Harvest Ceremony: Beyond the Thanksgiving Myth: The Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of the American Indian
This lesson was originally developed by Johanna Gorelick, education manager at the George Gustav Heye Center of the National Museum of the American Indian, and has been adapted for this publication by Genevieve Simermeyer. the museum's school programs manager in Washington, D.C. Special thanks to Linda Coombs, associate director of Plimoth Plantation's Wampanoag Indigenous Program in Plymouth, Massachusetts, for her contributions.
Level: High School
Teachers: Have students read the below essay and use the Classroom Discussion Topics to stimulate dialogue about the reading. These topics can be extended to encompass more comprehensive research projects.
Summary: Native American people who first encountered the "pilgrims" at what is now Plymouth, Massachusetts, play a major role in the imagination of American people today. Contemporary celebrations of the Thanksgiving holiday focus on the idea that the "first Thanksgiving" was a friendly gathering of two disparate groups--or even neighbors--who shared a meal and lived harmoniously. In actuality, the assembly of these people had much more to do with political alliances, diplomacy, and an effort at temporary peaceful coexistence. Although Native American people have always given thanks for the world around them, the Thanksgiving celebrated today is more a combination of Puritan religious practices and the European festival called Harvest Home, which then grew to encompass Native foods.
The First People
In 1620, the area from Narragansett Bay in eastern Rhode Island to the Atlantic Ocean in southeastern Massachusetts, including Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket, was the home of the Wampanoag. Although culturally, politically, religiously, and economically similar to the Narragansett people to the west, Wampanoags did not speak the same language and considered the Narragansett their traditional enemies.
The Wampanoag practiced agriculture and followed a seasonal round of gardening and fishing near the coast in spring and summer, moving to sheltered inland …
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Publication information: Article title: Harvest Ceremony: Beyond the Thanksgiving Myth: The Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of the American Indian. Contributors: Not available. Journal title: Social Education. Volume: 70. Issue: 7 Publication date: November-December 2006. Page number: 411+. © 2008 National Council for the Social Studies. COPYRIGHT 2006 Gale Group.
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