Thanksgiving Myths and What They Don’t Tell Us

Narragansett Tribal Preservation Officer and Medicine Man John Brown III (above left) was joined Dr. Paul Robinson, former Rhode Island State Archaeologist, for a 90-minute presentation on November 15, 2022 at the Rochambeau Community Library. Click here for an enhanced video recording of their talk on YouTube. Using closed captions may help in some portions.

Dr. Robinson was part of the team that explored the Nipsachuck Area and the Mattity Swamp Area in Smithfield, RI where Talcott’s Attack took place on July 1-2, 1676 near the end of King Philip’s War. He then referred to the work of Dr. Kevin McBride in 2014 that mapped the distribution of dropped and impacted musket balls in the battlefield area (click above maps for more detail).

Dr. Robinson then contrasts Talcott’s Attack with the image that J.L.G. Ferris painted in 1912 of the First Thanksgiving that was based on Edward Winslow’s description in a letter written to a friend in on December 13, 1621. This was contrasted with Miles Standish’s attack on Native People at Wessagussett two years later.

Robinson concludes with descriptions of the attack on Mystic Village in 1637 and the Great Swamp Massacre during King Philip’s War in which hundreds of Native People were slaughtered, leading to a full scale war against them in 1675-76. The presentation concluded with John Brown’s responses to questions from the audience.