[review] Keepunumuk: Weeâchumun’s Thanksgiving Story by Danielle Greendeer, Anthony Perry, Alexis Bunten and Garry Meeches Sr.

Did you know that while most Americans celebrate the fourth Thursday in November as a day of thanksgiving, many Native Americans consider it a day of mourning?

The Wampanoag had inhabited Southeastern Massachusetts for thousands of years before the Mayflower Pilgrims arrived in 1620. This illuminating new picture book tells the story of the first Thanksgiving from a Native American perspective.

We first hear a conversation between a contemporary Wampanoag grandmother, N8hkumuhs (NOO-kuh-mus), and her grandchildren Maple and Quill. They are curious to learn how Weeâchumun, the Guardian Spirit of Corn, asked their ancestors to help the Pilgrims. 

“The first Thanksgiving?” Maple asked.

“Some people call it that,” N8hkumuhs said. “We call it Keepunumuk, the time of harvest. Here’s what really happened.”

Weeâchumun grew concerned when a large boat with white sails approached the shore one fall day. Who were these new people? Could she trust them? It had been two winters since many of the First Peoples who had cared for her had passed on to the Spirit World. Would this winter be her last? She called upon Fox to keep an eye on the newcomers.

As fall turned to winter, Fox watched the newcomers travel inland, enter the forest, and build homes on top of an empty village. Though they diligently searched for food, it was never enough, and many died from cold, starvation and disease. Unlike the others who’d come to hunt, fish, and trade years before, these newcomers seemed different: they were here to stay.

When spring arrived, Weeâchumun and her two sisters, Beans and Squash, awoke from their winter slumber. They pushed through the ground and reached for the sky as the sun warmed the earth.

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