Canku Ota

(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America

November 18, 2000 - Issue 23


Thanksgiving ... The Rest of the Story

by Vicki Lockard


Did you know that the story of Thanksgiving and the National Holiday were not created until 1863, by Pres. Lincoln, to increase patriotism during the Civil War & that Pilgrims were not even included in the story until 1890?! That was 240 years AFTER it supposedly took place!

Native Americans had observed autumnal harvest celebrations for centuries before that. After the Europeans arrived, the Natives would sometimes include them in the feasts to forge alliances.

Squanto was taken to England before the Pilgrims ever landed. And was even sold as a slave? When he finally escaped and made his way home, he discovered that his entire village had been wiped out by a plague, brought to the country by the Europeans. He greeted the Pilgrims in English and was responsible for teaching them to survive in New England.

That the Native Americans had been practicing "slash and burn" farming years before the arrival of the Europeans. Many towns, such as Springfield and Deerfield, were so named because of the acres of crops in the fields.

In 1970, the Wampanoags were asked to select someone to give a speech in honor of the 350th anniversary of the landing of the Mayflower. When Frank James submitted his speech, for review, it was rejected. Here is that speech:

"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 our way of life is almost gone, we, the Wampanoags, still walk the lands of
Massachusetts. What has happened cannot be changed. But today we work toward a better
America, a more Indian America where people and nature once again are important."

Learn More of the Truths about Thanksgiving
Not Just for Kids! A Thanksgiving Lesson Plan

The Children's Museum and Wampanoag Advisors jointly offer this website to help educators
present the history of Wampanoag people with accuracy and respect
The Children's Museum

Information on both the Pilgrims and Native Americans

Massasoit's Treaty with the Pilgrims
by Vicki Lockard

Massasoit was a chief of the Wampanoag tribe. Also known as Ousamequin, or "yellow feather," he was born about 1590 in the village of Pokanoket which was near the present-day Bristol, Rhode Island. The peace treaty which Massasoit and the Pilgrims signed on March 22, 1621 was never broken. Because of this agreement, the Wampanoag and Pilgrims lived in peaceful coexistence. Massasoit's friendship with the colonists kept the Wampanoags neutral during the Pequot War of 1636. Until his death in 1661, Massasoit remained a friend an ally of the Pilgrims.

Peace Treaty with Massasoit, 1621

  • That neither he nor any of his should injure or do hurt to any of our people.
  • And if any of his did hurt to any of ours, he should send the offender, that we might punish him.
  • That if any of our tools were taken away when our people were at work, he should cause them to be restored; and if ours did any harm to any of his, we would do the like to them.
  • If any did unjustly war against him, we would aid him; if any did war against us, he should aid us.
  • He should send to his neighbor confederates, to certify them of this, that they might not wrong us, but might be likewise comprised in the conditions of peace.
  • That when their men came to us, they should leave their bows and arrows behind them, as we should do our pieces when we came to them.
  • Lastly, that doing thus, King James would esteem of him as his friend and ally.


Find out about the Language of Native Americans of Massachusetts
Massachusetts Indian language



Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107.

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