Websites with more information * Thanksgiving Books for Children
Schools and history texts perpetuate the myth of the first Thanksgiving, where white settlers thanked the Indians for their help with a huge feast. In truth, it was the Native people who made a habit of thanks, not the settlers who tended to respond to generosity with treachery. Historically, our Thanksgiving holiday could just as easily be celebrating the beginning of mistrust and broken treaties instead of a turning point in survival in the New World.
Native People had been living here for some 10,000 years. They had developed a peaceful working confederacy, cultivated the land, and developed a canoe that could out-maneuver any small European boat. Most importantly for the Europeans, the Indians practiced a good neighbor "golden rule" policy, offering the settlers help, teaching them about the local foods, and giving them corn when newly planted crops had failed.
At the first Thanksgiving dinner, the Indians provided most of the food. They showed up with 90 guests, to the dismay of the Pilgrim community, and then proceeded to supply the party with five deer and other items. So the main entrée was likely venison, not turkey, and there was surely no pumpkin pie in sight. While there are records of this feast, there is no mention of thanks from the settlers to the Indians. It is certainly worth asking what the Europeans gave the Indians in return.
Websites with more information
Thanksgiving Books for Children
- Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message, by Chief Jake Swamp, presents an ancient Iroquois message of profound thanks in a simple manner appropriate for all ages.
- Squanto's Journey: The Story of the First Thanksgiving, by Joseph Bruchac, a beautifully illustrated first-person account from Squanto's point of view.
- 1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving
, by Catherine O'Neill Grace, was researched by the Plimoth Plantation Museum and published by National Geographic.
- Tapenum's Day: A Wampanoag Indian Boy In Pilgrim Times
, by Kate Waters. Written in first-person from a boy's point of view. This is a companion book to two others: Sarah Morton's Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Girl and Samuel Eaton's Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Boy
- Ankle Soup, by Maureen Sullivan and Alison Josephs, is not from the Native American perspective, but a whimsical rhyme told from the point of view of a French Bull Dog in Grand Central Station on Thanksgiving morning. For dog lovers and New York lovers alike.
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