Massasoit's wrinkled eyes narrowed as he watched the red sun peek over the great Atlantic horizon from whence the white men came. The warm rays bathed the frosty ground, filled the pine-scented air with a new day, a new hope, a new beginning for his people. His people were the Wampanoag.
He watched the sun set the previous evening--the event along with many sunsets and the graying of his hair seemed to signal the end. His people were decimated by infectious disease. The Narragansett tribe, an age-old enemy, were powerful and plenty--they threatened to wipe out what remained of the Wampanoag.
Massasoit was the chief of a people who had hunted, fished and grew corn for thousands of years on a land that is now known as New England. The survival of his people depended on making new alliances, but who would have imagined that the very people who brought the infectious disease to this land would now be his friends and would welcome the Wampanoag to their annual harvest festival?
The sunlight revealed his high cheekbones and lines etched on a face that has seen so much of life and so much of death. His statuesque silhouette stood tall; his arms were spread-eagle above his head. He was one with the hill where he stood and the hill and he were one with the great mother Earth.
He prayed that there would be giving and thanks between the whites and his people. But who were they exactly? Who were these pilgrims who came across the great waters in their giant canoe--the Mayflower? Will they really be good allies? How well will they defend against a Narragansett attack? There were only 53 of them left. Many of them women and children.
He had cause to worry that his people, even with the help of the whites, would be slaughtered. He decided, however, to leave the worrying to squaws--he was a warrior, a chief, so he took in the morning sun and looked forward to the Thanksgiving feast at Plymouth later that day.