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Actor Edward Norton appeared on “Finding Your Roots,” where he found out that Pocahontas, daughter of a 17th-century Native American chief, is his 12th great-grandmother.
Pocahontas is known for saving Captain John Smith’s life. Disney told the story in the 1995 film “Pocahontas.”
Through a direct paper trail leading to Pocahontas and John Rolfes’ 1614 marriage certificate, @EdwardNorton learns that his family lore appears to be true. His 12th great-grandmother is Pocohantas!
Tune in TOMORROW night on @PBS at 8/7c for the Finding Your Roots premiere!! pic.twitter.com/54sTTt2YKY
— Henry Louis Gates Jr (@HenryLouisGates) January 2, 2023
Historian host Henry Louis Gates Jr. said, “You have a direct paper trail, no doubt about it, connection to your 12th great-grandmother and great-grandfather.”
Gates said that Pocahontas died in 1617 in Jamestown, Virginia, around three years after marrying Rolfe.
Norton added, “This is about as far back as you can go unless you’re a Viking. This makes you realize what a small piece of the whole human story you are.”
He said, “When you read ‘slave aged eight,’ you want to die. The short answer is these things are uncomfortable.”
“And you should be uncomfortable with them. It’s not a judgment on you in your own life, but it’s a judgment on the history of this country, and it needs to be acknowledged first and foremost, and then it needs to be contended with.”
Norton also learned that he was related to a wealthy iron manufacturer who later became a Union soldier.
Julia Roberts’ roots found that her ancestors were slave owners, too.
Roberts said, “You have to figure if you’re from the South, you’re on one side of it or the other.” She found it necessary to “understand” and “not shy away” from your history.