“For nearly 400 years, the stories of the Mayflower, the First Thanksgiving, Plymouth Rock, the Pilgrims and countless images that supported those stories created an impression worldwide that the famous ship first landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts.” Not True.
“Mayflower arrived in Provincetown Harbor on November 11, 1620 after 67 days at sea, and was anchored here for thirty-five days. It was in Provincetown Harbor, before the Pilgrims set foot on land, where the Mayflower Compact was written and signed, and it was Provincetown Harbor that three discovery voyages aboard the shallop were taken to locations in Cape Cod and ultimately Plymouth.” Cape Code National Seashore, National Park
Like Cristobal Columbus, these foreigners were lost. They were hungry, desperate, and without hope of finding land when they chanced upon the land of the Wampanoag.
So the real story of the Pilgrims started with lies, half-truths and theft that is not told in the textbooks today.
Truth. With this very first step on the North American soil, the Pilgrims stole food from the Wampanoag that was stored for the winter months. “There was a heap of sand, newly done, we might see how they had paddled it with their hands – which we digged up, and in it we found a little old basket full of fair Indian corn, and digged further and found a fine great new basket full of very fair corn of the year, with some thirty-six goodly ears of corn, some yellow, and some red, and other mixed with blue, which was a goodly sight.” _ Mourt’s Relation A Journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth, 1622.
This stored corn was intended to support Wampanoag families through the winter months. Were they able to survive without this stored corn?
The Wampanoag knew that strangers had landed on their shores and watched, waited without being seen. The unsealing of stored corn was not acceptable so the warriors attempted to protect their food. “One of our company, being abroad, came running in and cried, ‘They are men! Indians! Indians! And withal, their arrows came flying amongst us… and called this place, The First Encounter.”
The Pilgrims whitewashed this story by explaining away the theft, “When they returned the Pilgrims took as much corn as they could carry back to the Mayflower to use the next spring as seed. Unsure what to do, they recorded that if they could find the people who buried the corn, they would “parley with them, …and satisfy them for their corn.”
So began the true history of the theft of more than corn. The theft of Wampanoag lands, culture and history followed soon after. No amends for this wrong has ever been recorded for the Wampanoag. Today, thousands of travelers are risking their lives in this pandemic based on the false narrative of Thanksgiving.
Truth. For a full history of this first encounter, I recommend reading, This Land is Their Land, by David J. Silverman. The Truth is uncomfortable but necessary.