As Thanksgiving approaches, I find myself thinking more of the Wabenaki and French who inhabited this region from 1605 to 1755 than I do of the Puritans who attacked them. I do this as a descendant of leaders from all three groups spurred to action in that time.

My story begins with Sachem Membertou, a Mi’kmaq man who traded extensively with the fishermen who sparked European interest in the region. As a young man he encountered Jacques Cartier, who was mapping the coast and seeking a place to settle to establish French claim to the region in 1535. He’d speak of this upon meeting members of Pierre Du Gua’s expedition, as it sought to recover from a nearly fatal attempt to settle at the mouth of the Saint Croix River in 1604.

Membertou would aid these struggling settlers by escorting them to the peninsula we call Nova Scotia, where they’d find land suited to the farming methods they were accustomed to using. They’d call this place Acadia. The first “thanks-giving” occurred there and it gave rise to a new people: the Métis.The first Métis were born to the daughters of Membertou. Believing their future lay in the relations they’d establish with France, these young women and others among the Mi’kmaq would wed French men. Their children would be the first to honor Native American and European customs.

Within the communities they established, the cultural exchanges we think of most when we think of Thanksgiving occurred on a daily basis.

Jamie Beaulieu, Farmington

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