A Beginning

untitled, 5′ x 5′, pigment on wool flannel, 1986

When I went to pick up my mail yesterday, my Native American friend was behind the desk.

I asked him what he was going to do for Thanksgiving.

His eyes went a bit dead and he told me that his tribe doesn’t really celebrate that day.

I left thinking that of course, the day was not a celebratory one for him..


It was MY forefathers who arrived at Plymouth and began to do their viral spread.

And yet, those very Native Americans ; all 90 Massasiot tribespeople and 53 of our colonists shared an abundant table together way back in 1621.

Each of those people began a relationship with a cautious hope,

But it was hope just the same.

Here is what they probably ate that day:

The First Thanksgiving Menu


Seafood: Cod, Eel, Clams, Lobster

Wild Fowl: Wild Turkey, Goose, Duck, Crane, Swan, Partridge, Eagles

Meat: Venison, Seal

Grain: Wheat Flour, Indian corn

Vegetables: Peas, Beans, Onions, Lettuce, Radish, Carrots

Fruit: Plums, Grapes

Nuts: Walnuts, Chestnuts, Acorns

Herbs and Seasonings: Olive Oil, Liverwort, Leeks, Dried Currants, Parsnips
The idea that we saw, we liked, we took, makes my heart sting a bit.

And yet, the essence of giving thanks on the third Thursday in November each year remains a high holy day for me.

But a good life at the expense of another causes me pause.

And I do not choose to forage ahead toward the fine wine and golden turkey tomorrow

Without a low and honoring bow of my head toward those nicked and tumbled

In the greedy wake

Of our fast and shiny boats.


One Response to “A Beginning”

  1. Laura Hegfield on November 27th, 2010

    so important to remember this…too easy to forget that often the benefits for one group of people come from the devastation of another group….thank you for this reminder Cathy.

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