Thanksgiving’s Story Told in a Vanishing American Language

Thanksgiving, Pilgrim Farming

A new film could be a vehicle for saving a dying American Indian tongue.

The saga of the first Thanksgiving at Plymouth Rock has been told, for the most part, in just one language: English.  The voices of the Native Americans who were there—speaking in their own languages—have usually been left out.

The new film Saints & Strangers, which recounts the events surrounding the arrival of the Mayflower in the New World in the autumn of 1620, attempts to change that. In this telling, Native Americans are as much at the heart of the story as the Pilgrims. And those Native Americans are speaking in a native tongue, in a language called Western Abenaki.

“This was a huge challenge,” says Jesse Bowman Bruchac, 44, a fluent speaker of the language, who coached the film’s Native American actors on how to deliver their lines in Western Abenaki. (Watch Bruchac on the set of the film.)

The language has just a handful of living speakers. But Western Abenaki becomes a character of sorts in Saints & Strangers, creating a living window into personality, history and culture.

Abenaki is an amalgamation of a vast group of Algonquin languages once spoken throughout what’s now New England, including Vermont, New Hampshire, and parts of eastern Canada.

With the exception of one character whose role is to interpret for the Pilgrims, every line of native dialogue is delivered in Abenaki.

(Read “What They Ate at the First Thanksgiving.”)

By giving voice to real historical figures like the Wampanoag Indian chief Massasoit, his counselor and head warrior Hobbamock and the Patuxet interpreter Squanto—who served as a liaison to the religious Pilgrims and adventurer-outcasts of the Plymouth colony—the film is also a vehicle for growing efforts to keep endangered native languages from extinction.

Bruchac hopes that Saints & Strangers becomes a “permanent” audio record for future generations and for anyone who wants to learn Abenaki, which has just 12 fluent speakers left … read more plus vids —>

On The Menu, First Thanksgiving Meal

Thanksgiving DinnerA, 1st, NatGeo-crop
The feast, held in 1621 at the Plymouth Plantation in Massachusetts, was very different from the Thanksgiving dinner that we enjoy today. It went on for three whole days, and the colonists and their Native guests probably didn’t sit at a table or use forks. Staples of modern Thanksgiving—like pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce—weren’t even served.

So what did they eat? While nobody knows the full menu, based upon various sources, it’s possible at least to make some educated guesses.

  1. Goose and duck. Edward Winslow, a colonial leader, wrote a 1621 letter in which he described how Gov. William Bradford had sent four men out to hunt for fowl for the feast. Though the letter doesn’t specify which birds, Nathaniel Philbrick, author of “Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community and War,” notes that migratory geese and ducks were plentiful in the area during the autumn, so it seems likely that they were among the foods served.
  2. Venison. We definitely know that this meat was served at the first Thanksgiving feast. The Native American guests at the feast—who actually outnumbered the Pilgrims—brought along with them five deer, according to Winslow.
  3. Fish. In the autumn, striped bass, bluefish and cod were abundant in local waters, according to Philbrick, and he thinks they may have been eaten that day.
  4. Turkey. In a 1621 letter, Bradford commented on the “great store of wild turkeys” that the colonists had hunted. So it seems possible, or even likely, that turkey was on the menu, even though Winslow didn’t specifically mention it in his description of the event. Turkey already was a popular gourmet food on the other side of the Atlantic, ever since Spanish conquerors returned in the early 1500s with birds that had been domesticated by the Aztecs.
  5. Lobster and mussels. In Winslow’s letter, he describes the local abundance of these aquatic animals as well, so it’s conceivable that they were on the menu.
  6. Stew. The colonists liked to make what they called pottages, in which various meats and vegetables were tossed in, according to Philbrick.
  7. Beer. The Pilgrims liked beer, which they brought with them on the Mayflower. The 1621 harvest had yielded a crop of barley, which for the first time made it possible for the colonists to make their own home brew, according to Philbrick.
  8. Cornbread. The colonists had just harvested their initial corn crop, so it would have been appropriate to include it on the menu. But it wasn’t the sweet yellow corn that we serve today as a side dish. Instead, they raised Indian corn, which was dried and pounded into meal for baking.
  9. Pumpkin. While the Pilgrims didn’t make pumpkin pies, it’s conceivable that they served stewed pumpkin or bread made from pumpkin and corn meal, both of which were eaten by colonists, according to Alice Morse Earle’s 1898 book “Home Life in Colonial Days.”
  10. Squash. This was another crop from the 1621 harvest, so it may have been served at the feast as well. The Native American style of preparation was to boil or roast it.

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Most Thrilling Hikes In The World – Pacaya Volcano


Hearts of Homes In Kitchens Around The World

Kitchens may differ drastically around the world, but their role as the center of a home is universal. Whether makeshift or filled with modern appliances, kitchens are a space for family bonding, holiday traditions and child rearing.

Mutton Pies, NatGeoMutton Pies

Uygurs, a Muslim ethnic minority in China’s Xinjiang region, make mutton pies in a restaurant kitchen.

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San Diego’s Historic Hotel Del ……

Hotel Del Coronado, facebook

Hotel del Coronado:
(also known as The Del and Hotel Del) is a beachfront luxury hotel in the city of Coronado, just across the San Diego Bay from San Diego, California. It is one of the few surviving examples of an American architectural genre: the wooden Victorian beach resort. It is one of the oldest and largest all-wooden buildings in California and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1977, and is a designated California Historical Landmark.
When it opened in 1888, it was the largest resort hotel in the world. It has hosted presidents, royalty, and celebrities through the years.

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200-Year-Old Crypts Buried Just a Few Feet Below Greenwich Village

Workers digging near New York’s iconic Washington Square Park have uncovered two burial chambers. The crypts house coffins and human bones thought to be about 200 years old.

So far the team has identified more than a dozen coffins in the vaults, which could have been part of the burial grounds of one of two now-defunct Presbyterian churches, according to archaeologist Alyssa Loorya, owner of Chrysalis, the company tasked with investigating the site.

Loorya soon hopes to be able to make out nameplates positioned atop the coffins. One of the crypts, which she says had clearly been disturbed by human hands, includes a pile of skulls and other bones that seem to have been stacked in the corner after the bodies disintegrated.

“We knew that we could be encountering some human remains,” says associate commissioner Tom Foley of New York’s Department of Design and Construction. That’s part of why the group has been working with archaeologists since beginning its $9-million project to install a water main running from the east to west sides of town. “As you peel away the asphalt and concrete face of this city, you find its history.”

From 1797 through 1825, the location served as a “potter’s field,” a public burial ground. Experts estimate that tens of thousands of decomposed bodies lay beneath the stones that line the park and its pathways. After the land became a city park in 1827, a military parade that featured cannons reportedly overturned stones and revealed yellow shrouds covering the remains of people who died during yellow fever outbreaks.

Foley has firsthand experience unearthing Manhattan’s historical mysteries. Previous construction projects came upon artifacts including … read more —>

14 Years Photographing World’s Oldest Trees

Beth Moon, a photographer based in San Francisco, has been searching for the world’s oldest trees for the past 14 years. She has traveled all around the globe to capture the most magnificent trees that grow in remote locations and look as old as the world itself.

“Standing as the earth’s largest and oldest living monuments, I believe these symbolic trees will take on a greater significance, especially at a time when our focus is directed at finding better ways to live with the environment” writes Moon in her artist statement.

Sixty of Beth Moon’s duotone photos were published in a book titled “Ancient Trees: Portraits Of Time”. Here you can have a sneak preview of the book, full of strangest and most magnificent trees ever.

ancient-trees-beth-moon, BoredPanda

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