, “Gaslighting” to me, Imma grabbing a lighter and a can of something flammable and teach a twenty-something a little bit about gas and light. Still, I will not disparage them.
I hope they continue to dig and discover. They have seen and know too much already. Our tactics and control methods are nonsense to them. Research and findings are carried in their hipster pockets. And although they may not have known about Pocahontas’ true story, they always go looking for the truth. I know, I raised a few. And they are right, not about the gaslighting. I swear that’s not a real thing. They are right in knowing other humans for their humanity, stepping in and exploring others’ struggles, and offering legitimate compassion and real friendship. And I hope our entire globe continues to learn from that hungry curiosity. Landing safely in the arms of that which is Love.
Love and Fear can never be reconciled in our creation.
No matter the color, the wind, or the fable that romanticizes a human tragedy for the sake of “freedom,” our culture will continue to be challenged. Because we are created to grow in our experience on earth.
Our history will continue to be justly exposed. And the deceit we pledge our allegiance to now travels at the speed of Siri. Meaning, change is here. All it took is the technology we love to hate. And now, as we scroll past TikTok videos of mega Christian churches opening prayers of “Let’s go Brandon!,” our contradictions are viral. Rote answers now fall on wise ears and have no POW or Shazam! Because they are light shows and empty promises, readers can get those on any mobile device.
Love and the truth?
They will always prevail. There is no offense in authentic, unconditional Love. Its only motive is itself. Love exposes deceit, not with brute force, but by simply balancing the unbalanced because that is what Love does. It heals, protects, leads teaches, and nurtures. Love cannot be anything but authentic.
And it is well.
Love always, Jami
Dear Reader, welcome to my new website, formally sacredgroundstickyfloors.com, now redirected to jamiamerine.com. If you have already subscribed to my newsletter, please add email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org to your contacts. My newsletter will be coming through this address. If you haven’t subscribed, you can do so below. This year I have big plans for my writing and I would love to have you join me as we organize our brains, take thoughts captive, increase our faith, and bask in the love of freedom, on Earth as it is in Heaven. Thanks! And Jesus be all over you! Love, J
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