Discover the Rich History of Thanksgiving Indian Tribes

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Discover the Rich History of Thanksgiving Indian Tribes

Thanksgiving is a holiday steeped in tradition and history. While everyone knows about the Pilgrims, did you know that there were Native American tribes present at the first Thanksgiving? In fact, several tribes were integral to the success and survival of the early settlers. It’s time to discover the rich history of these Indian tribes and their role in the first Thanksgiving.

It’s a common misconception that the relationship between the Pilgrims and the Native Americans was always peaceful. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. The Wampanoag tribe, for example, had experienced significant loss due to disease and warfare before they met the Pilgrims. Despite this, the Wampanoag chose to extend a hand of friendship to the newcomers and taught them how to cultivate crops and hunt local game. Without the support of the Wampanoag, it’s highly unlikely that the Pilgrims would have survived their first winter in Plymouth.

While we often think of the first Thanksgiving as a feast shared between the Pilgrims and the Native Americans, it’s important to note that there were many more tribes in the area than just the Wampanoag. The Massachusett, Nauset, and Pocasset tribes also contributed significantly to the early development of Plymouth Colony. These tribes showed the early settlers how to fish, make cornmeal, and create homes out of bark and thatch. Today, we honor their contributions by remembering their stories and preserving their culture.

As you prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving this year, take a moment to reflect on the contributions of the Native American tribes who helped make the holiday possible. By learning about their history and traditions, we can honor their legacy and continue to foster positive relationships with indigenous communities today.

Thanksgiving Indian Tribe
“Thanksgiving Indian Tribe” ~ bbaz


Thanksgiving is one of the most popular holidays in America, and it stems from a rich history of Native American tribes celebrating their bountiful harvest with pilgrims. However, there is much more to this history than what is taught in schools. In this article, we will explore the diverse Indian tribes that impacted the story of Thanksgiving and how their customs and traditions continue to influence modern-day celebrations.

The Wampanoag Tribe

The Wampanoag was the tribe that interacted with the Pilgrims, and therefore, has received most attention regarding the history of Thanksgiving. They’re a tribe of around 2,000 people who inhabited the areas of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. The Wampanoag people are known for their particular diet, including corn, beans, squash, and heritage fruits. They also emphasize strong family ties, and they are among the top fruit growers in the country.

The Iroquois Confederacy

Often referred to as the Six Nations, the Iroquois Confederacy comprised originally of five tribes-Haudenosaunee, Mohawk, Oneida, Seneca, and Onondaga-and later the Tuscarora. A unique aspect of the Iroquois culture was its matriarchal system and women assembly, which gave women equal power as their male counterparts. Additionally, their constitution, The Great Law of Peace, was the first constitution in America and even inspired the US constitution’s concept of democracy.

The Powhatan Confederacy

The Powhatan Confederacy was made up of more than 30 Algonquian-speaking tribes situated in the coastal plains of Virginia. They were notable for their farming techniques, harvesting corn, beans, and squash, which sustained them year-round despite unexpected weather conditions. Their chief, Powhatan, is also famous as Pocahontas’ father; these facts led to some significant cultural recognition in films and pop culture.

The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe

The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe is another Wampanoag tribe that occupies parts of Cape Cod in Massachusetts. Like the Wampanoag, the Mashpee Wampanoag relied on agriculture and fishing for their sustenance. They have an active community that maintains their cultural heritage through food practices, cultural art, and language.

The Cherokee Tribe

The Cherokee tribe is the second largest tribe in the United States and has over 300,000 enrolled members. Originating from the southeastern United States, the Cherokee people had an agriculture-based society and grew crops like corn, beans, tomatoes, and squash. They also had a democratic system of government before European explorers arrived.

The Narragansett Tribe

The Narragansett Tribe is located in Rhode Island and was heavily involved in interacting with the colonists arriving in America. They had a rich history of trade and were known for their beadwork craftsmanship, quillwork, and basketry.

Differences in Cultural Food Practices

Compared to Pilgrims, Native Americans had a relatively different cuisine. Native Americans’ staple foods, like corn and pumpkin (not pies), were cost-effective and easily grown. They practiced a sustainable lifestyle, relying on local plant varieties to cook; today, we see dishes like succotash and cornbread. Native American recipes continuously affect American culinary menus. Pilgrims, in contrast, highly valued imported European ingredients like rose water, cinnamon, and sugar.

Similarities in Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving Day did not entirely originate in colonial America, as people from various parts of the world have always given thanks for a fruitful harvest. Native Americans had their own form of giving thanks for their bounty, whereas the Pilgrims celebrated their harvest by sharing their bounty with their neighbors. Both celebrations share the same motive; being thankful for the health and happiness brought about by good harvests.

Native American Heritage Month

While Thanksgiving serves as an annual reminder of Native American traditions, Native American History Month is an opportunity to honor and educate non-Natives about indigenous cultures that are often underrepresented or misrepresented.


The history of Thanksgiving is shaped by its interactions with diverse Indian Tribes. While most schools and media sources portray a skewed version of this history, this article shows that the history of Thanksgiving is much more extensive than what is generally taught. It’s essential to give due credit to the Indian tribes who helped make Thanksgiving Day possible.

Thank you for joining us on this journey to discover the rich history of Thanksgiving Indian tribes. We hope this article has helped shed light on the contributions and traditions of indigenous peoples during this important holiday.

As we reflect on the modern-day celebration of Thanksgiving, it’s important to understand and honor the history and culture of those who have lived on this land for thousands of years. By acknowledging and respecting the heritage of Native American tribes, we can help ensure their stories and traditions are passed down to future generations.

We encourage you to continue learning about the diverse cultures and histories of indigenous peoples in America and around the world. By doing so, we can gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for the richness of our collective human experience.

People also ask about Discover the Rich History of Thanksgiving Indian Tribes:

  1. Who were the Native American tribes that were present at the first Thanksgiving?
  2. The Wampanoag tribe and the Pilgrims were present at the first Thanksgiving.

  3. What was the relationship between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag tribe?
  4. The Pilgrims and the Wampanoag tribe had a peaceful relationship and engaged in trade and alliances.

  5. What was the significance of the first Thanksgiving?
  6. The first Thanksgiving was significant as it was a celebration of a successful harvest and the peaceful coexistence between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag tribe.

  7. What other Indian tribes celebrated Thanksgiving?
  8. Thanksgiving was not widely celebrated among other Indian tribes as it was a specific celebration between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag tribe.

  9. How did Thanksgiving become a national holiday?
  10. Thanksgiving became a national holiday in the United States in 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln declared it as a day of thanks and praise for the Union victory in the Civil War.

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