In 1620, Native Americans met the English settlers who arrived in the city of Plymouth, Massachusetts. These settlers, known as the Pilgrims, helped start the United States as we know it today. But for Native Americans who had lived in the area for a long time, the arrival of settlers was “the beginning of the end,” said a tribal chief.
Today, historians, educators and activists are preparing for the 400th anniversary of the landing of the pilgrims. They aim to better tell the Aboriginal version of the story.
The Native American group that helped the pilgrims survive their first winter is called the Wampanoag Nation. New exhibitions aim to show how the Wampanoag were subsequently deceived and enslaved.
Additionally, over the next several months, members of the Wampanoag tribe will lead visitors to the area where the first English settlers arrived in 1620. They will show the special places where their ancestors once lived.
Jim Peters is a Wampanoag. He heads the Massachusetts Commission on Indian Affairs. He says, “We can tell stories about what happened to us… I hope this gives us the opportunity to re-educate people and have a national discussion about how we should treat each other.
Hearing the history of Native Americans is especially important after what happened 50 years ago. In 1970, many events honored the 350th anniversary of the arrival of the pilgrims. A chief from the Wampanoag Nation has been invited to speak. Wamsutta “Frank” James was planning to speak about the disease, racism and oppression that Native Americans suffered after the pilgrims arrived. When state officials learned of the speech, they withdrew James’ invitation to speak.
In response, the chiefs of some tribes in the region have organized an annual event to remember what happened to the natives in the United States. Instead of following the usual Thanksgiving tradition, they observe a national day of mourning.
For the upcoming 400th anniversary of the arrival of English settlers, Peters says there is pressure to get the historical facts right.
I am Kelly Jean Kelly.
Kelly Jean Kelly wrote this story for Learning English based on an Associated Press report. Ashley Thompson was the editor.
Words in this story
exposure – nm an object or collection of objects that have been put in a public space for people to view