The impact of the colonists’ arrival on the Native Americans who had long lived on that land has long been widely marginalised in the telling of Mayflower history.
Some 400 years later, the Wampanoag Nation were finally able to tell their story in Plymouth UK - the very city from where the Mayflower set sail for America.
For more than 12,000 years, the Wampanoag has inhabited present-day Massachusetts and Eastern Rhode Island - where the Mayflower passengers landed some four centuries ago.
Mayflower 400 saw them play a central role for the first time in a true four-nation commemoration between the Wampanoag Nation, the USA, the UK and the Netherlands.
‘We Are The Land’ in April 2023 was the culmination of a programme which has broken down barriers and created a lasting legacy for future generations on both sides of the Atlantic.
Arriving in Britain’s Ocean City, the People of the First Light proudly displayed their flag in front of the Mayflower Steps.
Warmly welcomed by the Lord Mayor of Plymouth, Cllr Sue Dann, they stood at the commemorative site where the Mayflower ship sailed from in September 1620, arriving on Wampanoag land later that year.
What followed was a moment of remarkable cultural and historical significance.
‘We Are The Land’ gave the Wampanoag National a long-awaited opportunity to tell their story on stage, on English soil, for the very first time.
A piece of drama with singing, dancing, drumming, and testimony, this incredible one-off performance in Theatre Royal Plymouth’s Lyric auditorium was followed by a week of workshops and performances in The Drum. They included:
- An afternoon with Linda Coombs, author, historian, and culture keeper from the Wampanoag Tribe
- A film showing and Q&A with Paula Peters (author of Mashpee Nine)
- A talk with the Ocean Conservation and Land Ownership and Q&A with Kitty Hendricks
‘We Are The Land’ was a legacy production of Mayflower 400 UK, an honest, broad and inclusive commemoration of the ship’s sailing from England to America and its often challenging legacy.
Mayflower 400 marked the 400th anniversary year from 2020 through 2021 like never before in history. For the first time, it went far beyond the story of the ‘Pilgrim Fathers’ and the one-dimensional version of the Mayflower voyage to examine the history of four nations from multiple angles, explore the experiences of those impacted and tell of the ruthless consequences of colonisation.
See the full Mayflower 400 Commemoration Programme here.
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