Monday, November 21, 2011

history lesson: The Pilgrims & Wampanoags

Just like the first day of school, I figured I would start this new blog with a Monday morning history lesson. Yes, this is supposed to be a design blog but design is inspired by so many different things. Design is not just about the material things that look, feel, sound, smell & taste beautiful. It is influenced by history, culture and tradition, all of which are things that I want to learn and be passionate about.

As we are almost on the eve of Thanksgiving, it is only fitting that we start with the story of the Pilgrims and Native Americans or, as they prefer, the Native People. We all know that the Pilgrims came on the Mayflower and settled in Plymouth. But how much do we know about the Wampanoags who taught them how to farm? Here are some of the very interesting things about the "Eastern People" or "People of the Dawn".

Wampanoags inhabited the land that is now known as Massachusetts and Rhode Island, including Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard. Wampanoags moved seasonally to fixed locations and lived in wetus (also known as wigwams) made of bark in the shape of domes. These structures were built and taken apart within a couple of hours to simplify moving. Strict boundaries were set for hunting and land was passed on matrilineally, mothers to their female descendants, regardless of marital status.
The Wampanoag diet consisted mainly of what they refer to as the "three sisters"--corn, beans and squash--along with fish and game. The first Thanksgiving menu included lobster, swans and seal! While the feast shared together in 1621 is known as the First Thanksgiving, both the English and Native People have celebrated the tradition of thanksgiving before then.

The peace treaty between the two groups was only honored until Massoit's death, the sachem or leader of the Wampanoag.

a wetu on the Wampanoag homesite on the Plimouth Plantation

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