This Land Is Their Land: The Wampanoag Indians, Plymouth Colony, and the Troubled History of Thanksgiving

David J. Silverman. Bloomsbury, $30 (528p) ISBN 978-1-63286-924-1
George Washington University history professor Silverman (Thundersticks) deconstructs the “Thanksgiving myth” in this revealing study of the 1621 gathering at Plymouth colony between Puritan colonists and Wampanoag Indians that inspired the holiday. A confederation of local tribes, the Wampanoag had recently been decimated by an infectious disease brought by Europeans (Wampanoags credited the epidemic to supernatural causes) and were under threat from their rivals, the Narragansett. Wampanoag chief Ousamequin entered into a “mutual defense pact” with the Pilgrims, Silverman writes, and brought 90 men to the colonists’ fall harvest celebration in order to help cement the agreement. But an influx of settlers in the decades following the 1629 establishment of Massachusetts Bay Colony led to increased tensions and occasional outbursts of violence between natives and Pilgrims, setting the stage for King Philip’s War in 1675. That brutal conflict shifted the balance of power in the region so dramatically, Silverman notes, that the Wampanoag were nearly wiped out over the next two centuries. Silverman sketches the Wampanoag story up to the present day, giving voice to such tribal activists as Frank James, who declared Thanksgiving a “National Day of Mourning” in 1970. This lucidly written and convincingly argued account of the most “American” of traditions deserves to be read widely. (Nov.)
Reviewed on : 08/27/2019
Release date: 11/05/2019
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 528 pages - 978-1-63286-925-8
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