Who helped the pilgrims in America? The landing of the pilgrims took place in Plymouth, Massachusetts in the late 1620s. Although there were Native Americans living in the region, the pilgrims were on their own at first and may have died without help from those who knew the land well.
Challenges for the Pilgrim Fathers
During the first winter, the pilgrims did not get any help from local Native American groups, who saw these new arrivals as an enemy. All the pilgrims had were the supplies brought from England on the Mayflower. They began building a colony and searching for sources of food. Some of the pilgrims got sick and died during their first, harsh New England winter.
In the spring, the Pilgrims finished building their colony. In March of 1621, an Indian named Samoset walked into the colony. Samoset spoke a little bit of English that he had learned from English fishing boat crews. Samoset introduced the pilgrims to a Patuxet Indian named Tisquantum, better known as Squanto.
Squanto had been taught English in London after his capture by English captain George Weymouth. He later worked as a translator on English expeditions to the New World and was eventually allowed to return to his village, only to find that everyone had been wiped out by smallpox.
As the last of his tribe, Squanto began a new village in the shadow of Plymouth Plantation. Squanto taught the Pilgrims how to harvest sap from maple trees to make maple sugar. He also taught them how to grow corn and other vegetables, using cod as a natural fertilizer.
Squanto introduced the colonists to the Wampanoag Indians and acted as a go-between to resolve disputes between the colonists and local tribes. Because the Indians showed the pilgrims how to grow enough food to survive, the pilgrims invited the Indians to a big three-day feast in the fall to celebrate the harvest and to thank the Indians for helping them grow food.
A Tradition Begins
There wasn't always enough food to last through the winter, but each year the pilgrims had a feast in the late fall to celebrate having food. That feast, which the pilgrims held at the end of the harvest in October, became known as the Thanksgiving feast.
Over the years, the Pilgrims and the Indians traded food and goods. If the Pilgrims needed furs to keep warm, they could trade with the Indians to get them. Once shipping routes were established between the colonies and Europe, the pilgrims would meet the Indians to trade at Aptuxcet, an Indian word for trading post, located in the modern town of Bourne, Massachusetts.
Behind our romantic view of the first Thanksgiving lies a history of hardship, suspicion and disagreement. Find out what the first months in the New World were really like for the pilgrims.
What do you know about the first Thanksgiving? You'll find some interesting details among these facts about pilgrims.