She was a favorite daughter of the most powerful Native American in Virginia. She took a keen interest in the new settlers on the island in the big river that flowed to the bay. And she grew up to take a specific role as peacemaker between the English and the Powhatan Indians — a role that her early death cut short, giving her uncle an opportunity to order a massive sneak attack that killed hundreds of colonists.
The world of Pocahontas changed dramatically during her lifetime. At her birth, her father, Wahunsenacawh, had expanded his political leadership across 8,000 square miles from the banks of the James River north to the Potomac River, covering more than 30 communities that included nearly 15,000 people. The English who came to Jamestown Island in 1607 resisted his wish that they become another subject community. Pocahontas was directly involved in the relationship between the English and the Powhatan Indians that whipsawed between friendly trade of food and open warfare and kidnapping. She herself was kidnapped from a village on the Potomac River and held in captivity for a year before she announced to Chief Powhatan her conversion to Christianity and her desire to marry English tobacco grower John Rolfe.