Plimoth Plantation Thanksgiving Chat, Part 2

Read Part 2 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 3 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 2 of the transcript.


Plimoth_Plantation: Welcome from Plimoth Plantation! Randy Joseph and Patience Morton are here to answer your questions about colonial life in the 17th century, and Wampanoag life in the past and present.

_premoderated_questions_: My students are fascinated by the Plymouth Rock. Can you tell us more about where it is located now in the museum and some interesting facts about it?

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: Plymouth Rock is located in downtown Plymouth. The most interesting thing about the rock is that we don't think the colonists actually stepped on it!

_premoderated_questions_: Why did the Pilgrims choose Virginia as their point of destination?

_premoderated_questions_: Why did the Pilgrims come to the New World?

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: Near the mouth of the Hudson River was our original destination. We hoped that being there would be close enough to Jamestown for protection if we needed it, but far enough away so that we could still maintain our own reformed church. The mouth of the Hudson is the norther part of the Virginia colony.

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: For our church, most importantly. For our King's glory. Some came more for an opportunity to improve their condition in life.

_2ndgradehighlands_: What happened when the Pilgrims first got to the New World?

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: One thing was that they stole corn from a Wampanoag storage pit, and they thanked God for giving it to them.

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: After sighting Cape Cod, the ship changed course to head down to the Hudson River. After trying to travel for half a day at least, we couldn't travel on because the weather conditions were worsening. We turned around and anchored off of Cape Cod on November 11, 1620. Some women were brought to shore to wash clothes! Then, a group of men came to shore to start exploring.

_2ndgradehighlands_: Our 2nd grade class has been learning all about Pilgrims! We would like to know about growing corn. How did the native Americans help the Pilgrims to learn to grow corn and other things in this new land?

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: By making a large hole, placing two to three herring in the hole and covering it with the leftover soil to make a large mound. After a few weeks, the herring gives the earth nitrogen so we can grow crops. When the corn is 8 to 12 inches high you plant beans.

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: My uncle says that Squanto helped teach them how to grow this new corn which we had never seen before in England. And how to gather the herring when they come up from the ocean into the brooks and use it in the hills in the fields to grow this new maize corn.

_premoderated_questions_: How many American Indians lived in America before the Pilgrims came? How many American Indians live in this country now?

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: Millions! Today, we are the smallest minority group in the country. There are over 565 nations of Native People across North America, never mind South America which has a larger amount of Native People.

_bcarrino_: How did the Wampanoag remember where they buried their corn?

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: Because you would put bark and large boulders over the opening to cover your storage pit. Also, they would be near your winter dwelling.

_Bozo07_: What did the Pilgrims build their houses?

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: First the men have to fell trees. Then they have to hew the bark off of them. Next a group of men would set the frame of the house. Women and children could gather clay from the river banks and use the clay (called daub) to make the walls. First they would have to weave sticks together (called wattle) to put the clay onto. Then men would gather reeds from the marsh (cattails, bulrush) to build the roof. In the first winter, more than one family was living in a house.

_premoderated_questions_: In the 1600s, what kinds of homes did the Wampanoag live in? How did you build these?

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: Wetu is the name for our homes. They are made from cedar saplings bending into a round dome. In spring, summer and fall the homes would be covered with cattail mats. In the winter they would be covered with bark, and would sleep several families.

_onyx101396_: How did you keep water/rain out of your houses?

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: The cattail home is waterproof because the cattails are aquatic plants and they swell when water and moisture hit them. They act like gutters on homes today. On the winter homes sheets of bark are layered like shingles.

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: The thatch that we make our roofs out of swells up with the rain and does not allow the rain to get in. Sometimes, it's very windy here and some of the thatch wil blow off. That has to be repaired or the rain will leak into your house.

_onyx101396_: Did kids in the 1600s go to school?

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: Not all children are able to go to school. We do not have a school here in New Plymouth yet. My step-father is starting to teach me my letters and some numbers.

_Bozo07_: What were the children's toys in1620?

_waialae_: How did you pop pocorn?

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: My younger brother oftentimes will run footraces and he will play 9-pins and stoolball. Some of the very young children have rattles and poppets.

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: What is popcorn? Is that a game?

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: We didn't! That's from the Walt Disney movie, Squanto. We would parch our corn which you would heat up in a hot clay pot until it turns a blackish, greyish color. The corn kernal that we have today is different from back then.

_premoderated_questions_: What different foods were there at the First Thanksgiving?

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: What we know of, fowl which is goose, turkey, ducks. We know that Massasoit sent out five warriors to shoot five deer.

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: Our thanksgivings our prayer days and fasting days, thanking God for his goodness. In the first fall our governor, my uncle, set aside a day of for a harvest feast. Some 90 Native men came amongst us. We feasted and entertained for three days!

_gunnj_: Did pilgrims have hamburgers?

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: When I lived in Holland, there were Dutch men that were called Burgers. They were some sort of government workers.

_onyx101396_: how did Native Americans make bow and arrows?

_gunnj_: Did some arrows have poisin in them?

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: You would want to use a wood with straight grains such as hickory or ash. A bow was about the length of the individual. The string was made from sinew which you can get from moose or deer. Arrows are made of stone, bone and also copper and brass which was traded with the Europeans and other Natives of the Great Lakes.

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: No. But other tribes did that, like the Cherokee. They had blow darts with poisons at the end of the arrow point.

_wildcat_: What did the pilgrims write with?

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: Quills, which are from large feathers. Swan and turkey feathers.

_2ndgradehighlands_: What was the best thing in the new land? What was the worst part abuot coming to America?

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: For my family, it is being able to practice our church freely, without persecution. The worst part is being so far away from England.

_hboyd_: Did the pigrims bring horses over on the ships?

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: No. Since I have been here, goats, pigs, cattle, hens and roosters, dogs, and sheep have been brought here. Soon I hope that we will be able to get horses here so that we can use them to pull a plow to plant our English corn the way that we are accustomed to doing.

_rhoadsh_: how did the pilgrims reacat when they first saw the indians?

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: When we saw them on Cape Cod in November, we followed them. They had gone off into the woods. Some of the men on our first ship had been to America before and had seen Native People. I think that some of us on the ship who had never seen a Native Person before were very curious.

_Julie0118_: Did the pilgrims have pets?

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: Some of our men have dogs but they are working dogs. Either guard dogs or hunting dogs.

_tuckertr_: Hey Randy is tribe still alive

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: Yes. We have eight bands of Wampanoag People. About 5,000 to 6,000 people.

_bcarrino_: How many Wanpanoag Indians lived in a village?

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: It ranged fron 100 to 3,000 in each village.

_gunnj_: Where did the indian children get their education?

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: Learning every day life. Things that people do today, such as hunting, fishing, trapping, as recreation, back in the 17th century it was a way of life.

_wildcat_: There was a war between the pilgrims and indians after Massoit died. Could you tell us more about it?

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: King Philip's War. King Philip was the son of Massasoit, named Metacomet. The war started in by more Europeans coming to the New World. From that point, land was being taken by the Commonwealth.

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: We had no concept of the ownership of land. The only way to hold on to our traditional lands was to fight to be Wampanoag.

_swanalina_: Patience: Did you come on the Mayflower?

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: No. I traveled on a ship called the Anne. We arrived on the 27th of July, 1623.

_moinel_: Where did people sleep on,in the Mayflower

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: Some had cabins that they had built. Some had just beds on the deck. And some had to sleep in our shallop that was stored in our deck with us. The sailors, depending on their rank, would sleep above us in different parts of the ship.
_djts_: If food got mouldy on the ship, how could you eat it?

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: Sometimes we had seasickness so bad, we couldn't eat at all! The ship's biscuit is stored below the gun deck where the gunpowder is stored in a room that is lined with metal to help keep it drier. If it did get moldy, you could cut off the moldy parts.

_2ndgradehighlands_: What happened to the Mayflower after it left Plimouth?

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: They Mayflower stayed all winter long, and didn't leave New Plymouth until the begining up April, 1621. It arrived back in London, England at the begining of May, 1621.

_waialae_: Did any Indian children come to the feast?

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: No.

_onyx101396_: Did you eat pumpkin pies?

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: Stewed pompion is a standing dish in New Plymouth. I have not made a pie with it.

_smile_: did you have bathtubs

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: We have bucking tubs to do laundry. I have a basin in my house that we use to wash our hands and faces. Sometimes in the summer I will go to the brook and wash myself.

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: We bathed all year round in ponds and rivers.

_swanalina_: Did any of the pilgrims wear native american clothes?

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: No. It would seem very different to me to not wear a petticoat and a waistcoat. We trade with the Native People to get beaver pelts from them that we send back to England where they use them to make hats.

_premoderated_questions_: Why do the Wampanoag not wear shirts?

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: We had mantles which are made of deer skin that we would wear when we felt cold. And also mantles that were made from animal furs used as jackets for winter and fall.

_gunnj_: Did any of the indians and pilgrims get married??

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: No. They were from two very different cultures.

_julie0118_: Did pilgrims use money?

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: Not in New Plimoth. We would trade with the Native People. Sometimes our corn and sometimes beads and bells and other trinkets.

_bcarrino_: Who had to do more work, boys or girls?

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: Well, girls of course!

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: Everybody worked together.

_premoderated_questions_: What was your favorite candy or dessert during colonial times?

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: Custard!

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: Boiled bread with several berries and nuts.

_bcarrino_: How did you keep warm in the winter?

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: We had three fires in the house. The inside of the house was lined with mats to hold in the heat. We had eight layers of furs on our benches. The houses would get up to 90 degrees!

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: With all of our wool clothing that we brought from England. The fires in our houses too. But it is very cold here in New England. It wasn't this cold in England.

_bcarrino_: How hard was it to start a fire?

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: Not very difficult. Since about the time I was five, I've known how to make a fire. I use flint and steel and tinder to make a fire.

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: We use friction by fire. Which is to use two sticks using the moss from the trees as tinder.

Scholastic_Admin: Thanks everyone! Those were excellent questions -- and fascinating answers. Come back at 3 p.m. ET for more questions and answers with Patience and Randy from the Plimoth Plantation.

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: Good bye everyone. Thank you!

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: Fare thee well!

  • Subjects:
    Native American History, Early Exploration and Settlements, Pilgrims, Communities and Ways of Life, Thanksgiving
  • Skills:
    Reading, Nonfiction Texts, Social Studies