Q:

How did Thanksgiving begin?

A:

Squanto was a member of the Pawtuket Native American tribe that aided the English settlers through an unfamiliar land. Teaching them how to cultivate their new environment and avoid hazards, he helped solidify relations between colonists and Native Americans, which resulted in a large celebration in 1621 regarded as the first Thanksgiving.

Squanto was able to communicate and aid the English colonists due to the fact that previously he was kidnapped by an English captain and sold into slavery. Eventually, Squanto escaped England and made it back to his home in present-day New England after learning the English language.

Half of the English settlers who embarked on the journey across the Atlantic did not survive until the next year living in their adopted home. The English were unfamiliar with their new environment, and Squanto taught them how to farm crops, fish, distillate sap from trees and avoid poisonous plants.

Squanto, being able to communicate with his fellow natives and the colonists, was able to aid in the friendly relations between the two parties. This harmonious relationship between the Wampanoag tribe and the English colonists was able to endure for only a few generations.

With the teachings of the local natives, the English settlers were able achieve a successful corn harvest in November 1621. As a result of this success, Gov. William Bradford, a local colonial leader of the time, organized a large festive dinner to which the Native American tribes who aided their success were invited. This jovial occasion is recognized today as the first Thanksgiving dinner.

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