Upending 1620: Where Do We Begin?

August 2, 2021 – Ongoing

Plymouth Rock fragment with painted inscription, 1830

National Museum of American History
1300 Constitution Ave., NW
Washington, DC

2nd Floor, Center Floor Plan

Upending 1620: Where Do We Begin? is a display that examines the early encounters between Wampanoag peoples and English colonists, and the important legacies of those encounters over the next 400 years. Those initial meetings became the subject of powerful myths, when later Americans reimagined the English as "Pilgrims" and founders of the U.S. nation. Exploring the evidence that upends these myths highlights Wampanoag experience and persistence through the centuries, and invites a fuller understanding of the colonists’ views and motivations as well. Audiences will be able to look at the origins and evolution of Thanksgiving and the emergence of the National Day of Mourning, a protest first organized in 1970 in an effort to counter the Pilgrim myths. Objects on display include a 1998 Day of Mourning protest banner, a Wampanoag wood splint burden basket, and a handmade Narragansett drum as well as fragments of Plymouth Rock, and a chest that descended in the family of a Mayflower voyager.