Mount Hope Farm and the First Thanksgiving

Unraveling the History of

Mount Hope Farm and the First Thanksgiving

History is replete with many stories about the first Thanksgiving … some truth, some myth.

One fact that is verifiable is that there is a close tie between the Pokanoket Tribe, which has occupied Mount Hope lands for 10,000 years, and the first harvest celebrated by the colonists in Plymouth, MA.

At the center of the 1621 harvest feast was Massasoit Ousamequin, the “great leader” of the Pokanoket, who had traveled from his home here on Mount Hope lands and the land of Sowams (our East Bay region) with 90 of his men to join the Pilgrims. The Pokanoket was the headship tribe of a Nation to which more than 60 tribes, bands and clans throughout New England gave allegiance.

Thanksgiving had long been deeply rooted within the Pokanoket Tribe. Still today, the Tribe acknowledges a Thanksgiving every month tied to the phases of the moon.

Thus, joining the Pilgrims to celebrate their first harvest was not unusual. In fact, it was the Pokanoket that helped the colonists survive in and cultivate this new land, although, as time passed, the relationship severely disintegrated.

Despite the support of the Pokanoket, the feast four hundred years ago was attended by a much-depleted group of Pilgrims who were far outnumbered at the harvest table by Native Americans. History tells us that only about 50 colonists were on hand as nearly half the original Pilgrims had perished during a harsh first winter marked by an epidemic.

The history of Mount Hope Farm and our entire Sowams is enriched by the history of the Pokanoket nation, and we all have much to learn and share about the first Thanksgiving. To help unravel the myths surrounding Thanksgiving and to learn from our Pokanoket tribal friends, Mount Hope Farm invites you to join us for our 400th Anniversary of Thanksgiving event November 7. Learn more by linking here.