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Our First Thanksgiving by Lauren Collins (Grade 5)

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Our First Thanksgiving by Lauren Collins

“Our tribe has been invited to what Governor Bradford has called 'Thanksgiving!’”

These were the words written in the diary of my great, great grandmother. I discovered the diary. I knew I was related to someone who attended the first Thanksgiving, but what you are about to read gave me a whole new perspective on what it might have been like. In my opinion, what I am about to reveal is one of the greatest, most heartfelt memories of all time. Please, sit back, relax and enjoy these excerpts telling the story of the first Thanksgiving.

Take note that all of this has been translated from a Native American language into English.

September 5, 1621
My name is Tala, which means wolf. I am 10 years old. My mama says I was named that because of my playfulness and free spirit. Right now my tribe, Wampanoag, is preparing for the fall harvest. Although my best friend Totsi and I don’t do much with the harvest, we sure do enjoy making dolls and picking flowers for our hair. In our tribe, Totsi’s father, Massasoit, is the chief.

September 7, 1621
Lately, we have seen some white men around our territory. This is because of Squanto, who was adopted into the Wampanoag tribe. His story begins with his capture by the Europeans. Squanto had been back and forth several times from his captivity from the Europeans. In fact, he was in Europe more than here. While Squanto was in Europe, tragically, every person in his Pawtuxet tribe died from a mysterious plague. Thankfully, during this time, Samoset was visiting our Wampanoag territory and befriended Squanto. He told him that he should live with the Wampanoag Indians. Squanto agreed, and we got along so well that he never left.

Squanto, who could speak English exceptionally well, was able to help and communicate with the pilgrims. He taught them how to hunt deer, turkey, eel and bear. Squanto also taught them how to fertilize their crops with fish, which our ancestors had done long ago. Because Squanto has gotten along with the white people so well, he introduced them to us. Most of them are kind, but we are still a little unsure.

September 10, 1621
Because the white people’s crops had been doing so well, our tribe was invited to what Governor Bradford has called “Thanksgiving.” None of us are quite sure whether to be overjoyed or frightened. Just this morning I heard mama saying to papa, “We just have to be prepared for anything that could happen.”

I asked Totsi that evening, “What will we do at the Thanksgiving? Do you think it will be fun?”

After giving some thought, she answered, “I don’t know. I’m just curious to see what they look like!”

September 13, 1621
Today is the day after the Thanksgiving. It was more amazing than I could have ever dreamed. Although at first every soul felt fear, the tension quickly slipped away and we had the most wonderful time. Including my family and chief Massasoit family, there were 90 Wampanoag Indians that came. Naturally, we brought deer to share. Totsi and I met a beautiful girl. We played dolls with her and gave her one of our homemade bracelets. The white girl looks very different from me. Underneath her pale blue dress, she has fair skin. She also has light hair; it is a kind I have not seen before. Sadly, we don’t know her name and can’t speak her language, but in our hearts we can feel each other’s emotions.

That day a special blessing from our ancestors was laid upon us, for side by side the pilgrims and Indians worked, played, and gave thanks as if one huge family. No longer was it called the White Men's Thanksgiving. I realized it was our first Thanksgiving.

I hope you enjoyed the story. Even now, 121 years later, it feels so real, as if I am sitting there soaking in all the wonderful events that happened at the first Thanksgiving.
Who is the narrator at the beginning of the story?
  1. a Native American girl who lived during the first Thanksgiving
  2. a white girl who lived during the first Thanksgiving
  3. a relative of a Native American
  4. a relative of a white person
How did the main character feel about attending the first Thanksgiving?
  1. She did not want to go.
  2. She felt very nervous.
  3. She was happy.
  4. She felt sad.
Why were the Native Americans invited to the first Thanksgiving?
  1. Governor Bradford decided to hold it.
  2. They met a young white girl around their age.
  3. Squanto befriended the white men and worked with them.
  4. The two groups got together and decided to hold a meal to bring peace.
This passage is mostly written in the format of a
  1. diary.
  2. letter.
  3. article.
  4. newspaper.
How did the main character feel after Thanksgiving was over?
  1. She was disappointed by the event.
  2. She felt like it connected her people and the white men.
  3. She wished they had never been invited to the meal in the first place.
  4. She realized they were very different from the other people in the community.
Pretend you were at the first Thanksgiving with the main character.
Write a diary entry to share what it was like.

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