The Wampanoag Indians help the English Puritans survive at their new colony at Plymouth, Massachusetts. Chief Massasoit and Plymouth Governor William Bradford sign a treaty of peace that lasts more than 50 years and results in the first Thanksgiving.
Puritans and Indians
NARRATOR: The Pilgrims who landed at Plymouth, Massachusetts in December of 1620, had been heading for land granted to Virginia and expected a warmer climate and a chance to replenish supplies. They were neither hunters nor fishermen, skills necessary for survival. Many quickly succumbed to starvation and disease. If the local Wampanoag Indians, led by Chief Massasoit, hadn't stepped in to help, the colony might have perished completely.
Professor EVAN HAEFELI (Columbia University): Both the Pilgrims and Massasoit worked out what was effectively an alliance which kept the Pilgrims safe and actually helped protect the Wampanoags against their enemies for several decades, about 50 years.
NARRATOR: The Indians introduced pumpkins, corn, potatoes, and other local foods to the Pilgrims. They also taught them how to fertilize their fields, and to plant beans to replenish their soil. In 1621, the tribe's chieftain, Massasoit, signed a treaty with the Pilgrims, and famously, helped them celebrate the first Thanksgiving after the autumn harvest.
HAEFELI: Massasoit is famous and well known as sort of one of the first ones within the English colonies who stuck such an alliance, and who managed to keep that alliance functioning and peaceful throughout his life. And, it wasn't until the next generation that things started to fall apart through no fault of his own.
Some 100 people, many of them seeking religious freedom in the New World, set sail from England on the Mayflower in September 1620. That November, the ship landed on the shores of Cape Cod, in present-day Massachusetts. A scouting party was sent out, and in late December the group landed at Plymouth Harbor, where they would form the first permanent settlement of Europeans in New England. These original settlers of Plymouth Colony are known as the Pilgrim Fathers, or simply as the Pilgrims.