Hosted by The Marblehead museum
Tuesday, November 30th at 7:00 pm via Zoom
Ahead of the 400th anniversary of the first Thanksgiving, a new look at the Plymouth colony’s founding events, told for the first time with Wampanoag people at the heart of the story.
In March 1621, when Plymouth’s survival was hanging in the balance, the Wampanoag sachem (or chief), Ousamequin (Massasoit), and Plymouth’s governor, John Carver, declared their people’s friendship for each other and a commitment to mutual defense. Later that autumn, the English gathered their first successful harvest and lifted the specter of starvation. Ousamequin and 90 of his men then visited Plymouth for the “First Thanksgiving.” The treaty remained operative until King Philip’s War in 1675, when 50 years of uneasy peace between the two parties would come to an end.
400 years after that famous meal, historian David J. Silverman sheds profound new light on the events that led to the creation, and bloody dissolution, of this alliance. Focusing on the Wampanoag Indians, Silverman deepens the narrative to consider tensions that developed well before 1620 and lasted long after the devastating war-tracing the Wampanoags’ ongoing struggle for self-determination up to this very day.
This unsettling history reveals why some modern Native people hold a Day of Mourning on Thanksgiving, a holiday which celebrates a myth of colonialism and white proprietorship of the United States. This Land is Their Land shows that it is time to rethink how we, as a pluralistic nation, tell the history of Thanksgiving.
About the speaker
David J. Silverman (Ph.D., Princeton, 2000) specializes in Native American, Colonial American, and American racial history. His most recent book is This Land is Their Land: The Wampanoag Indians, Plymouth Colony, and the Troubled History of Thanksgiving, published by Bloomsbury in 2019. He is also the author of Thundersticks: Firearms and the Violent Transformation of Native America (Cambridge, MA., 2016); Red Brethren: The Brothertown and Stockbridge Indians and the Problem of Race in Early America (Ithaca, 2010), and Faith and Boundaries: Colonists, Christianity, and Community among the Wampanoag Indians of Martha’s Vineyard, 1600-1871 (New York, 2005), and co-author of Ninigret, the Niantic and Narragansett Sachem: Diplomacy, War, and the Balance of Power in Seventeenth-Century New England and Indian Country (Ithaca, 2014). His essays have won major awards from the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture and the New York Association of History.