Nov 23 2014

Sunday Seven Foods from the First Thanksgiving

Sunday Seven image

A list of seven of something- brought to you on Sunday. What can you add?


The Wampanoag people took pity on the sick, starving pale-faced people that had settled on their land. There had been rumors from distant tribes to the south of pale people who came in oversized canoes and committed monstrous acts. The rumored ones took many people away. These pale-faced people were not (yet) taking people away. They were building funny houses. They brought women and children with them. This was a new tribe of neighbors. Unlike other tribes, these people were unaware of territories. In a strange custom, they simply decided that wherever they landed was theirs; even if they had no idea what to do once they got there. It became obvious one early winter that they would all die if nothing were done.


It seemed right to help them. Being one of the more peaceful tribes, the Wampanoag people respected life. It was decided that kindness would shown to these strangers. The rumors were dismissed. After all, perhaps these people would be reasonable once they were fed. (Spoiler alert— The Wampanoag people were virtually wiped out through slavery and biological warfare. Approximately half the tribe was dead within twenty years of the first Thanksgiving. Nearly all of the other half was dead within the next two hundred years. The last known member to speak their language died over a century ago.)


Please note that this is how the story was told to me by my Lenni-Lenape ancestors. Your history books may vary.


To the Lenni-Lenape, the Turkey is one of our totem animals (along with the wolf and the turtle). It is improbable that my people would have served turkey. But did the Wampanoag people? That’s a good question. I’ve heard people say that they must have, because how else did they get the feathers for the headdresses?




Seriously, it’s 2014. Can we stop pretending that the Sioux were the only tribe on this continent? I’ve seen heated debates over anyone other than Christian Louboutin putting red on the bottom of shoe, but a majority of people still think that every freakin tribe was wearing a feathered headdress. Come on now. The Wampanoag people had beaded headbands. They might have added one or two feathers occasionally for some flair, but it’s nothing like what the Sioux had going on.


Also debated is who decided to throw this little dinner party, which was actually a feast meant to last for several days. I’ve seen history books suggesting that the colonists were the ones doing the inviting. My ancestors passed on a different story. From what they told me, I can give you a list of seven things that would have been eaten at the first Thanksgiving. (Sorry, my ancestors never mentioned eating a turkey.)


  1. Maize (corn – see my foodie post from Nov 2, 2014)
  2. Squash
  3. Beans
  4. Deer (all edible parts, not just the venison meat you might know)
  5. Lobster
  6. Clams
  7. Berries


Note that the first three are what non-nomadic tribes, such as the Wampanoag people and the Lenni-Lenape, commonly called the trinity. When planted together, these three help each other to grow, resulting in a more productive harvest.


Cranberry sauce seems unlikely. They were bitter berries more commonly used for medicine or dye. However, some foods did include their use.


Pumpkin is a kind of squash. It very well might have been served. It is doubtful that it was baked into a pie though.


Thanksgiving clam


1 comment

  1. great article buddy.. happy thanksgiving day in advance

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