The first year was a difficult one for the Pilgrims. Poor and inadequate food, strenuous work, and changing weather made the settlers susceptible to sickness. The colony lost about half its members that first winter.
World Book Explains: How did Native Americans help Pilgrims? Philip Wynne, Native Mashpee Wampanoag at Plimoth Plantation, explains how Native Americans helped the Pilgrims.
But help came one spring morning, when an Indian walked into the village and introduced himself as Samoset. He later returned with Squanto. Samoset and Squanto introduced the Pilgrims to Massasoit, the sachem (chief) of the Wampanoag tribe that controlled all southeastern Massachusetts. Carver and the chief exchanged gifts and arranged a treaty of peace. Soon afterward, the Mayflower sailed for England, leaving the Pilgrims. After Carver died in April 1621, William Bradford became governor of the colony.
World Book Explains: What was the first Thanksgiving like? Kathleen Curtin, Historian at Plimoth Plantation, talks about the first Thanksgiving from a Pilgrim perspective. This video was filmed at Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, MA.
The Pilgrims, under Squanto's direction, caught alewives (a fish in the herring family) and used them as fertilizer in planting corn, pumpkins, and beans. They also hunted and fished for food. Following the bountiful harvest of 1621, the Pilgrims held a three-day feast similar to the “harvest home” festivals held in England. Massasoit and 90 Wampanoag Indians joined the 50 or so colonists in food and sports. The food included fowl provided by the colonists andvenison (deer meat) provided by the Indians. The feast inspired the holiday celebrated in the United States as Thanksgiving.
World Book Explains: What was the first Thanksgiving like (Native American perspective)? Philip Wynne, Native Mashpee Wampanoag at Plimoth Plantation, talks about the first Thanksgiving from a Native American perspective. This video was filmed at Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, MA.