Have you ever heard of the first thanksgiving? Well, there was one “how to” story for teachers to be able to teach their students effectively. Written by Chuck Larsen, the story was entitled, “Information for Teachers”. In the story, Larsen explained that the majority of Americans were taught in school – which was not entirely true. An interesting guy Larsen was. His ancestors witnessed the first official Thanksgiving and what emphasizes this is that his ancestors originated from both the pilgrims and the Indians.
It’s a challenge to know a wide spread of knowledge and having to choose the important information to share. It was 1620 when the Pilgrims had decided to venture for unfound land and cross the Atlantic Ocean. They drifted through the seas and stumbled on the rocky shores of a land that they hadn’t know had been owned by a group of native American’s known as the, “Wampanoag Indians”. This group of Indians lived in villages that were on the coast of what we know today as, Michigan and Rhode Island.
Their houses were known as, “Wigwams” that were made of poles and tree barks.
The use of this kind of shelter held on as a tradition for many many years. The Wampanoag’s migrated a lot just to be able to feed themselves. Hunting was their only strategy to catch their food, until later when the use of animal traps was introduced to them. When spring came, the Indians caught fish and in the planting season – they focused more on the forests for a source of food. When the weather got bad, they moved inland to protect themselves from the rains, floods, and even drought. Drought really caused a lot of starvation and dehydration to the Wampanoags.
Deer skin was one of the biggest hunted animal skin that helped these natives adjust to the rapid temperature changes that occurred during winter time. They also hunted bears for their skin, otters, beavers, and oxen for their fur. There were two kinds of Indians in New England at this time, The Iroquois and the Algonkian-speaking people, known as, “Algonquians”. The people who led these two clans were known as the Sachem. Each village consisted of a Sachem and a tribal council. The way power was held in the two clans had its differences. The political power floated upward to the people.
In the Algonquians, the power was held more by men. In the Iroquois, the women had the last vote for the person or group of people they wanted to lead their clan. When it came to enforcing laws and helping each other out, the men and women worked together. There were other Indians in the Eastern woodlands that considered the turtle, deer, and fish their brothers. They were at one with nature, they cherished it so much. Nature was cherished so much that when hunters went out to hunt, they left a little meat and skin as an offering to the spirits.
Now we can have a good picture of how the Wampanoags felt when they saw strange ships coming to the shores of their homes. As a custom of theirs, they welcomed the Pilgrims with open arms. They were generous to the new comers and they quickly grew a friendship. If there was no friendship, the pilgrims surely wouldn’t have survived. Along with the Pilgrims came their plant-able seeds that were known as, “wheat”. The climate was not the same as where the pilgrims originated from therefore the seeds weren’t able to grow in the rocky soil.
A man named, “Tisquantum” (better known as Squanto), had come to the rescue for the Pilgrims and for the Wampanoags. He helped them make planting the seeds easier which made food more available for everyone. Squanto was originally from Patuxet. He was born into the “Pokanokit” clan, another relative to the Wampanoags. Patuxet once on the spot where the pilgrims had built Plymouth but disappeared over time. Little did the Pilgrims know that Squanto had traveled to New England before with a friend named, “John Weymouth”.
When he had returned, he was captured by a British slaver and was sold to the Spanish in the Caribbean Islands. When he met a priest on the islands, they became friends. The priest helped Squanto escape the islands to get to Spain. When he got to Spain, he was brought on a ship and was sailed off to England. He found Cpt. Weymouth when he got to England and was immediately taken back to his homeland. They returned to Patuxet the same year the Pilgrims arrived. Unfortunately, when they got to Patuxet, there were bones everywhere as a result of a plague that the English slavers had left behind.
That was the moment that Squanto had decided to move with the neighboring Wampanoags. He moved with Samoset. One day when Squanto and Samoset were hunting on the shorelines of Patuxet, they surprisingly saw people from England on the shores of their homeland. They took days to observe the people and soon decided it was time to confront them. Samoset was first to approach them and say hello, and so did Squanto. They became friends with the pilgrims very quickly. What they found sad about the pilgrims was that they were in no good condition whatsoever.
They lived under dirt-covered shelters, they had almost no more food, and many of them had died during the winter times. Squanto and Samoset helped the pilgrims on the days to come; they taught them how to survive. By spring, the plants that they had planted had grown because of the help they had received from the two men. Things were looking much better for the Pilgrims; they had better shelter, food that would last them till winter, and much more survival techniques. They decided that they were to hold a thanksgiving feast to celebrate all their good fortunes.
They actually have six thanksgiving feasts a year. It all starts with the Maple Dance, followed by the Planting Feast, followed by the Strawberry Festival, followed by the Green Corn Festival, followed by the Harvest Festival, and followed by the mid-winter feast, and most importantly the “First Thanksgiving”. It’s true if you say that the friendship between the Wampanoags and the Pilgrims was true. Although the friendship was true, it did not last long. As time went by, more and more English men came to North America and didn’t need any help from the Natives as much as the original Pilgrims did. Many of he people who were considered new comers forgot all about the bond and help that they had and got from the Indians. Trust started to be broken and the friendship started to die out. The pilgrims started to tell the Indians that their customs and religion was wrong. After a few years the friendship between the two died out and the children who sat together in the “first thanksgiving” were now fighting one another in the battle later known as, “King Phillip’s War”. It’s unfortunate that this sad event occurred but it’s important to comprehend the whole story and not only the happy moments in the story.
Today, the town of Plymouth Rock is used for annual Thanksgiving feasts. Wampanoags still live in Massachusetts and in 1970 one of them spoke up and said these inspiring words: “Today is a time of celebrating for you — a time of looking back to the first days of white people in America. But it is not a time of celebrating for me. It is with a heavy heart that I look back upon what happened to my People. When the Pilgrims arrived, we, the Wampanoags, welcomed them with open arms, little knowing that it was the beginning of the end.
That before 50 years were to pass, the Wampanoag would no longer be a tribe. That we and other Indians living near the settlers would be killed by their guns or dead from diseases that we caught from them. Let us always remember, the Indian is and was just as human as the white people. ” Although the way of life that once belonged to these two groups of people is almost gone, Native Americans still walk Massachusetts. What happened, we can’t go back and change. All there is to do is work for a better country where people and nature can once again be of importance.
Cite this The Plymouth Thanksgiving Story
The Plymouth Thanksgiving Story. (2017, Jan 30). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/the-plymouth-thanksgiving-story/