We return thanks to our mother, the earth, which sustains us.
Native Traditions of Giving Thanksby Linda Coombs, Associate Director Wampanoag Indian Program
American custom of giving thanks did not begin with the arrival of European
colonists. Spirituality was (and is) a deeply sacred and personal part of
Wampanoag life. Everything is sacred, and giving thanks for the Creator’s
gifts is an integral part of daily life. From ancient times up to the present
day, the Native people of North America have held ceremonies to give thanks
for successful harvests and other good fortune. According to the oral
information of tribal elders, giving thanks was the primary reason for
ceremonies or feasts.
Giving thanks was an important part of the celebrations, called Nickommo, which are still held by the Wampanoag. Give-away ceremonies, feasting, dancing and sports and games were common features of these occasions. Give-away ceremonies show gratefulness to the Creator who provides for the people and makes possible the blessings celebrated. The act of giving away material things shows respect and caring for others, while reminding the participants that material objects are only secondary to one’s spiritual life.
Thankfulness was woven into every aspect of Wampanoag life. If an animal was hunted for food, special thanks were also given to the Creator and to the spirit of the animal. If a plant was harvested and used for any purpose, or a bird or a fish, if an anthill was disrupted, gratitude and acknowledgement were given for the little ones’ lives. To this day it is the same with most Native people.
Appreciation can make a day--even change a life,|
Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary.
- Margaret Cousins
|I appreciate and give thanks for the many blessings that happen within my life on a daily basis, small or large; it doesn’t matter, as all blessings are important.|
wish you a cozy fire to keep you warm |
Protection from all harm
I wish you peace that flows from within
A reason not to frown but to grin
A home that filled with love
and showered with blessings from above
they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the Lord;
because he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever toward Israel. And all the
people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the Lord, because the
foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. Ezra3:11 |
Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High: Psalms 50:14
I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving. Psalms 69:30
Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. Psalms 95:2
Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.
Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence
Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made
us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
would not interfere with any creed of yours or want to appear that I have all
the cures. There is so much to know...so many things are true. The way my feet
must go may not be best for you. And so I give this spark of what is light to
me, to guide you through the dark, but not tell you what you must see."
- Author Unknown
"The First Thanksgiving"
Thanksgiving and the Pilgrims seem to go together but the
truth is, the Pilgrims never held an autumnal Thanksgiving feast. Take a look
at the origin of that particular myth.|
The feast held by the Pilgrims in 1621, after their first harvest, which people often refer to as "The First Thanksgiving", was never repeated. To these devoutly religious people, a day of thanksgiving was a day of prayer and fasting, held any time that they felt an extra day of thanks was called for.
We assume that the harvest feast was eaten outside, since the Colonists didn't have a building large enough to accommodate all the people who came. It's probable that turkey (roasted but not stuffed) and pumpkin in some form, found their way to the table. Native People were definitely among the invited guests. The feast was described in a first-hand account by Edward Winslow in Mourt's Relation.
This account tells us that the feast went on for three days. Ninety "Indians" attended and provided venison. And there was enough wild fowl (including ducks, geese, turkeys and swans) to supply the village for a week.
Additional information can be obtained from the resources listed under the museums page
The first time that all 13 colonies joined in a thanksgiving celebration was in October of 1777and was a one-time affair. After a 40-year campaign of writing editorials and letters to governors and presidents, President Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November as a national day of Thanksgiving in 1863.
then Thanksgiving was proclaimed by every president. The date was changed a couple of times,
but public uproar against this decision
caused the move back to its original date. In 1941, Thanksgiving was finally sanctioned by Congress as a legal
holiday, as the fourth Thursday in November.
Timeline of American Thanksgiving Holiday
The Mayflower Compact 1620|
-- in the original and modern style
The Peace Treaty with Massasoit 1621
-- and an etching of the ceremony
The First Thanksgiving Proclamation 1676
The 1782 Continental Congress Thanksgiving Proclamation
-- and a photocopy of the original document
George Washington's 1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation
-- the "lost" document
Abraham Lincoln's 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation
A First Thanksgiving Lesson Plan
-- and link to Caleb Johnson's Factual Rebuttal
Thanksgiving Graces and Psalms
-- family favorites, traditional, and some especially for children
The True Thanksgiving Story by Dennis Rupert
A Virtual Tour of Plimoth Plantation and Hobbamock's Homesite
The Thanksgiving Tradition and much more from Plimoth-on-Web
A little Plymouth History of people and events
Index of Native American Resources on the Internet
A history of Thanksgiving Traditions, USA
Cranberry Sauce and Pumpkin Pie, A Christian Thanksgiving homily