Plimoth Plantation Thanksgiving Chat, Part 3

Read Part 3 of Scholastic's chat between students, a modern-day Manomet Plymouth Wampanoag Native American, and a young Pilgrim from the Plimoth Plantation in Massachusetts.

  • Grades: 1–2, 3–5, 6–8

Plimoth Plantation Chat 

Be sure to see Part 1 and Part 2 of this Thanksgiving chat.

Scholastic hosted a chat between students, a modern-day Manomet Plymouth Wampanoag Native American named Randy Joseph, and a Pilgrim interpreter named Patience Morton. For Patience, it is the year 1627 and she is 12 years old. Both Randy and Patience spoke to us from the Plimoth Plantation in Massachusetts. Here is Part 3 of the transcript.


Plimoth_Plantation:Hello everyone! Randy Joseph and Patience Morton are here and looking forward to answering your questions.

_Seekers_: What kind of medicine did they have back then?

Scholastic_Admin: We'll have our answer in just a moment. Keep sending questions!

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: They were plenty of medicines to treat the common cold. We didn't have diseases. For example, you could use pine sap for colds, mixed with mint tea.

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: You can use staghorn sumac. When you boil it it is high in vitamin c. You can use the gland of a skunk mixed with other stuff for arthritis.

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: Herbs grown in our kitchen gardens are used to make medicine. We have mint and sage, thyme and hyssop. We make drinks called infusions where you you boil the herb in water and strain it and drink it. Other medicines called conserves that you need sugar to mix with. The sugar we had to bring with us from England.

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: We also have a man in town who is a barber surgeon. He has a surgeons chest to use if you need a tooth pulled or your blood let.

_presubmitted_questions_: My students would like to know what you talked about while you were eating the first Thanksgiving.

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: A day of Thanksgiving to my church, is a day of prayer and fasting. In the harvest feast of the first fall (1621) our men were talking about the country and the crops. And getting prepared for the winter.

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: We don't know the content of what was spoken about during the 1621 harvest festival. We do know that our relationship with the English was still in good status because in the spring of that year we signed a treaty of mutual protection with the English.

_djts_: Why would you have your blood let?

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: If your bodies humors are out of balance. We have four different humors (fluids) in our bodies. You can keep those in balance by what you eat and what types of medicines you use. If they get too much out of balance you have to have your blood let.

_runtigerrun_: Why did you come to the United States from England?

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: I was born in the United States of the Netherlands. There aren't any United States in America! My family did come to America for our church.

_Julie0118_: Why weren't the pilgrims allowed to pray in their own way?

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: Our church wasn't the national church of England, so we were going against the King's church. That is against the law.

_runtigerrun_: Randy what area, in the current United States, were you born in?

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: I was born here in Plymouth.

_runtigerrun_: What was a regular everyday meal like for the Native Americans?

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: Us men would eat early in the morning, then go out hunting or fishing. We'd come home about 11 or noon. The woman would always have something cooking in the cook area. In the afternoon we would work on the houses or different crafts. In the evening we would eat together, and tell stories, and play games.

_djts_: Did the Wampanoag cook in their homes and how did the smoke get out if you did?

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: Yes, we did cook in our homes when it was raining or snowing. We have a smoke flap above the fire facing the same direction as the wind so that the smoke doesn't flow back inside the home.

_swanalina_: What kind of language did the native americans speak?

Scholastic_Admin: Our answer is coming soon. These are great questions! Keep asking them.

Plimoth_Plantation: Algonquion. There are many tribes that speak Algonquion. As far away as the Kickapoo in Texas.

_presubmitted_questions_: How long did it take for the pilgrims to cook a big meal? How would they have cooked it?

Plimoth_Plantation: Pilgrims. A housewife would start cooking dinner at about 10 in the morning, so we could eat our dinner at noon. It depends on what is being cooked. If you roast ducks, turkeys or geese, that takes longer that boiling fish or clams.

_djts_: How did either the Pilgrims or the Wampanoag keep food from getting spoiled?

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: We sundried and smoked our shellfish and fish for the winter. We dried our berries and stored our nuts in large bags. Large animals in the winter, moose, elk, deer, we would hang up in a tree and cut meat off it when needed.

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: We salt fish for the winter time. We salt our bacons. All of our harvest is gotten in and dried. We dry herbs from the garden so we can have them in the winter time. Some things we store in brine. Our ducks and geese and turkeys we would eat within a few days before they go bad.

_Julie0118_: Did the pilgrims or indians celebrate Christmas?

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy. No.

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: In the English church in England, they celebrate Christmas. The church that I am in, does not celebrate Christmas.

_runtigerrun_: How much food were you able to carry with you on the Mayflower?

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: We had enough provisions to make the passage and to last another three to four months in New England. Also, the sailors needed provisions to get back to England. When we were in Southampton, England, we had to pay a debt so we had to sell some of our supplies. We sold 4300 pounds of butter to be able to leave port.

_djts_: Wasn't it dangerous to have lamps or cook food on the ship?

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: There is a part of the ship called the forecastle where the furnace is. There is a cook who is part of the crew of sailors who would cook food for the passengers. But it would be dangerous to just walk about the ship with a candle because there is gunpowder on the ship, and the ship is made from wood. Fire has to be contained in a lantern for light and the furnace for cooking.

Scholastic_Admin: What kind of bedtime stories did parents read or tell their children?

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: We didn't have books. We had stories that came from our oral traditions, which would be the history of the tribe. But we also had stories about the animals, plants, Father Sky and Mother Earth.

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: My mother often sings to me at night. And she tells me stories of England, of where she grew up and all the fairs that she had gone to as a child.

_lilpilgrim_: What types of entertainment such as music or games was common?

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: Singing psalms is very common. When I sing psalms I often sing with other girls my age. I sing when we are working. I like the song about the three blind mice! Sometimes we play stoolball and 9 pins.

_runtigerrun_: Did you stop the Mayflower to sleep? What type of music did you play?

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: We had games such as stick ball, football, wrestling, gambling games, running races. We had social songs and we had honor songs. We had different dances such as the mosquito dance, the rabbit dance and the alligator dance.
Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: On the ocean, the only time a ship would stop is if you were becalmed (when you don't have any wind) or you are near port and are going to anchor. The passengers on the Mayflower slept some in cabins, and some with just beds on the deck, and some in the shallop that we had with us in our deck. We sang songs on the Mayflower. We do have a drum and a trumpet but we didn't use them on the Mayflower. We use them in town.

_julie0118_: Did the pilgrims go swimming?

Plimoth_Plantation: No, never!

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: Although for some gentleman in England, it is a recreation for them.

_swanalina_: did you have swings?

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: I've never had one.

_presubmitted_questions_: How can we be sure that Thanksgiving actually happened? Wasn't it not declared as a national holiday until the 1800's?

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: The 1621 Harvest celebration is the closest thing between two cultures sharing food. It wasn't named "The First Thanksgiving" until the 1800s. There is one eyewitness account that describes what happened in the fall of 1621. We think it was written by Edward Winslow.

_julie0118_: How many people lived in Plymouth?

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: Now, in the year 1627, there are about nine score.

_julie0118_: was there really a baby born in the mayflowers?

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: Yes. Oceanus Hopkins was born on the voyage. Peregrine White was born while the ship was anchored at the tip of Cape Cod.

_HighlandHuskies_: Why did the pilgrims and Native Americans decide to have the first Thanksgiving?

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: The Native People heard gun shots and arrived at Plymouth Colony with 90 warriors. From that point the Natives stayed for three days. Massasoit sent five warriors to bring back five deer. We don't know what talks between both peoples happened, but we do know that their relationship lasted for the next 40 years.

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: Patience: My uncle, the governor, wanted to rejoice in a special manner after getting in the first harvest. This is like unto a harvest feast that we would have in England after we had a good harvest.

_presubmitted_questions_: What are some of the contributions American Indians have made?

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: We let the Pilgrims stay!

_presubmitted_questions_: What challenges do Native Americans face today?

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: Challenges such as re-educating people on the hurtful myths and stereotypes of who Native People are and who they are supposed to be. Since the begining of time, we have told people who came from far away how to care for the land and how we don't own the land. And now look what we have today. Global warming.

_djts_: What was worn to keep your feet warm?

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: We would insulate our mocassins with smaller animal furs like rabbit, mink, muskrat. Also, the bottom of the mocassin would be rubbed with animal fat.

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: I wear a few pairs of wool hosen in the winter time. Sometimes I will put wool or straw in my shoes.
_HighlandHuskies_: What kinds of crime did they have to deal with?

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: Theft, adultery.

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: There have been men in our town who have stolen corn at a time when the town was on rations. They would plant with us during the day and steal our corn at night. There have been men who have dueled each other, which is against the law. There was a man who tried to attack Miles Standish, our military captain.

_HighlandHuskies_: What kinds of customs are specific to the Wampanoag?

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: We have ceremonies that go along with the seasons, to make a complete circle of the 365 days in a year.

_runtigerrun_: How many people were on the Mayflower? How many people survived the trip?

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: There were 102 passengers and about 25 sailors. One sailor died who had been very mean to us and used to yell at us down through the hatches. He said that when we died he was going to throw us in the ocean and take all of our provisions and make merry with our provisions. But he sickened with a grievous illness and died first. A boy named William Button died a week before we sighted Cape Cod. He had been a servant to Master John Carver. It was through the winter that many of the deaths...

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: occurred.

_runtigerrun_: Did / do you sell your crops to others?

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: Sometimes we would have to go to other Native villages on the coast to see if we could trade for some of their corn. This was in the first few years of our village when we didn't have much corn.

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: No, we didn't. But we had Native People from eastern Canada, the Micmac, come down to steal our corn.

_HighlandHuskies_: What holidays did you celebrate?

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: We don't keep the same holidays as they do in the English Church in England. We do celebrate gunpowder plot day. That was a time when in England a group of men tried to blow up Parliament and our king. They were stopped. We do keep our Sabbath and Days of Humiliation and Days of Thanksgiving.

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: We celebrate spring as our New Year. We celebrate the begining of summer with our Strawberry Thanksgiving. We have our Green Corn Thanksgiving in August. We have a ceremony for the Winter Solstice. And several socials throughout the year with different communities.

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: There are some in town who are not members of our congregation. They will keep some of the English holidays, like Christmas, in their homes.

_presubmitted_questions_: What dangers did the Pilgrims and the Native Americans face during the 1620s?

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: We didn't face any danger, except what happened to us in the future. As for land being taken and for being shipped out to the Caribbean as slaves, and to this present day we are still picking up the pieces from 400 years of history.
Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: There is always the danger of our harvest failing. Wild animals. Not getting a supply ship.

_djts_: How big were Pilgrim families?

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: However many children God would let you have! There are five children in my family now.

_presubmitted_questions_: Who taught you how to hunt, fish, and plant crops? How much food can you get from doing those things?

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: Five or more people in the family. You would also have extended families which made up clans.

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: The elders, aunties, uncles, fathers. You take enough for what you need to feed your family, nothing more. So you don't deplete the natural resources that the Great Creator has given us to live a healthy, successful life.

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: When we arrived, maize was a new crop to us, and we were helped by Squanto who showed us how to plant it and dress it. He also showed us how to get eels out of the river banks in the wintertime. Some of the men amongst us already know how to hunt and plant crops like wheat and rye. Some of our men were merchants back in England and had never planted crops before.

Scholastic_Admin: What a great chat! Thanks for all the excellent questions and the fascinating answers. Randy and Patience, would you each like to add one more Thanksgiving thought before we go?

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: Happy Thanksgiving!

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: Be grateful for all that you have.

  • Subjects:
    Social Studies, Native American History, Early Exploration and Settlements, Colonial and Revolutionary America, Civics and Government, Communities and Ways of Life, Historic Figures, Wars and Military, Individuals, Groups, Institutions, Thanksgiving