Will’s Culture Corner: November 2023 Edition

By Will Kawalec

This November I will be diving into the event most synonymous with the month, Thanksgiving. As a historian specializing in American history, there are few topics in elementary education that are taught incorrectly more often than Thanksgiving.

Factual education about this event is something that is needed, and it is my hope to set the record straight, for children and adults alike! I will provide some key facts and fictions of Thanksgiving, though to understand the real history I will attach some key resources for parents or caregivers to check out! With this brief background it is my hope that readers will receive a foundational education in the real history of Thanksgiving.


•Thanksgiving was a 3-day feast, between English colonists and the Wampanoag people, who were native to Eastern Massachusetts.   
•The colonists were seeking money and wealth, while some were religious outcasts looking to practice their faith.
•Wampanoag people already had many interactions with Europeans, at least two Wampanoag’s spoke English prior to the arrival of the Mayflower.  
•The Wampanoag were devastated by diseases before the Mayflower anchored.  
•The Wampanoag were enemies with the Narragansett peoples and fought for control of Eastern Massachusetts.  
•Wampanoag partnered with the colonists because of necessity, for they wanted to help secure their territorial claims as disease (from Europeans) decimated their communities.
•The Wampanoag taught the English settlers how to farm and cultivate local crops and wildlife.  

•The Wampanoag gave up their land to the colonists, on the contrary, they assisted the colonists in their survival, and allied with them out of necessity.  Eventually losing their land during King Philips War years later.  
•Indigenous Peoples didn’t understand land as property. That statement is false.
•Turkey was the main item for the feast, False, although turkey and duck were present, deer was the most prevalent food item at the feast.  


Harvest Study Guide
Thanksgiving Booklet
5 Ideas to Teach Thanksgiving

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