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

Bloomsbury. Nov. 2019. 528p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781632869241. $30; ebk. ISBN 9781632869265. HIST
In celebration of a peace and mutual defense agreement, a Wampanoag delegation led by Ousamequin visited Plymouth during fall 1621 and celebrated what became known as Thanksgiving. In the U.S. mythology, that event was immortalized as the moment when American Indians ceded the New World to Euroamericans. To modern Wampanoag and other American Indian peoples, the day is viewed as one of mourning. Silverman (history, George Washington Univ.; Thundersticks) situates the origins of the Thanksgiving tale within the scope of Wampanoag history, beginning prior to the arrival of the Pilgrims, to illuminate why they would have allied themselves with the floundering Plymouth colony in the first place. The relationship between the Pilgrims and Wampanoag grew quickly strained, leading eventually to the devastation of the tribe during King Philip’s War in 1675. Although that event saw Wampanoag nearly erased from history, they continue to express their identity and agency to this day.
VERDICT Silverman’s reconstruction of the world of the Wampanoag provides fascinating insights for both general readers and scholars into the early years of the colonization of Massachusetts, situating not only Thanksgiving within the nation’s history but also the tragedy of King Philip’s War.

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