Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Massasoit and The First Thanksgiving


For a little Thanksgiving education with your kids, take them to the….. Utah State Capitol?!

If you have ever been to the Utah State Capitol building, you have probably noticed a large Native American statue by the East entrance. It used to be on the front lawn, in front of the building, but with the recent construction it was moved where it rests now on the East side. You can find the statue on this map below, #7.

The person in the statue is Massasoit, also known as “friend to the Pilgrims”.

mapClick on map to enlarge

Who was Massasoit?

Massasoit was the leader of the Wampanoag tribe. Long story short, Massasoit and his tribe taught the pilgrims about planting successful crops, and in turn helped save the Plymouth Colony. To celebrate and give thanks for their first successful crop, the pilgrims had a feast and invited Massasoit and the Wampanoag tribe to feast with them. This became known as “The First Thanksgiving”.

Why do we have a statue of Massasoit at the Utah State Capitol?

The Massasoit sculpture at the Utah State Capitol is by Utah artist Cyrus E. Dallin. He was known for his Native American subjects, but is also well-known to Utahns as the creator of the Angel Moroni atop the Salt Lake Temple.

He constructed the original Massasoit statue at Plymouth Rock in 1921. The original plaster figure was given to Dallin and displayed for years in the Capitol Rotunda. In 1927, a duplication of the statue in bronze was created and placed in front of the capitol in 1959.

Other casts are at Brigham Young University, Springville Museum of Art, Mill Creek Park, (Kansas City, Missouri) and Dayton Art Institute, (Dayton, Ohio).

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