Edward Norton did an ancestry test only to discover that the real-life Pocahontas, the romanticized and mythologized 17th-century daughter of a Native American chief, is his 12th great-grandmother.
The Oscar-nominated star learned of his family connection to the woman who married Virginia settler John Rolfe on Tuesday’s episode of the PBS genealogical history show “Finding Your Roots.”
Pocahontas welcomed English settlers to the current-day US in the early 17th century. Legend holds that she saved the life of Captain John Smith, stopping his execution by laying her head upon his.
The show, which traces the ancestral histories of celebrities, also uncovered that Norton’s third great-grandfather, John Winstead, owned a family of slaves including a 55-year-old man, a 37-year-old woman and five young girls, aged 4, 6, 8, and 9 and 10.
Asked what it was like to see a census that confirmed his relative was a slave owner, Norton said, “The short answer is these things are uncomfortable. And you should be uncomfortable with them.”
The first episode of season nine of “Finding Your Roots” aired on PBS on Tuesday, Jan. 3, at 8 p.m. ET. The episode featured Norton and additionally, American actress Julia Roberts, who will also be exploring her family’s lineage.