Keepunumu: Weeâchumun's Thanksgiving Story


In this Wampanoag story told in a Native tradition, two kids from the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe learn the story of Weeâchumun (corn) and the first Thanksgiving. 

The Thanksgiving story that most Americans know celebrates the Pilgrims. But without members of the Wampanoag tribe who already lived on the land where the Pilgrims settled, the Pilgrims would never have made it through their first winter. And without Weeâchumun (corn), the Native people wouldn't have helped.

An important picture book honoring both the history and tradition that surrounds the story of the first Thanksgiving. ---from the publisher

32 pages                                  978-1623542900                           Ages 4-8

Keywords:  Thanksgiving, American history, Native Americans, customs and traditions, 4 year old, 5 year old, 6 year old, 7 year old, 8 year old


Thanksgiving is a holiday that many of us can remember celebrating in school by making paper Pilgrim hats or eating pumpkin pie, turkey, and dressing in the cafeteria. In recent years teachers have begun to search for more information about the First Peoples and their role in helping the colonists survive until that first harvest. Author Danielle Greendeer is a citizen of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and tells the story in the Wampanoag tradition, incorporating the Three Sisters of Corn, Beans, and Squash (shown on the cover with the forms of plants and humans). The story weaves in the figures of Ousamequin (Massasoit) and Tisquantum (Squanto), explaining how Tisquantum was sent to teach the colonists how to nurture the Three Sisters.

The acrylic illustrations show the animals and plants of the Wampanoag tribal lands, the traditional dress worn by the First Peoples at that time, as well as the colonists in their English clothing. The narrative is framed within the conversation of a grandmother sharing the story with her grandchildren of that first Keepunumuk (harvest time) that the colonists and First Peoples held together. Rather than having a glossary in the back of the book, important words from the Wopanaak language are defined at the beginning. There is also a brief introduction to explain who the Wampanoag are and why the term First Peoples is used.

This is a welcome addition to the narrative that children are already acquainted with, bringing the perspective of the other half of the group present at that first celebration that some call Thanksgiving, but reminding us that it also has other names and traditions associated with it.

Recommended by: Suzanne Costner, Teacher Librarian, Tennessee USA

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