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Week 3: Who Was at the “First” Thanksgiving?
November 24, 2008, 9:08 am
Filed under: Who Was at the First Thanksgiving?

We all know the story of that fateful day in Plymouth circa 1621, when Pilgrims and Native Americans sat down together for a feast of celebration.  But who was there?  And why were they there?  And why is this meal held up as the emblem of our country’s “first” thanksgiving, when there were a number of such feasts that had come beforehand?

The first profile posts later this evening…stay tuned!

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Another Thanksgivng guest:

Iyanough’s Gifts: A Thanksgiving Blessing

Iyanough
Brought his bow
To the First Thanksgiving

Coming near, he
Killed a deer
Kept the Pilgrims living

Named a foe, he
Froze in snow
Blame Myles’ moral blindness

Our thoughts go to
Iyanough
Victimized by kindness

As we share
Food and prayer
Turkey, pie, and cheese

Thank you so
Iyanough
Sachem, Mattakeese

A bit of background: Iyanough is a relative (through Marriage, my cousins are descendents). I wanted to write something for my grandkids, and I know rhyming helps them to remember stories.

When the Pilgrims first encountered the Indians they fought a brief skirmish (These were the Nauset Indians, the place was First Encounter Beach in Eastham). After the Pilgrims settled in Plymouth, a boy, John Billington, wandered off in the woods and became a “guest” of the Nausets. The Pilgrims, thinking him lost, sent an expedition to search for him. Off Barnstable, they encountered the Mattakeese tribe and their Sachem, Iyanough. Iyanough accompanied them to Eastham, where he secured the boy’s release and brokered a peace between the Nausets and the Pilgrims.

The next year Myles Standish launched a fatwah against the Indians, posting the head of one on a stake outside Plymouth Plantation, causing Iyanough and others to flee into the woods in Winter. Iyanough died of exposure. Thus was Iyanough, friend to the Pilgrims, “victimized by his kindness.” The events are well related in “Mayflower” by Nathaniel Philbrick. Indians did bring venison to the first Thanksgiving, and Iyanough was indeed there.

My Uncle, Quiet Bear, is descended from Iyanough as is my cousin, Sleeping Bear. My Aunt, Walks on Slippery Rocks, is now a member of the Wampanoag tribe. The Town of Hyannis is named after Iyanough’s son, John Hyanno.

George McQuilken, copyright 2008.

Comment by George McQuilken




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