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Thanksgiving Story Activity
Excerpt From this Document
The Thanksgiving Story of the Wampanoag Tribe
Wampanoag people have always held many seasonal thanksgiving ceremonies. But there is a big difference between these ancient and ongoing celebrations and the Pilgrims' first harvest festival which led to the establishment of the National holiday now known as Thanksgiving. For Wampanoag people, this holiday evokes painful feelings about the consequences they are forced to endure for European settlement and the establishment of America. Children in elementary classrooms learn that the Pilgrims had the right to this land. This is a distortion that deprives Wampanoag people of their history and ignores the devastating events that followed. Listen as Wampanoag people describe their own thanksgivings and the national holiday called Thanksgiving.
- "The way that I try to explain Thanksgiving to teachers is that there are many thanksgivings, it is not just that one day. As for the first Thanksgiving, it wasn't necessarily that they (the Pilgrims) invited our ancestors to eat. It just happened that it was a time when the leader of our people was coming into their (the Pilgrim) village on business. So they invited the men to stay and partake in the feast. Tobias Vanderhoop, Aquinnah Wampanoag
- "Wampanoags are a fishing, hunting, and planting people. There was always enough bounty for feasts throughout the year. With four distinct prolific seasons, the Wampanoag harvested different types of food each season. The animal, fish, bird, and plant relatives of the Native people have life cycles and migration patterns which make this possible. Thanksgiving is a commitment to all living things we accept as food to sustain our lives. More important than a feast or occasion, Thanksgiving is a concept from ancient times." Ramona Peters, Mashpee Wampanoag
- "The irony is that these people's (Pilgrim's) religion even forbid them to sit down at a table and break bread with 'heathens,' with non-Christians. You see all these wonderful little picture books of little Indian children and Pilgrim children eating and smiling at each other. It just would never have happened." Jessie Little Doe Fermino, Mashpee Wampanoag
- "This is a time of celebration for you-- celebrating an anniversary of the beginning for the white man in America -- a time to look back, a time of reflection. It is with a heavy heart that I look back at what happened to my people." Frank James, Aquinnah Wampanoag, Speech that was to be delivered 1972
In the 18th and 19th centuries, despite poverty, illness, and prejudice, Wampanoag communities and traditions endured. Although the Wampanaog are not mentioned in textbooks after the late 17th century, the Wampanoagcontinue to live and work in their homeland. Listen as Wampanoag people describe their pain, their fight for Native rights, and their economic and cultural survival.
Excerpt from a letter to the Governor about the overseers, June 11, 1752
"We poor Indians in Mashpee, in Barnstable county, we truly are much troubled by these English neighbors of ours being on this land of ours, and in our marsh and trees. Against our will these Englishmen take away from us what was our land. They parcel it out to each other, and the marsh along with it against our will. And as for our streams, they do not allow us peacefully to be when we peacefully go fishing. They beat us greatly, and they have houses on our land against our will."
About this Document
Good to use for middle school level and right before Thanksgiving as an extended activity.