Why the Wampanoag Signed a Peace Treaty with the Pilgrims


In March 1621, representatives of the Wampanoag Confederacythe Indigenous people of the region that is now southeastern Massachusettsnegotiated a treaty with a group of English settlers who had arrived on the Mayflower several months earlier and were struggling to build a life for themselves in Plymouth Colony.

The peace accord, which would be honored on both sides for the next half-century, was the first official treaty between English settlers and Native Americans, and a rare example of cooperation between the two groups. On the orders of their leader, Ousamequin (known to the settlers as Massasoit), the Wampanoags taught the English men and women how to plant crops, where to fish and hunt, and other skills that would prove critical to the new colony’s survival. To celebrate the first harvest at Plymouth, Governor William Bradford and the other settlers invited the Wampanoags for a celebratory feast in November 1621, now remembered as the first Thanksgiving.


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