Keepunumuk: Wee√Ęchumun's Thanksgiving Story

  • Type: Books
  • By: Danielle Greendeer
  • Age Category: Children
  • Genre: General Fiction, Historical Fiction
  • Recommended by: Tom S.
  • ISBN/UPC: 9781623542900
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An indigenous perspective on "The First Thanksgiving"

Few episodes of American history have been so mythologized as the 1621 harvest festival jointly celebrated by the English settlers of Plymouth Colony and their Wampanoag neighbors.  Children’s books that portray the event from the English point of view are abundant.  Some of these titles are quite fanciful, while others stay close to the historical sources.

This book similarly respects the historical event, though it also takes a deep (and very welcome) dive into Wampanoag spirituality as the author imagines a conversation among the legendary Three Sisters of native horticultural practice (corn, beans, and squash).  Should the Wampanoag people help these strange-acting newcomers, who will surely die if left to their own devices?   Corn (Weeâchumun), argues persuasively that her people have the responsibility to aid others in need, and so the Wampanoag choose to help the English settlers survive.

Readers will appreciate the historical details given here that are often left out of First Thanksgiving stories.  For example, the reason English settlers found a great deal of cleared but deserted land to farm was because so many indigenous farmers had died from diseases introduced by Europeans in the preceding years.   And English survival in the winter of 1619-20 was mostly due to locating native seed caches and raiding them for food.

This book will make an excellent addition to any discussion about the period of first contact between native North Americans and European settlers.