Plimoth Plantation Thanksgiving Chat, Part 1

Read the chat transcript between students, a modern-day Manomet Plymouth Wampanoag Native American, and a young Pilgrim from the Plimoth Plantation in Massachusetts.

  • Grades: 1–2, 3–5, 6–8

Plimoth Plantation Chat 

Be sure to see Part 2 and Part 3 of this Thanksgiving chat.

Scholastic hosted a chat between students, a modern-day Manomet Plymouth Wampanoag Native American named Randy Joseph, and a Pilgrim interpreter named Patience Morton. For Patience, it is the year 1627 and she is 12 years old. Both Randy and Patience spoke to us from the Plimoth Plantation in Massachusetts. Here is Part 1 of the transcript.


Scholastic_Admin: Welcome to the chat. We'll begin the chat in just a few minutes. Get your questions ready!

Plimoth_Plantation: Hi. This is Plimoth Plantation. We have Manomet Plymouth Wampanoag Native American Randy Joseph here. We also have Pilgrim girl Patience Morton. For Patience it is the year 1627 and she is 12 years old.

_premoderated_questions_: What did the Pilgrims eat while traveling on the Mayflower?

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: We ate salted fish, ship's biscuit, pease, oats, Holland cheese, and some prunes!

_premoderated_questions_: What is difficult about living on a boat?

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: Not knowing when you are going to see land again! It was hard to see our friends and family getting sick. My mother gave birth to my brother Ephraim on the ship that we came on. The ship was called the Anne.

_premoderated_questions_: What were the main Native American tribes in the Plymouth area?

_premoderated_questions_: Where did Native Americans get seeds to grow their crops?

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: There were 67 villages. Closest to Plymouth was Nemasket, Manomet, Pembroke, Titicut (Bridgewater), Agawam (Wareham) and Matakeeset.

Plimoth_Plantation: Oral tradition tells us that the great Creator sent the crow from the southwest and told the crow to give corn and beans to the people of the east. The creator put one corn kernel in one of the crow's ears and a bean in the other. He flew to the people.

_jsparrow_: What do you hunt?

Plimoth_Plantation: In the fall, right now, we hunt for ducks, turkeys, geese, swans, beaver, otter, minks, muskrat.

eswett: How did you make bread?

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: First we have to grow the corn. The Native corn is a new corn to us. It is a different kind of bread than what we are used to in England.

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: We harvest it, dry it, pound it, bolt it, winnow it, and bake it in the oven

_Dolphins_: How do you survive without video games?

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: I'm not sure what those are! If you mean what do we do for entertainment, we play a game called "making cheeses". I play rolling hoops and 9 pins. But only when my mother gives me permission to do so!

_jgreg_: What does bolt and winnow mean?

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: Bolting is sifting the flour from the groats. Winnowing is removing the chaff from the grain.

_MES_SCHOOL_1ST_GRADE_: What did you do for entertainment?

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: Swimming, running races, ball games, stick game, and playing with deerskin action figures. Also, hunting, fishing and trapping.

_Dolphins_: What is 9 pins. We would like to learn to play that game

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: You roll a ball at 9 standing wooden cones.

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: Each person gets two rolls of the ball and you count the number of pins knocked down.

_mbfirstgrade_: Did you really eat turkey on Thanksgiving?

_Dolphins_: we call that bowling

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: We, as the Wampanoag people, give thanks every day. Not just one day of the year. On the historic event in 1621 we know by one written document by Edward Winslow that they ate fowl and deer. They may have had turkey but we don't know for sure!

_premoderated_questions_: Do you know any interesting facts about the first Thanksgiving?

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: We don't know for sure that the Wampanoag were even invited! It could be that they heard the colonists' guns go off when they were hunting and practicing shooting. They may have come when they heard that noise.

_JusWhe_: What did the Pilgrims and Indians drink?

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: Here in America, we drink water. In Holland we drank beer.

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: Mint tea, water, and strawberry mint tea.

_turkeyday123_: Were there any African Americans at the First Thanksgiving?

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: No, there were not. Just the colonists and the Wampanoag.

_sara75296_: What was the weather like on the first Thanksgiving?

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: It was the fall, so imagine what fall is like today. It might have been colder back then. There were a lot of stars out then.

_sara75296_: What did you do to keep yourselrf from getting bored on the Mayflower?

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: We told riddles, sang songs, and prayed! We sang psalms from a book called the psalter.

_jenrog_: why did the pilgrims come to America?

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: The most important reason was for God's glory, and then for our King's glory. For some, they came for an opportunity to improve their lives.

_jgreg_: Why was the Mayflower named "The Mayflower?'

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: Mayflower is a common name for ships. It is named after the Hawthorn tree which is one of the first blooming flowers in the spring.

_Dolphins_: How do you make your clothing... Randy and Patience

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: Clothing is made from deerskin. We use sinew, which is the hamstring tendon, for thread. We use deer ribs as our sewing needles. A thick piece of bone sharpened to one fine point we use for an awl. We paint our clothing with minerals from the earth, red ochre, yellow ochre, also charcoal mixed with animal fat or duck or goose eggs,

_mrshall208_: how did the tribes get their names

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: We are not making clothes here in New Plymouth yet. We get our clothes from England. Wool is from sheep and linen is from a plant called flax. There are tradesmen in England who do the work of making clothes.

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: The names of the different tribes that make up the Wampanoag nation, were names from the land. For example Patuxet, which means place of the little falls, because there are many freshwater springs.

_stars_: What did 8yr. olds have to do?

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: Children didn't really have chores. Each child has a different spirit that grows differently. So, maybe in the village there is a boy who shot his first deer at age 8 because he started hunting at the early age of 2. But then maybe there is a boy who is 8 who just started hunting. That's ok too. A lot of things we do as recreation today are things that are daily life; fishing, cutting saplings for houses, and making boats.

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: As a girl, I must help my mother with grinding spices, pounding corn, milking goats, gathering eggs, laying the board, and planting in the fields and in the garden. My step father is starting to teach me some letters. And many times not many girls are able to get that sort of education because they have to do their chores and learn their huswifery skills.

djts: Why did some pilgrims survive and some didn't?

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: God's Providence.

djts: Was there a doctor on the ships?

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: Yes there was. Most ship's crews would have a surgeon among them in case the ship was under attack or if the sailor's started to get scurvy. We also had a man amongst us that had barber-surgeon skills, and a surgeons chest with him.

_turkeyday123_: What was considered a "normal" height for a Pilgrim man?

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: God gives some more height than others! Most aren't so lofty though. Most are less than 6 feet tall.

_MES_SCHOOL_1ST_GRADE_: How did you catch fish and animals?

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: We use dip nets, a fish weir for catching salmon and herring, spears, and hook, line and sinkers. Also, eel traps.

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: My step-father uses a musket for hunting birds and deer. We snare rabbits and net quail. For fishing, my step-father has nets and a basket called an eel pot.

_stars_: What sweet foods did you have?

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: Boiled bread, which is like a pop tart! It is round and made from cornmeal mixed with blueberries, strawberries, cranberries, walnuts, and sunflower seeds. We have stewed corn dumplings mixed with beach plums and raspberries.

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: We have, from England, sugar, raisins and currants and some prunes. Here in America, the strawberries are very sweet in their season. But there isn't any honey here, for their are no honey bees here.

_2ndgradehighlands_: How many houses did you build when you first got to the new world?

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: The first house wasn't started until Christmas Day, 1620. That was a house to get some of the ones who were the most sick off of the ship and in to shelter. But when I arrived in 1623, there were already about 20 dwellings, a few storehouses mixed in amongst them.

_mbfirstgrade_: What kind of restrooms did you have?

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: The woods!

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: Chamber pots and the woods. We haven't built any privies yet.

eswett: How often did you get to bathe?

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: Every day. We brush our teeth with charcoal from the fire which makes them white.

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: Every day I wash my hands and face often. I haven't bathed myself in the brook since the summer time.

_mrshall208_: did you celebrate birthdays

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: We celebrate Christ's birthday every day. I do not celebrate the day of my own birth.

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: We had coming of age ceremonies for boys and girls. Maybe birthdays would be celebrated yearly, but I wasn't there!

_chagla_: Did kids hunt for food like dear and turky?

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: The first step to prove that you are a young man is to shoot your first deer. As a child you would hunt smaller animals.

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: My brother Nathaniel sometimes goes with my step-father out hunting. He is 14 years old. He says the muskets are very heavy!

_halblaqua_: Did the Pilgrims really know how to speak with the indians?

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: No. They had an interpreter named Squanto. After the treaty was signed in 1621, Hobbamock was sent to live about two football fields away from the English village. He acted as an interpreter.

_mrshall208_: PLEASE PLEASE tell us something about Squanto. We are learning about him and have heard so many different things about his life

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: To the English, Squanto was a great man. To the Wampanoag, we looked at him as a traitor due to the fact that he would tell all the Wampanoag communities that the English might be up to something, but that he would work it all out if they would give him some trade items.

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: By the time I arrived in New Plymouth, Squanto had died. My uncle, the Governor, says that he died in 1622. I have seen Hobbamock speaking with my uncle and Master Winslow but I have never spoken to him.

_SimPet_: did some of the pilgrams and indians fight and kill each other

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: There was a treaty between some of the Wampanoag and Plymouth Colony. It said that if somebody tried to hurt the Wampanoag the English would help them, and vice versa. We did have conflict with the Massachusetts Bay Colony, where Native People were killed by the English.

_bcarrino_: Did native American and Pilgrim children become friends and play together?

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: No. Our relationship with the English was basically a business relationship, due to the fact that we had different cultures and religions.

_premoderated_questions_: I've heard the terms Native American, American Indian, and Indian -- what's the correct one to use?
Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: Sometimes when I am with my mother down at the shore gathering clams and mussels, I see some Native women with their children. We look at one another. But we don't play together.

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: It depends on who you talk to! Some people will say their nation, like Cherokee, or Creek. People say "what is that.? " Native People wil say "Native American." Non-Native people will say my father is native to the Carolinas and we've been here forever. Native People will say "Indian." Non-Native people will say, "Now I know what you're talking about." So, it depends on what the Nation or the individual will use to get across to Non-natives who they are.

_MES_SCHOOL_1ST_GRADE_: What would a good Thanksgiving Feast consist of?

Plimoth_Plantation: Randy: Today, at my home, we have turkey with all the trimmings, macaroni and cheese, jag (which is rice and beans and linguica or choirico), and different pies.

Plimoth_Plantation: Patience: For us, a day of Thanksgiving is a religious day. It is a day of prayer and mostly fasting (not eating). For a harvest celebration, after a good harvest is gotten in, we might have turkey and venison, bread, and pottages.

Scholastic_Admin: We received so many wonderful questions! Thank you to all the participants and to Randy and Patience at the Plimoth Plantation.


  • Subjects:
    Reading, Social Studies, Native American History, Early Exploration and Settlements, Pilgrims, Communities and Ways of Life, United States, Indigenous Peoples, Native American, Historic Figures, Individuals, Groups, Institutions, Thanksgiving
  • Skills:
    Social Studies