Story hour was just about to begin. Miss Hattie, known to some of the “Can Do” Kids as Grandma Hattie, was just settling down in her comfortable chair at the front of the room. She had a storybook in her hand when the door opened and there was Jay!
Several of the “Can Do’ Kids yelled out, “Hi Jay, welcome home.”
Jay ran for a seat, but before he could sit down Miss Hattie said, ” \Jay, everyone is so glad to see you. We know you spent the month of July on the reservation in Dakota with your grandparents. How about sharing a story or two about what you learned during your visit?”
Jay said, “Sure, I’d love to tell a story about how my tribe lived long ago, before Native Americans lived on reservations. I’d like to tell a story about how important the buffalo were to my people.”
The “Can Dos” settled down and paid close attention as Jay told his story.
“Once there were so many buffalo on the Great Plains. The buffalo were revered by my people both in songs and stories. The buffalo provided food and clothing and other things that my tribe needed in order to live.
My people followed the buffalo as they moved around looking for food to eat. My tribe would pack up all that they owned and make camp near where the buffalo were grazing. The men would go out and hunt buffalo while the women and children stayed behind.
When the men brought the buffalo they killed back to the camp, the women and children would help to make the things they needed to survive. My tribe did not waste any part of the buffalo.
I have a picture I brought from the reservation for show and tell when school got started, but I think I should show it now. Wait till you see all that my tribe got from the buffalo!”
With that, Jay unrolled the picture below. The “Can Dos” were amazed to see all the ways that Jay’s tribe had used the buffalo to survive.
Be sure to click on the picture to make it larger and see all the things Jay’s tribe made from the buffalo!
“Class, Jay is going to tell us about how Native Americans helped to make our first Thanksgiving possible,” said Miss Pat. “As you know, Jay is a Native American.”
“Thanks Miss Pat,” said Jay. He began, “The settlers, from Europe, that landed at Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts were called Pilgrims. The natives that lived in this area were from tribes of the Wampanoag people who had lived there for 10,000 years before any explorers or settlers came from Europe.
After the Pilgrims built their settlement, they met Squanto, who spoke English. He was a member of the Pawtuxet tribe. He spoke English because he had been captured by explorers and taken to England. He escaped and came back to live with his tribe.
The first winter was very hard on the Pilgrims and many times they were very hungry. Squanto was a big help to the Pilgrims. He taught them to plant corn and other vegetables. He also taught them where to fish and how to hunt beaver and other animals for food.
In 1621, the Pilgrims invited their Native American neighbors to a feast of thanksgiving after they harvested what they had grown with Squanto’s help. That first Thanksgiving is why every year we celebrate Thanksgiving Day,” finished Jay.
The class all clapped and Jay smiled and took his seat. Miss Pat asked, “Does anyone have a question for Jay”? Hector raised his hand and asked, “What did they eat at the feast”? Jay answered, “Can I talk about that tomorrow? I’m really tired of talking right now.”
Miss Pat smiled and said,”We will have to wait until tomorrow to hear more of Jay’s wonderful story about the first Thanksgiving. Thanks Jay.”
Miss Pat decided to use the coming Thanksgiving holiday to teach a history lesson about life in the American colonies.
She invited Jay, since he is an American Indian, to tell the story of what the early colonists ate at that first Thanksgiving meal.
“Hi,” said Jay. ”What I am going to tell you about today I learned from reading and listening to the History Channel on TV.
What did the Pilgrims and their Native American guests eat that first Thanksgiving day? Well, lots of what they called fowl caught by hunters. There were ducks and geese eaten on the first Thanksgiving. Historians don’t know for sure if they had wild turkeys. They may have.
If the Pilgrims had cranberries, they would not have been sweet. Colonists didn’t start to boil cranberries with sugar for another 50 years.
They didn’t have potatoes either. The colonists were not growing white or sweet potatoes back then. They didn’t have sweet pies for dessert since they didn’t have butter and flour for pie crust and there was very little sugar for pie filling.
They did have lobsters, mussels, white and red grapes, black and red plums, and flint corn. And that’s what I know about what they ate on that first Thanksgiving.”
Everyone clapped and Miss Pat said, “Thank you Jay for sharing all that you know about that first Thanksgiving!”