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Paula Gunn Allen's "Sendings" from Pocahontas: Engaging with an Unusual Reality

Carly Scheer, University of Minnesota

[1] Pocahontas spoke to Paula Gunn Allen for more than twenty years. Allen explained to an interviewer that in 1978, after she had read the chapter on Pocahontas in Charles Larson's American Indian Fiction, she experienced the first of what she calls "sendings" from Pocahontas—an experience that persisted from time to time during the next two decades. The first "sending" resulted in the 1978 poem "Pocahontas, to Her English Husband, John Rolfe," a work that Allen contends Pocahontas "more or less said" to her for Allen's transcription (Braxton). The fruition of the "sendings" coalesced into the 2004 non-fictional, historical, biographical, and mystic-laden book Pocahontas: Medicine Woman, Spy, Entrepreneur, Diplomat.

[2] Pocahontas did not speak in words, but as a sense of "beauty," which Allen decodes for readers in a narrative that can seem meandering, magical, and repetitive—ultimately mirroring Native oral tradition. The "sendings," or what Allen often terms "Algonquian whispers," are received from Pocahontas and the Manito.

[3] The Manito is "a complicated term that relates to paranormal, supernatural, and transcendent conditions of consciousness and existence" (Allen 29). The Manito life circle -- which encompasses both reality and an abstract reality that is unseen, but no less real -- is "composed of both space and time," with all components of space and time "moving, interacting, communicating, and exchanging information and energy" (29). Within the Manito life circle, people, therefore, "like life itself, have neither beginning nor end" (2). Allen, consequently, can converse with a woman who died 400 years ago, because within the Manito life circle, Pocahontas is as much alive today as she was 400 years ago.

[4] The authenticity of the source is questionable to the average reader, and Allen anticipates this reaction by offering a sort of "How-To-Read-My-Book" in the introduction: "I am basing my narrative on several assumptions: that Manito—is reality. I am also assuming the reality of the spirit world or realm where supernaturals live and where the laws of physics are distinct from ours" (4).

[5] If these assumptions leave a reader feeling alienated and overwhelmed by this perhaps uncomfortable reality, consider Coleridge's theory of the "Suspension of Disbelief" (S.o.d.). This theory encourages audiences "to tacitly agree to provisionally suspend their judgment in exchange for the promise of entertainment." And, in addition to the entertainment, the audience may reap the benefit that such an application "may also lend to the engagement of the mind and perhaps proposition of thoughts, ideas, art, and theories" (See Coleridge 145).

[6] The audience can also benefit from Allen's persistent reminder: every familiar history of Pocahontas we are acquainted with is contrived. It is a "mundane" and "romanticized" version of an Indian woman's life, "mis-contextualized" and confined within a European worldview instead of an Algonquian worldview (11-12). Though "sendings," "Algonquian whispers," and "supernaturals" are not the typical forms of authenticity we are comfortable with, Allen provides an opportunity to experience history on an entirely novel avenue—one that transcends the banal materialistic world.

[7] For the faint of believers, Allen employs the historic record in addition to the Manito, attempting to weave a narrative line connecting the familiar with the unfamiliar. Such "weaving" of Native convention and familiar history can be dizzying, with its narrative iterations changing throughout the book (10). Allen admits to "adding more information, or shifting the point of view" throughout the narrative in order to accurately represent the Native oral tradition (3); this tactic, however, often results in contradictory messages. Among "sendings," the familiar history, and the employment of Native narrative tradition, the reader must traverse a perpetually altering story, sometimes one undermining the previous page.

[8] If still looking for proof, or the kind of authentication including charts, ledgers, timelines, and the scientific method, Allen provides this encouragement: "Most of the proof is in the entire quality of the pudding, when the witnesses are as likely as not to be wind, rain, extinct forests, grasslands, deer . . . proving becomes a challenge" (14).

Profile of Paula Gunn Allen

[9] While traversing the mystic-laden historical narrative Pocahontas: Medicine Woman, Spy, Entrepreneur, Diplomat, it is imperative to acknowledge the academic credentials and credibility of Paula Gunn Allen. She is not a woman walking in the forest solo, rambling about with Grandmother Willow; she is a widely recognized, often anthologized scholar who has helped create fundamental texts in Native American literature: "Her work as critic and anthologist has been instrumental in promoting American Indian studies and cannot be said of many other academics in any field" (Purdy).

[10] Allen, who died in 2008 at the age of sixty-eight, was not only a novelist, but a poet and essayist as well. She was recognized as a leading scholar in American Indian studies and was a venerated feminist and gay and lesbian writer. In 2004, one year after its release, Pocahontas: Medicine Woman, Spy, Entrepreneur, Diplomat received a Pulitzer Prize Nomination.

[11] Aside from academic accomplishments, Allen is funny—that slightly cruel kind of funny. She refers to the familiar history of the love-struck Indian maiden in a comically denigrating tone. Allen reasons that after Pocahontas engaged in a love affair with John Smith, she married John Rolfe, the consolatory prize, because she "had fallen so helplessly for old blue eyes that she was forever after pining for white meat" (212). In an interview, when Allen was asked what Pocahontas said via the infamous "sendings," Allen again nods to the over-publicized love story: "Pocahontas said, 'John Smith give me fevernot! That smelly, hairy, old man! He couldn't give even my mother fever!'" (Braxton)

[12] Perhaps it is this blatant distaste for the commercialized and sexed-up Pocahontas that motivates Allen to write a Pocahontas-centric history, told by none other than Pocahontas herself. An additional factor prompting Allen, or at least her publisher HarperSanFranciso, may have been the celebration of Jamestown's four-hundred year anniversary in 2007. This latter factor, however, is infused with Anglo-capitalism—and Allen's motivations remain Native-centric; therefore, the most likely motivation for Allen was the commencement of the "Time for Reconciliation," which was forecast by the Indian elders to begin in the mid-1990's (7). The "Time for Reconciliation" means that a compromise and union between the races is called for.

[13] In an interview, however, Allen professes the entire book "was a set-up by the Manito to get Pocahontas's story out at this troubled and tumultuous time and in the way I would present it" (Braxton). It's interesting to note in the aforementioned remark that "Pocahontas" and "I" appear as equally important characters according to the "set-up by the Manito." By drawing proportionately parallel lines between the Manito, Pocahontas, and herself, Allen exposes that she is also a character within the Pocahontas narrative.

The Storyline of Pocahontas: Medicine Woman, Spy, Entrepreneur, Diplomat

[14] In her Introduction, Allen explains that "Indian storytelling sequences seem random, off the point, and around the edges of what's on your mind." Stories narrated through an Indian convention may seem illogical and confusing; however, they are simultaneously liberating because you can connect narrative "points . . . in an endless variety of ways" (13); consequently, every reader experiences a unique and individual engagement with the text. So, instead of feeling alienated by what is foreign or uncomfortable, she invites her readers to acquiesce and discover a Pocahontas narrative hitherto unknown to the general public.

[15] Though there are numerous departures in Allen's narrative from the familiar history, the following are the prominent narrative highlights and variations.


[16] Before Pocahontas is born, the elders receive a vision from the Manito. The Manito reveal that an influential child "possessed of a high-order of spiritual identity" will be born into the Powhatan peoples (235). That child is Pocahontas. Thus, Pocahontas's entire life is mapped out before she is conceived. Once born, Pocahontas is to fulfill the prophecy directed by the Manito. She is like the leading lady in a play—she does not act with individual agency; she follows the producers, in this case the Manito, and performs the script (72-93).

[17] Pocahontas's birth is not the only prophecy within Allen's narrative. Allen initiates prophetic examinations of history by arguing that Powhatan's "astronomers and prophets" foresaw foreigners entering their homeland, with the first two encounters with foreigners resulting in little harm; according to prophecy, however, the third encounter would forever alter the Native lifestyle (136).

[18] William Strachey, an early Jamestown resident, similarly noted there were peculiar prophecies amid the Indians that foresaw that the "third tyme" the Natives encountered foreigners, destruction and obliteration would befall their Native conventions and peoples (Richter 35). Smith and the colonists of Jamestown were the third foreigners to enter the Chesapeake Bay region, and the Powhatans "were aware of the potentially dreadful consequences of that third landing" (Allen 39).

[19] Allen's elaboration on prophecy serves to sever perceptions that the Indians were ignorant and savage. The Indians foresaw their destruction, and, as it was foreordained, they therefore should not be categorized as the "victims" of history.

Responsibilities of "Adepts"

[20] Pocahontas is an "adept"—one who is highly educated in Dream-Vision disciplines (21). She was granted this skill before birth by the Manito, so she could communicate more proficiently with supernaturals throughout her life. Pocahontas's Dream Visions require her to interpret and transcribe messages from the spiritual world, or Manito, and to communicate these messages back to her people. Not all Indians are "adepts," but it is highly likely that Paula Gunn Allen was probably an "adept" as well. Within the text, Allen alludes that she speaks the same language as Pocahontas and therefore is able to transcribe the spiritual "sendings" from her into tangible words—words that a Manito-detached public, like ourselves, can comprehend (110).

[21] Allen admits that transcribing and interpreting abstract messages from the Manito involves a great deal of personal liberty (Braxton). In an interview following a three-day symposium entitled "Theories of Representation in American Indian Literatures: European and North American Perspectives," Allen was prompted to discuss the process of understanding spiritual messages, or codes. She responded: "The one who interprets, what the gods said to the speaker, the writer, the poet, etc. . . . [has] the code… she decodes what's coming through the channel, the trans-medium . . . It's not about appropriating, it's about interpreting" (Purdy).

[22] Allen can comprehend the mysterious spiritual "sendings" because there is something specific to Allen that she and Pocahontas share, a multi-cultural history. Allen has taken a language spoken in non-materialistic dimensions and created a canvas, a translation book, for the public to learn translations from the Manito language to the English language. The reader must put all faith in Allen's transcription of Pocahontas (she's kind of like her own Webster, and no one can dispute her)—and succumb to the language of the Manito.

That Famous Rescue!

[23] Allen's "rescue" is surprisingly familiar; initially, it parallels the rescue that has been obsessed over for hundreds of years, the rescue "as told by John Smith." However, the context of the rescue according to Allen more closely mirrors Custalow and Daniel's insight, one shared by some anthropologists: that the John Smith "rescue" was actually an adoption or initiation ceremony (Custalow Daniel).

[24] The "rescue" narrative is pre-empted with Pocahontas's Dream Vision, which occurs before Smith and the colonists arrive in the Powhatan Confederacy. To catechize her Dream Vision, Pocahontas makes ceremonial offerings to the Manito and enters a spiritual state (Allen 28). Shortly thereafter, her Dream Vision initiates:

In her dream vision, Pocahontas found herself by the water. She saw several ships, like great white birds, coming in Chesapeake Bay, with strange people pouring out of them. She also saw wigwams, fields, medicine houses, the towns of Pamunkey, Mattaponi, Powhatan, Potomac—all that was familiar and dear to her—shrinking, made as tiny as ant villages, even sinking under the hills and riverbanks. And she saw her people disappearing. Pocahontas then saw a strange man float up onto shore, his body lifting and falling gently on the quiet tide until he came to rest on two flat stones. His head was turned toward her and she looked directly into his bearded face. (34)

[25] The next part of the narrative is familiar: Smith and the colonists arrive. While exploring the tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay, Smith is captured by Pamunkey men. He is paraded around the tribal villages for weeks until finally he is brought into Werowocomoco (41).

[26] At Werowocomoco, at a Nokomis ceremony, Smith is brought into the "Great House." The air is "thick with heat and ash," and Powhatan stands up and "commands two great flat stones be placed in front of him." Indian warriors with clubs drag Smith and lay him on the flat stones. To Smith this only means one thing, a "beheading" (48). Allen declares that Smith's fear was understandable, considering beheading was "quite fashionable" in England at the time (5). At this moment, "a high sounding wail reaches the air." The voice is that of Pocahontas. She recognizes Smith as the man from her Dream Vision. She runs and "hurls her small body upon Smith's, wraps her arms tightly around him, and lays her head over him" (50).

[27] The Powhatans, thereafter, begin to sing and dance, thanking the spirits because Pocahontas has signaled that Smith will be "transformed while still in the flesh"—contrary to transforming him into a bloody pulp (50). Because of Pocahontas's Dream Vision, wherein she saw Smith's façade float to shore, Smith will be initiated into the Powhatan Alliance to be an ambassador between the English and the Powhatans; to maintain a peace; and aid the Powhatan peoples in the time of transformation. During Smith's diplomatic endeavor, Pocahontas will be his spirit guide and mentor (55).

[28] Unfortunately Smith does not heed the instruction of his spiritual guide. He betrays his diplomatic promises and aids in the demise of the Powhatans. Allen does not explicitly state the difficulty this behavior raises, but in Smith's instance the Manito got it all wrong. Without Smith, however, Pocahontas would not have been led to Jamestown and finally to England. Both locations serve significant purposes in Pocahontas's prophesized responsibilities.


[29] Allen contends that "the abduction of Pocahontas by Samuel Argall in 1612 . . . leaves questions about Pocahontas and her motives in boarding" (120).

[30] Following this claim, however, Allen declares that Pocahontas boarded ship with Argall because "it was the occasion she was waiting for," it was "a continuance of her duties as spy and perhaps as emissary . . . and the council needed eyes and ears within the [English] enclave" (131). This interpretation insinuates that Pocahontas knew that she was being abducted and was encouraged by the prospect. The abduction would give Pocahontas the opportunity to gather valuable information from the colonists that she could then relay back to her tribe. Later in the text, however, Pocahontas's ransom again becomes problematic, and Allen states Pocahontas either "was abducted…or perhaps orchestrated" the ransom (180). Allen ultimately demonstrates she is as befuddled as are other Indian historians regarding Pocahontas's abduction.

The Baptism

[31] Shortly after Pocahontas is abducted, she is baptized. Allen disputes that the baptism was a conversion into Christianity; instead, it was Pocahontas's conversion into a "new-made English medicine woman" (188). Allen reasons that throughout Pocahontas's life, she acted on behalf of the Manito. Pocahontas's relationship with the Manito was preserved despite her baptism, because her responsibilities required she remain accessible to the Manito through the life circle.

[32] Ultimately, it appears that Allen wants to dismiss any lingering question that Pocahontas was a spiritual "traitor," and she is successful in doing so. Pocahontas's actions throughout the entirety of her existence appear to remain intimately attached to the Manito life circle.

Tobacco and John Rolfe

[33] Pocahontas married John Rolfe, not because of "romantic impulses" (90), but because marrying him would insure the "spirit of tobacco would find a home in the new world" (235). The Manito foresaw the fall of the Powhatan people, "cradle board and all,"—and wanted to insure "the most sacred plant of all beings," tobacco, would find a place within the changing landscape (213). Currently, tobacco is known for its devastating health consequences, and Allen acknowledges that today's tobacco is an adulterated version of the herb. Allen insists that despite its dangers, tobacco is capable of healing and simultaneously bringing near-death spiritual experiences which mirror enlightenment (244). To me, this reasoning suggests that hallucinogenic users are in some way experiencing enlightenment. (It's an idea that kills any romantic vision I previously possessed, which included Buddhist temples amid rolling green hills; now I think of dirty basements in seedy parts of town.)

[34] If introducing this shamanistic drug into the western world was Pocahontas's, or rather the Manito's intention, success was had. Rolfe became the primary exporter of tobacco to England, and without the "advice, counsel, and effort of his wife's relatives" on how to plant, develop, and cure the tobacco, he would not have been so wildly profitable (Richter 71, Allen 58).

England and the Occult

[35] The Treasurer set sail to England in 1616 with Pocahontas, John Rolfe, Thomas, Pocahontas's "dozen or so attendants" (Allen 271), and "several thousand pounds of tobacco" (288). Rolfe sought to "receive capital and renew funding" by appealing to the English crown.

[36] Pocahontas's intentions in going to England were quite different from Rolfe's. Her Manito-directed mission was to exchange "arcane knowledge" with the English occult and to deliver this knowledge back to the Native Elders (284). We know that Pocahontas died on this journey, but Allen states, "I doubt it made much of a difference to those Old Ones whether she came back in her Pocahontas body or not" (137). Life and death are not so clearly defined in the Indian convention; according to Allen, they are merely states. Therefore, the "Old Ones," or spiritual elders, could receive information from Pocahontas whether or not she was alive.

[37] The arcane and pagan practices of many Europeans were not so different from those of the Manito. Allen claims such people as Queen Elizabeth I, Shakespeare, George Percy, Thomas Hariot, and Francis Drake were students of the occult (7). The names of the occult gods currently befit fairytales: wizards, faeries, and the Green Knight (a goat-like god, sometimes called Pan). Forget that this all sounds a bit like a Harry Potter book, let go of materialistic reason, and realize there is a bit of magic in every religion. Allen declares that Pocahontas's mission in England was a success because she "vitalized the imaginations of the strangers," and "implanted in their subconscious the spirit, the Manito" (95).


[38] Allen parallels the insights of Custalow and Daniel in The True Story of Pocahontas, by claiming that Pocahontas "may have been poisoned" on her return journey from England (Custalow and Daniel).

[39] In her intimate acquaintance with the crown, which flourished at lavish balls and banquets sponsored by the King and Queen, Pocahontas acquired valuable information that she planned to pass on to the Powhatan council (Allen 298). Allen suggests the Virginia Colony men aboard the Treasurer saw this knowledge as a threat and poisoned Pocahontas. "John Rolfe himself" is the most likely conspirator, and the "absence of medical reports" further contends that Rolfe had something to hide (300).

In the End

[40] The Powhatan tribe continued to dwindle, and thus the "third encounter" prophecy was fulfilled—colonialism won and the Powhatan Confederacy was soon only "a small inscription on the engraved portrait of the beloved woman," Pocahontas (304). Pocahontas, however, successfully built a bridge between "Manito and Faerie," she introduced the shamanistic herb tobacco to the world, and "she was the mother of a new race"—there are three million mixed-blood descendants of English and Powhatan stock (305).


[41]Pocahontas: Medicine Woman, Spy, Entrepreneur, Diplomat is a narrative about two women; it essentially a biography and autobiography. Pocahontas and Paula Gunn Allen are inextricably connected throughout the narrative, navigating history together to recover their identities.

Wait, Who Are We Talking About?

[42] Differentiating between Pocahontas and Allen can be tricky. This interplay occurs throughout the narrative, and it provides multiple interpretations. One example of this interplay occurs in the "Dream Vision" chapter containing the heading, "Here in this Sacred Place I Stand" (28). One may initially presume Allen is discussing the sacred spot where Pocahontas received her prophetic Dream Vision about John Smith, but—Allen is also subliminally referring to herself, because she has been having Dream Visions as well, of Pocahontas, which inspire her to write the Manito-directed narrative of Pocahontas. Allen's sacred place was not Chesapeake Bay, but Pocahontas's burial place at Gravesend. Allusions such as "Here in this Sacred Place I Stand" provide the opportunity to interpret who the subject is, Pocahontas or Paula Gunn Allen?


[43] Allen admitted that a great deal of personal liberty is involved in transcribing Pocahontas's "sendings." Ultimately, Allen has infused Pocahontas's "Algonquian whispers" with a feminist foundation. By feminism, I mean a very simplistic idea of feminism. I'm not discussing theories or movements—but a female-centric platform.

[44] First of all, Allen immediately establishes that Pocahontas is "wrongly identified" as princess and the daughter of Powhatan (21). Allen articulates that the English habitually used the term father to signify the leading man. It is no surprise that the Powhatans did likewise, doubtless thinking communication was clear…and the English became perversely literal, ascribing paternity to Powhatan (75).

[45] Western historic sources equally argue that "there is no particular reason to assume that she was a princess due to the structure of the Powhatan matrilineal society" (Richter 71).

[46] Throughout the narrative, Allen reiterates that Powhatan women dictated and commanded the Indian society. The "Feminine Principals," women who held leadership roles like Powhatan and sometimes referred to as "Beloved Women," made many of the most important decisions for the clan (Allen 51). Even Powhatan himself was appointed by the Feminine Principals, who recognized he would to be a staunch leader for the clan (37, 303).

[47] The recognition of female importance within Indian communities is becoming more widely accepted by scholars. Early colonists never credited the diplomatic authority of Indian women. Throughout the early historic record, Indian women involved in political affairs were referred to as "emissaries," instead of diplomats. Ultimately, however, the colonists were projecting their gendered ideas onto another culture, and they failed to recognize that often the "emissaries" were actually political leaders, not just delivering a message, but speaking on behalf of their people (Merrill).

[48] Allen's aversion to associating Pocahontas's connection to men serves to reinstate Pocahontas as "the subject of her own story," rather than the supporting role. Allen contends that too often Pocahontas's significance is represented only through her relationships with "husband, father, brother, or king," instead of representing her significance as an individual woman (21).

[49] Allen has said of her own sexuality, "I think I am neither/nor, both/and right now. I'm of the celibacy school of human sexuality" (Braxton). Throughout the narrative, Allen is motivated to assign Pocahontas to the same "celibacy school." Mention of Kuokum, her Indian husband who receives greater elaboration in Custalow and Daniel, is rather slight. It entails: "She was married to the young Indian Kuocum" (Allen 125) and is followed in a subsequent chapter with the statement that her marriage to Koucum was "questionable" (183).

[50] As for John Rolfe, "it seems clear that [he] is tormented by his passion for the savage maiden," "was inflamed by the exotic Indian Princess," and "is so smitten he is in agony"; however, Pocahontas's "affection was mild" (221). Yet, the couple bore a son, a process which requires engaging in intercourse, so Pocahontas obviously didn't join Allen's school of celibacy.

[51] Overall, men do not fare well in Allen's narrative. Powhatan does not pay Pocahontas's ransom when she is abducted. Smith fails as the adopted son to the Powhatan people and as the intermediary ambassador to the English and Powhatans. Rolfe has a carnal sexuality and simultaneous aversion towards Pocahontas; an unfaltering affection for smoking copious amounts of tobacco to the point of being stoned; and he purportedly murders his wife by poisoning her and then hastily disposes of her body. Whether this is Pocahontas's perspective of men, or Allen's, one cannot be entirely certain. This take on men, however, appears to be a motivation of the author. Allen cannot deny delegating Pocahontas as a woman un-fussed by any man—Powhatan, Smith, or Rolfe. The association would lucidly make problematic the task of defining Pocahontas as an individual, an Indian woman. Instead of Pocahontas's battling for space on the podium of history—with Rolfe, Powhatan or Smith—the contending men are disqualified from the game.

[52] Nonetheless, Allen has faltered in her aim to create an entirely empowered Indian woman emblem. If Pocahontas is to be a venerated symbol of feminism, why does Allen argue that the entire narrative is "Manito-directed"? Pocahontas is characterized as a privileged instrument of the divine, but, ultimately, she is still an instrument. This instrumental function implies that Pocahontas's role in history completely lacks individual agency. More often than not, Pocahontas comes across as affable and willing to abide by command instead of acting on her individual accord.

Finding an Identity

[53] Allen has infused the Pocahontas narrative with her own substantiation of self—who and what she is as a "multicultural" woman. Allen's background is comprised of "Catholic, Native American, Protestant, Jewish, and Marionite" (Bruchac). Her father was Lebanese, and her mother was of Laguna Pueblo–Métis–Scots heritage. In an interview, Allen said, "Sometimes I get in a dialogue between what the Church taught me, the nuns taught me, what my mother taught me, and what my experience growing up taught me. Often you can't reconcile them" (Purdy). Allen searches for this reconciliation by highlighting the idea of mixed-breeds and multi-culturalism.

[54] Attempting to work through her own perplexity of heritage identification, Allen parallels Pocahontas's multi-heritage with her own—and perhaps in this union, Paula Gunn Allen aspires to create a new definition for women, not the oppressed Indians, nor the capitalist westerners—but women who are multi-cultural events.

[55] In an essay titled Borderlands, another multi-cultural scholar, homosexual Chicana American writer Gloria Anzaldua, discussed "finding [her] own intrinsic nature buried under the personality that has been imposed on [her]" (Anzaldua 1015). Like Anzaldua, Pocahontas and Allen have had their identities "imposed" upon them by the culture that "forms our beliefs" (1018). Allen refers to this imposing culture as the "Christian-based capitalist" society (Allen 4). After reading Allen's narrative, it is evident she aspires to break inculcated definitions of Indian women according to her own credence. In an interview, Allen talks over the initial (and failed) publishing company she attempted to collaborate with for the Pocahontas narrative: "The publishers want[ed] it to be A Native American's View of . . . and I don't like that. I want, you know, just one person. It's just me, what I think. I'm saying these things. I know what I think; that's my responsibility. I'm not supposed to know what other people think" (Purdy).

[56] This excerpt highlights Allen's inclination to represent a multi-cultural perspective. Allen identifies herself as "mixed-blood, hybrid woman"; Pocahontas "is a mixed-breed or hybrid study"; and "American Indian life in the United States is a mixed-breed or hybrid life." By elaborating on "multi-culturalism," Allen eliminates linear categorizations of "this is Indian" and "that is Anglo-American." She frequently draws associations between the English and the Indians. Allen claims "the Indians differed little from the English of the time" (6) and that the Pocahontas "narrative is about mixed currents of cultural and spiritual influence" (14). Therefore, Allen does not abhor elements of the English lifestyle. In refraining from attacking the English colonists, she simultaneously advocates the stance that the public should not cast Indians as the oppressed peoples.

[57] Additional cross-cultural associations are drawn throughout the text. For example, the Manito and the English occult worldviews both were based on "metaphysical definitions of reality and the human place within it" (7), and therefore are born from the same foundational study. More tangibly, Allen insists that despite the conception that Indians lived under the shade of the trees and not in substantial homes, they actually lived in structures that mirrored the colonist's dwellings. For an even more modern example, Allen claims that "many a fashionable young woman on the contemporary scene echoes Algonquian women's dress of the time, suggesting to some that colonization is not a one-way process" (86). Allen's purpose in paralleling the two cultures, instead of alienating one from the other, is to demonstrate that "acculturation" goes both ways (7).

[58] Her employment of associations attempts to eradicate cultural categorization—she doesn't want to fill a check-box. Her dedication to weaving multi-cultural views within the narrative could be compared to the making of a blanket. In the "Time of Reconciliation," Allen attempts to unravel a historic past containing inherent physical and cultural differences that currently cannot co-exist or co-operate as a functional blanket. She is re-weaving a historical blanket by employing multiple media and fibers that hitherto didn't go together in the world of academia. Instead of focusing on the physical differences of the materials and media she works with, she focuses on creating a blanket utilizing multiple media—yet still functions as a blanket, or history. Ultimately, she is a multi-media artist.

Within the Greater Discourse

[59] In an interview, Allen reveals that she writes "as a somewhat outsider and a somewhat insider" (Braxton). She understands formal English and American academia, while simultaneously she understands what is more abstract, the Manito. A colleague at UCLA described Allen as "sublimely mis-fitted" compared to other staff members, because she employed both abstract spiritualistic interpretations as well as materialistic interpretations.

[60] Yet, she is not the only member of the scholarly world employing material and non-material mediums. Ideas like Allen's, for instance, are mirrored in modern physicist David Bohm's studies (Allen 112-13). Bohm claims:

Reality, or "that which is," is but a process of movement . . . This flowing movement throws out explicit forms that we recognize through our sense of sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch. These explicate forms abide for a time and we take them as direct evidence of hard and fast reality. However, the explicate order accounts for only a very small portion of reality; underlying it is more extensive implicate, or enfolded order. The stable forms we see around us are not primary in themselves but only the temporary unfolding of the underlying implicate order. To take rocks, trees, planets, or stars as the primary reality would be like assuming that the vortices in a river exist in their own right and are totally independent of the flowing river itself. (20)

[61] Bohm's discourse helps substantiate the possibility of "sendings" for non-believers. Work like Bohm's and Allen's build conduits for the spiritual world to reach the academic audience in this "Time for Reconciliation." Both scholars are inaugurating a new way of interpreting the world and of interpreting history.

[62] Perhaps it is time to reconsider what constitutes academic authenticity. Allen's novel differs from many Pocahontas narratives because she makes challenging her difficult. Where other familiar histories allow for comparison with contemporaries, Allen's breaks ground by incorporating abstract substantiations that are completely based on her own spiritual accord. As humans, we often believe it if we can see it, hear it, taste it, smell it, or put it through the scientific method. And what doesn't fall into these categories is—well, "weird." I argue if you believe in uncanny coincidences, if you are any way spiritual, or if at one you time heard Santa on the roof . . . consider and perhaps believe Paula Gunn Allen.

Works Cited

Allen, Paula Gunn. Pocahontas: Medicine Woman, Spy, Entrepreneur, Diplomat. New York:
HarperSanFranciso, 2003.

Anzaldua, Gloria. Borderlands/ La Frontera. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 1987.

Braxton, JoAnne. "Pocahontas' Voice: A Conversation with Paula Gunn Allen." The Women's Review of Books. Other Words: American Indian Literature, Law, and Culture. Norton: U of Oklahoma P, 2001.

Bruchac, Joseph. "I Climb the Mesas in My Dreams: An Interview with Paula Gunn Allen." Survival This Way: Interviews with American Indian Poet. Tucson: Sun Tracks and U of Arizona P, 1987.

Coleridge, Samuel Taylor. Biographia Literaria, or, Biographical Sketches of My Literary Life and Opinions. London: George Bell, 1898.

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