Thanksgiving – the original Prepper Holiday
I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving Dinner planned with friends and family, good food, and perhaps some gathering around the TV to watch some sporting events. As you do, I also hope you remember that the first Thanksgiving back in 1621 was kind of a prepper holiday.
I headed over to The History Channel to look up facts for the first Thanksgiving and see how this really evolved. 102 Pilgrims seeking religious freedom and a crew of about 30 headed to the New World in early September 1621, they arrived at the tip of Cape Cod on 9 November. They spent the winter aboard the ship suffering from scurvy, hungry and disease and lost about half their number. In the spring they dis-embarked and set up some huts on shore.
On shore they met an English speaking Native American (who would have thunk that?) who introduced them to another English speaking Native American named Squanto from the Pawtuxet tribe. He helped teach the Pilgrims how to cultivate corn, extract sap from Maple trees, catch fish and ID poisonous plants. He also helped them establish friendship with the Wampanoag tribe, an alliance that lasted over 50 years.
After a successful harvest that fall, the governor organized a feast and invited their Indian allies to join in their celebration. Not sure if they had Turkey and mashed potatoes but there you have the first Thanksgiving.
Ok, so what lessons can a Prepper glean from the first Thanksgiving?
1-relocating to a unexplored area in the fall / onset of winter is not the best time to select for their move – the winter made it difficult for them to dis-embark and start setting up permanent shelter. Additionally, they had to rely on the food stocks they brought with them – they could not forage during the winter or plant crops immediately to replenish their food. I don’t know the exact circumstances in England that made them decide to leave in September but if possible, they should have waited until Spring to start their journey.
Now there may have been a very good reason they could not wait and as you go through your prep plan – you may have to bug out regardless of the time of year, weather conditions, etc. Which is why now is a good time to identify some places you would move to if you a have to bug out and see if you can pre-position some supplies / set up a shelter at your destination. Look at one of our previous articles “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” for a more detailed discussion.
2-cramped quarters led to disease and numerous deaths. While we have a much better understanding of nutition and how diseases spread today than they did in the 17th century, you can expect that after TSHTF, there are going to be numerous people on the move and the potential for over-crowding of facilities. This can lead to rapid spread of diseases with disastrous effects. Even with a harsh winter, the pilgrims should have been looking to establish some shelter on shore so they could spread out and segregate the sick from the healthy.
Whereever you establish your safe haven, you might have visitors. Invite family and friends to help bloster your numbers and improve your security (and the viability of your community) but make sure you have sufficient food and space for everyone before you start exposing your family to the risk of disease from others. Plan for everyone you have included in your bug out / safe haven plan and then plan for some extra space.
3-how lucky to have established friendly contact with the natives and they spoke English! The Pilgrims were traveling to a New World and they had no expertise in the native flora and fauna (or knowledge of the indigenous people and their customs or language). Wherever you plan to relocate to, don’t rely on your luck to meet a friendly native, do some study of the area: what grows there naturally? What type of soil and climate does it have? Get to know as much as you can about living off the land in your new location or you might not be as lucky as the Pilgrims were.
4-in the end, Thanksgiving was about being grateful for making it through a tough voyage, a harsh winter, and having allies that helped them establish a viable colony and a successful harvest.
Let’s review what we can learn from the Pilgrims and the First Thanksgiving:
- When you plan your movements, consider the seasons and the weather. If you don’t have to make the move in adverse conditions – why would you?
- If you can, preposition supplies and erect shelter at your destination. The time to do that is now. You never know what conditions may necessitate your move – you never know how much stuff you will be able to bring with you.
- On the move, practice good hygiene and preventative medicine just as you do every day. Don’t be a victim of your own neglect or poor planning
- Study the conditions at your destination – know as much as you can before you go.
- When you arrive – determine who are your neighbors and what synergies you may have with them. Better to have friends and allies next to you than enemies and adversaries.
What else can we learn from the First Thanksgiving - put your comments below....
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