Rethinking Schools). Fortunately, historical sites such as Plimoth Plantation are pushing the alternative perspectives approach and (even better) are giving students the opportunity to examine the evidence. Since few students outside of the New England area get the opportunity to visit the historic site, Plimoth Plantation has created an excellent online learning module that lets students sift through facts and myths to re-envision the history of the First Thanksgiving. Activities such as the "Path to 1621" let the user examine how the Wampanoag and the settlers viewed similar events quite differently. More importantly, in the section, "The Evidence," students get to examine the only source that mentions (and vaguely, at best) the First Thanksgiving.
Online learning module from plimoth.orgAn important question students should ask is, "Why do we recognize the 1620 settlement of Plimoth as the site for the First Thanksgiving?" It is because it was the first non-Native settlement in the present-day United States? (In 1526, enslaved Africans abandoned by their Spanish captors attempted a settlement in what is now South Carolina.) Is it because it is the first settlement established for religious freedom? (Spanish Jews settled what is now New Mexico in the late 1500s). Is it because it was the first English Colony? (English entrepreneurs settled Jamestown in 1607.) Or does it have more to do with what happened in 1863? (See Loewen, 2007, Lies My Teacher Told Me, pp. 71 & 90.)
An important message from plimoth.org: "Past" and "History" are NOT synonyms