Actor and producer Edward Norton (Primal Fear, American History X, Fight Club, The Illusionist) learned on the TV show “Finding Your Roots” that Pocahontas is his 12th great-grandmother, and therefore a direct descendant.
“Finding Your Roots” is a television show that airs on PBS in the United States. It is a genealogy documentary series hosted by Henry Louis Gates Jr. that explores the family history of various celebrities, politicians, and public figures.
Each episode follows a different guest as they learn about their ancestry and the historical events that shaped their family’s story. The show uses a combination of historical records, genealogical research, and DNA analysis to help the guests trace their lineage and learn about their ancestors.
The latest episode in question has confirmed that Norton is a direct descendant of the Native American heroine through her marriage to colonialist John Rolfe. Host Henry Louis Gates Jr. informed Norton of the connection, which the actor had previously only known as part of his family’s “legend.”
Norton commented on the revelation:
It just makes you realise what a small piece of the whole human story you are.
The episode also revealed that Norton’s ancestors had owned slaves, which he described as an “uncomfortable” revelation. Despite this, Norton said that participating in the show was a “privilege and a pleasure.”
Who exactly was Pocahontas?
Pocahontas was a Native American woman who played a pivotal role in the colonial history of the United States. She was the daughter of the Algonquin chief Powhatan, who ruled over the Powhatan Confederacy of tribes in the Virginia region.
Pocahontas is most famously known for her relationship with English colonist John Smith, who claimed that she saved his life when he was captured by her father’s tribe in 1607.
Pocahontas later married Englishman John Rolfe and travelled to England, where she was hailed as a celebrity and met King James I.
According to historical records, Pocahontas died in Gravesend, England on March 21, 1617 at the young age of 21. She had been in England for several years, during which time she converted to Christianity and took the name Rebecca. It is not clear exactly what caused her death, but it is believed that she may have contracted a disease while in England.
Pocahontas is remembered as an important figure in American history and has been depicted in numerous works of literature, film, and art.
- Pocahontas: instant images