Native American Books that Explore Thanksgiving and Giving Thanks


Native American Books that Explore Thanksgiving

and Giving Thanks


This year, I’ve decided  my  first Thanksgiving post should have books by Native American authors. Much of what we think we know about the first Thanksgiving is incorrect. These books will help give us a better understanding of that first Thanksgiving and of  a few Native American cultures.


To find books for this post I read several Native American sites for recommendations. Wednesday’s Parent Post will have more information.


  1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving by Catherine O’Neill Grace and Margaret M. Bruchac

This book tries to put aside the myths about the first Thanksgiving. It is based on the research done at Plimouth Plantation, which is a living history museum of 17th century Plymouth, Massachusetts. Many of the photographs in the book were taken during a reenactment of the 1621 harvest gathering. The text is at a middle school level.


Product Details  Giving Thanks: The 1621 Harvest Feast by Kate Waters, illustrated by Russ Kendall

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The people at Plimouth Plantation hold a reenactment of the first Thanksgiving, based on their research. With text and photos, this book follows two boys who are part of the reenactment. The last pages have more about the 1621 feast.


  Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message by Chief Jake Swamp

The author is a member of the Mohawk Nation. There is a Mohawk tradition to begin each day by giving thanks to Mother Earth. It starts, Mother Earth, we thank you for giving us everything we need. Based on a traditional poem, the original is on the last page. The illustrations are lovely.


Product Details The Circle of Thanks: Native American Poems and Songs of Thanksgiving told by Joseph Bruchac, illustrated by Murv Jacob

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This book has poems based on traditional Native American songs and prayers. They represent 14 Native American cultures. The last pages contain more information about the poems.


Product Details  The Sacred Harvest by Gordon Regguinti, illustrated by Dale Kakkak

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Eleven-year-old Glen is excited to start the day. He’s gathering wild rice for the first time. Wild rice (called mahnomin) is the sacred food of the Ojibway people. The book follows Glen and his father as they pole their way through the tall rice grass that grows along the river. This is part of the We are Still Here series. Two other books in the series:

Ininatig’s Gift of Sugar: Traditional Native Sugarmaking by Laura Waterman Wittstock, illustrated be Dale Kakkak

Clambake: A Wampanoag Tradition by Russell M. Peters, illustrated by John Madama


  Tapenum’s Day: A Wampanoag Indian Boy in Pilgrim Times by Kate Waters, illustrated by Russ Kendall

This book follows Tapenum and his Wampanoag family as they lived in the 1600s: their homes, clothing, food, and weapons. The photo illustrations are taken at Plimouth Plantation in Massachusetts. The last pages have more information about the Wampanoag people.


I hope you will consider looking at Thanksgiving in non-traditional ways. I’ll have more information and websites to explore on Wednesday.

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