Monday, November 20, 2006

The First Thanksgiving Day Celebration: the Pilgrims and the Indians in Plymouth

Interested in a less Eurocentric view of Thanksgiving, or looking for a way to honor the Indians who helped the Pilgrims? Curious about just who those Indians at the first Thanksgiving were?

The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, claims that its members are the descendants of the people who first met the Pilgrims in America. The tribe is still located in Massachusetts, and celebrates its proud heritage and its connection with the Mayflower immigrants. Of course they have a website, which you can access by clicking here.

For several centuries, the Mashpee Wampanoag, who also have their own town, governed itself as any indepedent Massachusetts town. When they lost Indian control of the government through the democratic process, they decided that it was time to finally be recognized as a separate Indian Nation. The preliminary decision from the Federal Government is in their favor, and that decision, which is very readable, and well worth your time, is available by clicking here. (An even more comprehensive document is here.)

If you are looking for an interesting Thanksgiving project, or a way to make a donation which honors Native Americans and their importance to the early Pilgrims, the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe is collecting funds to restore their Old Meeting House, which dates back to 1684.

Happily, these Mashpee Wampanoags are a technological lot, and you don’t even need to address an envelope. They will be happy to take your donation, via credit card, online, which you can do by clicking here.

Collecting donations would be a fun Sunday School project for all those good Congregationalist children who are busy honoring their Pilgrim forbearers this week. Or better yet, on Thanksgiving Day, have the kids made a collection box and hit-up all your guests. How’s that for getting even with all those free-loading relatives?

(Just a reminder that the Pilgrims knew that idle hands do the devil's work. If you have a bunch of kids coming for Thanksgiving don't forget to print out a few coloring pages to give them something to do, just click here to find a number of cute coloring projects. )

Note: In honor of Thanksgiving, we have several posts on the Pilgrims which you might like. You can view them all at by clicking here.


Blogger Sean Carter said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Nov 20, 2006, 11:39:00 PM  
Blogger fausto said...

Actually, the Wampanoags who met the Pilgrims were Pokanockets (except for Squanto, the only surviving Patuxet), not Mashpees. The Pokanockets went nearly extinct after King Philip's War. The Mashpee tribe absorbed some stragglers from other tribes after the war, but they aren't the tribe that interacted with the Pilgrims.

There is another surviving tribe of Wampanoags at Gay Head (Aquinnah) on Martha's Vineyard, with a website here.

Nov 24, 2006, 11:34:00 AM  
Blogger Publia said...

Hi Fausto,
You might be right about the Pokanockets, but the Mashpee are claiming that they are the Native Americans who greeted the Mayflower. They say:
On November 9th in the year 1620, when 102 weary pilgrims from Plymouth, England first stepped foot on what would later be called American soil, it was the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe that welcomed them to the New World in the sprit of peace and brotherhood. It was this ancient and noble tribe that taught the Pilgrims to survive and flourish in their new home, playing host to them at the first Thanksgiving in 1621. When the time came for the early settlers to venture into the interior, it was the Mashpee who acted as advisors, guiding them into the vast and untamed land. Since that historic period the Mashpee Wampanoag have proudly served their tribal community and their fellow citizens in the town of Mashpee, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the United States of America as neighbors and friends.
Since they have nice things to say about the whole experience, I thought I'd go along with them, figuring this is American and everyone gets to write their own history.

Nov 27, 2006, 12:11:00 AM  
Blogger fausto said...

That's true only in the sense that all SE Mass and RI was once inhabited by Wampanoags. But the Mashpee band was from, well, Mashpee! Since many of their survivng neighbors were resettled to Mashpee after various plagues and decimations, that may be why they claim the lineage, but it's at best an exaggeration.

Not that there's anything wrong with that. If you go to Gay Head, now once again known (at least by the Politically Correct) as Aquinnah, to view the spectacular colored clay cliffs where the spirit of Moshup still dwells, you can buy a nice rubber tomahawk, or a bamboo peace pipe, or a chief's headdress with brightly colored feathers. Moshup has not risen out of the cliffs to object, but then again, you never see him depicted with any of that stuff.

Dec 4, 2006, 6:11:00 PM  
Blogger Publia said...

Fausto, I am letting you have the last word. PR aside, I know are correct. I just admire those Natives who speak well of the Early New Englanders.

Dec 13, 2006, 7:10:00 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home