- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 5, 2006

NORFOLK — Did Pocahontas and John Smith really have a romance for the ages?

Students worldwide will learn the answer to that inevitable question and others during a one-hour live webcast Thursday that is part of the commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown, America’s first permanent English settlement.

“Jamestown Live” will feature interviews, musical performances and participation by an audience of about 200 at the Jamestown Settlement living history museum that will include student “ambassadors” representing all 50 states and the District, plus students from Virginia schools.

Students and teachers not on site will be able to e-mail questions before and during the webcast. Organizers expect more than 1 million students from the United States, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Austria, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, Singapore and the United Kingdom to participate.

“It’s really giving teachers and students a very visual and interactive way to learn about Jamestown,” said Linda Stanier, manager of special events and promotions for Jamestown 2007, the agency coordinating the 18-month Jamestown commemoration, which began in May. “It’s exploring the 17th century 21st-century style.”

Students and educators can register for the webcast at www.JamestownJourney.org. The program, developed with leading educational organizations, is aimed at students in the fourth through eighth grades, their teachers and home-schoolers, but the Web site has free curricula and lesson plans for kindergarten through 12th grade compiled by the University of Virginia Center for Politics.

Public Broadcasting Service journalist Gwen Ifill will serve as host of the webcast. She will be joined by student reporters and specialists discussing three Jamestown legacies: representative government, the spirit of exploration and cultural diversity.

“We’re stimulating or creating an appetite,” said Stephen Adkins, chief of Virginia’s Chickahominy Indian tribe. “People will learn that history has been denied. … There’s a great void in the history books in Virginia as it relates to the people of color, the blacks and the Indians.”

Mr. Adkins said he wants to give people a glimpse of what life was like for woodland Indians in 1607 and what it is like for Virginia Indians today.

“I’d like for the world to know that the Indians have been in this general area for 13,000, 15,000 years” before the English settlers arrived, he said. “They had a stable culture with an established system of governance in 1607, a rather civilized lifestyle.”

James Horn, author of “A Land as God Made It: Jamestown and the Birth of America,” said the webcast is long enough to get across some major points about Jamestown, including the fact that it is the site of the first representative government in America.

“It’s also important to look at adaptations and survivals of different peoples and cultures and ultimately to think about the successful aspects of these three cultures coming together and living together,” said Mr. Horn, director of research at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. “That’s essentially what the American experience has been about.”

Jamestown “is a rich and vivid story, and most people have no idea,” Mr. Horn said. “If they know anything about it, they think of Smith and Pocahontas.”

What they think of Smith and Pocahontas isn’t always right.

Student reporter Camille Warren interviewed Mr. Horn for a taped segment for the webcast and said she was surprised to learn the “real story” of Smith, a 28-year-old leader of the settlers, and Pocahontas, the 10- or 11-year-old daughter of a powerful Indian chief.

“John Smith and Pocahontas didn’t really have a romance,” said Camille, 15, of Newport News, one of six area students chosen to be reporters among about 26 who auditioned. “They were actually just in a nice friendship, and John Smith thought of Pocahontas as his daughter. I didn’t know that.”

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