After a harsh winter, the Pilgrims had their first formal contact with the indigenous when on March 16, 1621 an Native American walked boldly into the middle of Plymouth Colony and declared in English, "Welcome, Englishmen!" He also asked if they had any beer! His name was Samoset, a subordinate chief of the Abenaki tribe in Maine, and he was was visiting Chief Massasoit of the Wampanoags. Samoset had learned English from English fishermen that came to fish off the coast of Maine. From Samoset, the colonists learned about the plague that had wiped out the Indians where they had established Plymouth Colony. After spending the night in the settlement, he came back two days later with Tisquantum, better known today as Squanto.
23 November 2010
He spoke even better English than Samoset due to more unfortunate circumstances. Squanto had previously been captured several times by Englishmen. The last time he was sold into slavery for £20 in Spain but fortunately for him, he was taken by some local friars in order to be instructed in the Christian faith. He escaped to London where he lived for several years and participated in an expedition of the North American sea coast. Finally in 1619 he returned to his homeland in Maine only to discover that his tribe had been killed off by plague. He then went to Wampanoags and finally settled with the Pilgrims. He and Samoset would be the liason between the Pilgrims and the Chief Massasoit of the Wampanoag nation. With their assistance, they established formal peace treaty between the two peoples.
For the Pilgrims, Tisquantum (or Squanto) was a Godsend. He helped them to recover from the harsh winter teaching them how to plant crops in the New World and where to best catch fish and eels. Around October of 1621 after a fruitful harvest thanks to the help of the Wampanoags, they held "The First Thanksgiving." The colonists didn't refer to this celebration as Thanksgiving because it was more of a harvest festival. For Puritans, thanksgiving was a day of prayer and worship, not revelry. The first real thankgiving was in 1623 with the arrival of new supplies and colonists from England. What Americans really celebrate today is rooted in the European harvest festival tradition.
Interesting links to learn more:
Posted by Joseph BOËN, formateur d'anglais et coordonateur pour les formations en anglais au Greta Nord Alsace, HAGUENAU France on Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Labels: American holidays, British history, festival, Native Americans, pilgrims, Puritan New England, religion, Thanksgiving, US history, US holidays