Tuesday, April 17, 2012


In 1608, Captain John Smith, one of the leaders of the English settlement at Jamestown in Virginia, was captured by Indians.  According to a book Smith wrote in later years, he was about to be clubbed to death when Pocahontas, “the king’s dearest daughter…got his head in her arms and laid her own upon his to save him from death.”

No one knows for sure if Smith’s story is true.  Yet there is no doubt that Pocahontas was a young princess of the Powhatan tribe who befriended the settlers, helped them in many ways, and convinced her father, the chief, to give the foreigners food during the harsh winter.

Relations between the Indians and the settlers were not good, however.  In 1613, Pocahontas was taken hostage by the settlers.  During her stay in the colony, Pocahontas learned English and became a Christian.  Her marriage to John Rolfe, a tobacco planter, resulted in an eight year truce between Indians and settlers.

In 1616, Pocahontas traveled to England with her husband.  She was treated like royalty by the English, who found her charming and beautiful.  But before she could return to Virginia in 1617, she was taken ill and died at the age of 22.

Pocahontas’ real name as Matoaka.  “Pocahontas” was a nickname meaning “the playful one.”  After she was married, Pocahontas was known as Lady Rebecca Rolfe.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

50th Anniversary of the Roswell Incident

In early July, 1947, a sheep rancher near Roswell, New Mexico, found pieces of strange metal foil littering his land.  The material was unlike anything he had ever seen.  Officials at a nearby air-force base said the debris was from a weather balloon.   But some people didn't believe it.  They claimed the metal was from an alien spacecraft that had crashed to earth.  The government, they said, was hiding the evidence.

The alleged crash and cover-up of a UFO (unidentified flying object) became known as the Roswell Incident.  By the time the 50th anniversary of the event occurred in 1997, the story had been wildly exaggerated.   Some people claimed to have seen alien bodies as well as alien spacescraft.  As the anniversary neared, the air force released a paper explaining how secret military work may have inspired the stories.

The original debris came from a high-altitude spy balloon the report said.  Further, the “alien bodies” were crash-test dummies, and the “UFOs” were secret spy planes.

The report didn’t dampen Roswell’s anniversary celebration.  For six days in July, people toured the alleged crash site, visited UFO museums, and attended concerts and extraterrestrial-themed costume parties.  Nor did the report change the minds of those who continued to insist that aliens had crashed at Roswell 50 years before. 

A 1997 Time magazine poll found that one of every three Americans believe that aliens have visited earth.