MLES Kindergarten students gather together for the event
The Mountain Lake Public Elementary School (MLES) Kindergarten students of Kelli Tucholke and Nicole James celebrated Thanksgiving on Wednesday afternoon, November 222 before time-off from school for the holiday.
The students have been learning facts about the Wampanoag Native People (one of many Nations of people all over North America who were in America when the Europeans arrived – and the Pilgrims (who had left England to go to The Netherlands, and later sailed from Europe, landing in Plymouth Harbor, at what would become Plymouth, Massachusetts).
The story of the 1621 Thanksgiving at Plymouth, where the official first Thanksgiving took place, is best learned at Plimoth Planation.
Plimoth Plantation is a living museum, with its replica 17th century Wampanoag Homesite, a representation of the homesite used by Hobbamock, who served as emissary between the Wampanoag and Pilgrims, and staffed by 23 Native Americans, mostly Wampanoag; 17th century English Village; and the Mayflower II, a replica of the ship that brought the Pilgrims to Plymouth.
According to a Plimoth Plantation timeline, the Mayflower arrived at Plymouth Harbor on December 16, 1620. The Pilgrims settled in an area that was once Patuxet, a Wampanoag village abandoned four years prior after a deadly outbreak of a plague, brought by European traders who first appeared in the area in 1616. The museum’s literature tells that before 1616, the Wampanoag numbered 50,000 to 100,000, occupying 69 villages scattered throughout southeastern Massachusetts and eastern Rhode Island. The plague, however, killed thousands, up to two-thirds, of them. Many also had been captured and sold as slaves.
Despite that, the Wampanoag watched the Mayflower’s passengers come ashore at Patuxet, Massachusetts without fear, for they had seen many ships before, including traders and fishermen. However, they had not seen women and children being brought along before. In the Wampanoag ways, they never would have brought their women and children into harm. So, they saw them as a peaceful people for that reason.
But they did not greet them right away either. The English, in fact, did not see the Wampanoag that first winter at all.
Samoset, a Monhegan from Maine, came to the village on March 16, 1621. The next day, he returned with Tisquantum (Squanto), a Wampanoag who befriended and helped the English that spring, showing them how to plant corn, fish and gather berries and nuts. That March, the Pilgrims entered into a treaty of mutual protection with Ousamequin (Massasoit), the Pokanoket Wampanoag leader.
That first Thanksgiving, the Wampanoag and Pilgrims did not sit down for a big turkey dinner and it was not an event that the Wampanoag knew about or were invited to in advance. In September/October 1621, the Pilgrims had just harvested their first crops, and they had a good yield. They “sent four men on fowling,” which comes from the one paragraph account by Pilgrim Edward Winslow, one of only two historical sources of this harvest feast. Winslow also stated, “we exercised our arms.”
Most historians believe what happened was Massasoit got word that there was a tremendous amount of gunfire coming from the Pilgrim village, so he thought they were being attacked and he was going to help.
When the Wampanoag showed up, they were invited to join the Pilgrims in their feast, but there was not enough food to feed the chief and his 90 warriors. Massasoit sent his men out, and they brought back five deer, which they presented to the chief of the English town, William Bradford.
The harvest feast lasted for three days. They ate venison, along with all the parts of the deer in many sorts of ways, fowl (so maybe turkey), a variety of seafood and water fowl, along with maize bread, pumpkin and other squashes.
The kindergarten students, with the assistance of moms, dads – and a grandpa – made their own “turkeys,” munch popcorn and savored a piece of pumpkin pie.