Ten Little Pilgrims and Indians
- Indian Comics Irregular #45
In a bookstore recently I came across the book "One Little, Two
Little, Three Little Pilgrims" by B.G. Hennessey. Since I was just
discussing the stereotypical "Ten Little Indians" song online
(http://members.xoom.com/peaceparty/stertype.htm), this was an
interesting coincidence. It raises the question of how children's
books are handling Thanksgiving these days.
To Hennessey's credit, the book scrupulously devotes equal time to
the Pilgrims and Indians. It also devotes equal time to boys and
girls. The book's twin refrains are:
"Ten little Pilgrim boys and girls"
"Ten little Wampanoag boys and girls"
So does perfect equality equal perfection? Hardly. These children
are so happy-go-lucky they should be in a Disney movie. A reader of
this book would never know the Pilgrims endured hardships.
Another children's book, "The Pilgrims' First Thanksgiving" by Ann
McGovern, mentions that "many" Pilgrims died and that Squanto taught
them how to gather and grow food. But even this account ignores many
pertinent facts. For instance:
· Only 35 of the 102 colonists aboard the Mayflower were
Pilgrims. Others were fortune-seekers fleeing the depression in
Europe or indentured servants.
· The colonists were supposed to join the tobacco plantations in
Virginia. They landed in Massachusetts because of a storm or a
navigation error, or perhaps because the leaders hijacked the
· The colonists didn't hack a home out of virgin wilderness, they
settled on the already cleared land of Squanto's decimated village,
Patuxet. Some took the Indians' belongings and even dug up their
· The colonists didn't introduce the idea of celebrating the
autumn harvest. The Eastern Indians had held such celebrations for
· Seventeen years after Squanto welcomed the Mayflower's Pilgrims,
the Englishmen and their Indian allies burned a Pequot village on
Connecticut's Mystic River while its inhabitants slept.
As James W. Loewen notes in his masterful "Lies My Teacher Told Me,"
Thanksgiving is an example of American myth-making: "Thanksgiving is
the occasion on which we give thanks to God as a nation for the
blessings that He [sic] hath bestowed on us. More than any other
celebration, more even than such overtly patriotic holidays as
Independence Day and Memorial Day, Thanksgiving celebrates our
Indeed. For a longer version of this article, including some useful
links, go to http://members.xoom.com/peaceparty/thnksgvg.htm.
Another example of American myth-making is the legend of Sacagawea.
Just thinking about the little woman, who stood by her men through
thick and thin, brings a tear to my eye. (Almost.)
Now you can see her story unfold live. The US Mint has a "time
machine" for kids to dramatize such coins as the Sacagawea dollar.
It's like a simple animated comic, which is why I mention it here.
Check it out at
For a modern look at Indian country, I've posted photos of my trip to
southern Arizona. From saguaro cacti to the Heard Museum, the land
is full of wonders. You can view the pix at
Blue Corn Comics