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The student will be able to:


1. Model saying "Thank you/Miigwetch."

2. Brainstorm times to say thanks (at home, at school, at play).

3. Get an old branch and "plant" it in a bucket. Have students say something that happened that day for which they might have said "Thanks." Write it on the back of a happy face and hang it on the THANK-YOU / MIIGWETCH TREE.

4. Model saying "I am thankful for..." Examples: "I am really thankful for all of these good books. I am thankful that you are all here today. I am thankful that we got the area cleaned up."

5. Read an example of an American Indian Thanksgiving Greeting:

6. Tell students about Wampanoag life. Explain that food, clothing, shelter and customs varied from one American Indian nation to another. (Note: The term nation is preferable to tribe in the context of this lesson because it better reflects the organized government and social system of American Indians.) Point out that only American Indians living on the Plains used the stereotypical headdress and tipi. Stress that life in American Indian villages was carefully organized and that they worked, raised families, made time for play and wanted fulfilling lives just as all people did.

7. Students locate and read additional material on Thanksgiving Day. (See Resource List.)

8. With students generate lists of things the Wampanoags may have been thankful for. What might the Pilgrims have been thankful for?

9. Students summarize information they have gathered to this point. This may be oral, written on charts, or illustrated on large paper.


Thanksgiving, Harvest Festivals, American Indian Nation


Bucket and branch for THANK-YOU/MIIGWETCH TREE
Story to tell students: "Wampanoag Life in the 17th Century"
Large paper for summary charts or illustrations


Participate in THANK-YOU/MIIGWETCH TREE activity.
Retell story of the Wampanoags.


Students tell story "Wampanoag Life in the 17th Century" to another class or parents.
Students originate another way to promote the practice of saying "thanks" or "Miigwetch", perhaps "thank you notes" to previous teachers.
Students begin writing in a weekly "thank-you" journal.

LINKAGES - Human Relations, Communications

"Wampanoag Life in the 17th Century"

The Wampanoags inhabited the area around Plymouth, Massachusetts; when the Pilgrims arrived, the Wampanoags were considerably weakened in numbers because of a smallpox plague of a few years earlier.

Food: Coastal southern New England - including the area around Plymouth - was rich in a variety of food sources. Because these sources were available seasonally in different locales, Wampanoags moved several times during the year. In the spring, they would gather at certain rivers for the upstream run of fish such as herring. In the planting season, Wampanoags moved to the coast; summer was a time for gardening such crops as corn, beans, squash and pumpkins. In the fall, deer were hunted and the men moved to the forest to catch migrating animals; sometimes women and children would be included in the hunting expedition if the distance was not too great. After the hunting season people moved inland where there was greater protection from the weather. From December to April, Wampanoags occupied inland winter camps and lived on food that they had stored during summer and fall. With the return of spring they would once again congregate at the fishing places.

The Wampanoags, like other American Indians, did not ruin the land that they lived on. They cut down trees only to make way for their gardens, to use for building their homes and to prevent or stop forest fires. They loved and respected the earth from which they believed all living things came. Although each nation had a definite territory on which they lived and worked, they did not believe that they owned or could sell the land.

Clothing: The basic dress for both men and women was the breechclout - a length of deerskin looped over a belt in back, passed between the legs and looped over a belt again in front. The Wampanoags did not wear a great deal of additional clothing. For more protection against insects and cold, they wore a thick coating of animal or vegetable fat and sometimes put on leggings. Skin capes were worn by both sexes.

Shelters: The Wampanoags had two main types of houses. Summer houses were round in shape. Poles were set in the ground in a circle and bent toward the center where they were tied together with strips of tree bark. Mats woven from tall grasses or bark covered the outside. A fireplace was located in the center of the floor. Winter houses were larger - about 30 feet wide and 50-100 feet long - and rectangular in shape. A number of families lived in them in order to keep warm; each family had its own fireplace. Wampanoag homes were dry and warm; the bark or woven mats were placed on the roofs so carefully that they did not leak during rains.

Government: The leaders of the Wampanoag people were called sachems. (Both men and women were known to have been sachems.) Each Wampanoag village had its own sachem and tribal council and there was also a chief sachem of all the Wampanoags who consulted with the village leaders. Together they enforced the laws and helped solve the problems of the people living in villages in their territory. The advice of older people was especially respected because they had more experience. Sachems would try to do a good job since whoever didn't like their policies could join another sachem. The most respected sachem had the greatest number of followers.

Life Style: The Wampanoags treated each other with respect. Any visitor was provided with a share of whatever food a family had, even if the supply was low. Regardless of when guests arrived, the courteous thing to do was to first offer them food. Guests were given a place to sleep. In the summer, room might be given to a visitor by having a family member sleep outside.

No one in a Wampanoag village was left out. Friends or relatives would make sure that widows, orphans, old people and sick people were cared for. If they could not, the sachem (leader) of the village had to see that they were helped.
- Arlene Hirschfelder and Jane