What Really Happened at the First Thanksgiving? There have been a lot of articles based on what we have learned through the years to recreate what that may have been like. But there are a lot of myths shuffled in and they need to be discussed too.
I was so disappointed to find out that no one actually landed at Plymouth Rock. It’s a boulder that has taken on historical significance where none exists. There is no evidence that the Pilgrims landed there. The rock has also been moved. Nothing exists in William Bradford’s (one of the founders of the Plymouth colony) account of the Mayflower landing to indicate anything about a boulder. The ship did land in Plymouth Harbor, but it was in 1741 that the boulder was identified as “the place” of the landing – 121 years after landing at the rock didn’t take place.
You can read about it here. So about that feast: The story we hear as to what occurred is based on two eye witness accounts.
102 Pilgrims had landed in Plymouth in December 1620. Apparently the intent was to sail farther south, but those plans had been dashed because of stormy seas. During that winter, the passengers and crew lived on board the Mayflower.
Only 53 passengers and about half of the crew survived that winter. In 1621 the passengers moved on to land. The local tribe, the Wampanoags taught the pilgrims how to efficiently hunt, fish, grow corn, beans and squash. Without that help those pilgrims would have surely perished. After a successful growing season that summer, the first Thanksgiving celebration took place in November of 1621.
According to those accounts, venison was apparently the main protein served. It was brought by the Wampanoags, among others including fish and wild turkeys. There were about 140 people present, 50 of which were Englishman. They are believed to have celebrated that first successful harvest by playing games. The games included engaging in foot races, and shooting at targets.
What transpired is more about two cultures-the Wampanoag and the Pilgrim’s sharing a meal together and peacefully coexisting, than about what type of food they ate, which supposedly went on for three days. The Wampanoag helped those early settlers survive over the following many years.
Had they had any insight as to what was to come – a lot more people – I suspect they would have rethought their hospitality. How would you respond to your neighbors inviting themselves over to eat and moving in afterwards? This link has a more detailed account of the festivities..
I wonder what this continent would be like today had no one else but the people from Asia near Lake Baikal ever set foot here. It is from areas near that place that most of the ice age migrants, likely following game, found their way here, to North America. There were more than one migration and those that came later are the ancestors of the Native Americans of today.
I suspect that just as we found the Tasaday tribe, the indigenous people of the Philippine island of Mindanao living conditions that vanished in Western Civilization thousands of years ago, North American life would look much as it did prior to the arrival of the settlers – pristine wilderness, and peoples with tribal cultures.
There is an academic organization “The Center for the Study if the First Americans” that studies those ancient people.
What are your thoughts on the first Thanksgiving and all the hundreds that have come after it?