[ skip to content ]


Helen Clark Rountree, professor emeritus of anthropology at Old Dominion University, is noted in today's The New York Times in a story about linguists providing the language for Pochahontas and other Powhatan Indians represented in the movie "The New World."

In the article, "Linguists Find the Words, and Pocohantas Speaks Again," reporter John Noble Wilford notes that Rountree is collaborating on a dictionary of Virginia Algonquian with University of North Carolina linguist Blair A. Rudes, who provided the language for the movie.

A faculty member at Old Dominion for 31 years before her retirement in 1999, Rountree is a nationally recognized expert in the study of North American Indian culture. Her unique research, scholarship and field work have provided significant insights on the Powhatan Indians and other tribes that inhabited eastern Virginia and the East Coast from the early 1600s the present.

Rountree's groundbreaking scholarship crossed the boundaries of anthropology to include ethnohistory. The merger of these intellectual streams and methodology has provided scholars, students and the public a comprehensive view of Indian life and culture in the Chesapeake Bay region.

Before Disney Studios turned out its animated hit "Pocahontas" in 1995, Rountree was known for her research primarily among fellow scholars. But almost immediately after the movie's premiere, her name popped up frequently in the media as an expert source on the Indian girl, based on her field work with Virginia's Powhatan and the Western Shoshone Native American tribes.

Rountree received a 1995 Outstanding Faculty Award from the State Council of Higher Education. With the money she received from the award, Rountree published a children's book later that year, "Young Pocahontas in the Indian World."

Through the years, Rountree's work earned her the trust of local Indian tribes, including the Nansemond and Upper Mattaponi, who made her an honorary member. Her professional associations include a life membership in the American Anthropological Association.

Rountree's list of publications is extensive. It includes four academic books about Virginia Indians. She also was a consultant on "Algonquians of the East Coast," part of a Time-Life Books series on American Indian tribes, and was a regional consultant for the first episode of PBS's "Land of the Eagles" series on the Mid-Atlantic region.

This article was posted on: March 7, 2006

Old Dominion University
Office of University Relations

Room 100 Koch Hall Norfolk, Virginia 23529-0018
Telephone: 757-683-3114

Old Dominion University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action institution.