Aquinnah: History of Thanksgiving

—MV Times

Oh, my friends, it feels like we are barreling towards another lockdown with our COVID-19 cases rising and rising. I had high hopes for this winter, but they are falling lower every day. I fear when this pandemic is over that we will all be touched by this disease in some way we don’t want to be. While we pride ourselves at being able to withstand high levels of isolation living in Aquinnah, I am concerned about the people who are alone in their homes and will spend the winter with few people to interact with. That kind of isolation takes its toll on one’s mental health and can cause devastating loneliness. If you do know some people who are alone, please do your best to check on them regularly. It can make a huge difference.

There was a conversation with David Vanderhoop, Aquinnah Wampanoag, and David J. Silverman, author of “This Land Is Their Land: The Wampanoag Indians, Plymouth Colony, and the Troubled History of Thanksgiving,” this past Tuesday at the M.V. Museum. It was about the problematic and at times false narrative of Thanksgiving. I’m hoping that it was recorded. Boston University will host a virtual community conversation with Jonathan James Perry this Thursday, Nov. 19, from 5 to 6 pm, titled “Truth Be Told: Wampanoag Nation and Thanksgiving as We Know It.” If you would like to attend, then email

Due to the rise in COVID-19 cases, the special town meeting that was supposed to happen this past Saturday was cancelled. There is no information yet as to when it will be rescheduled. There are 12 articles to be voted on; the warrant can be found on the town website. In other official Aquinnah news, we currently have 422 registered voters in Aquinnah, and 355 of them voted in the past election. That’s a pretty engaged electorate we have here — good job everyone.

Pathways Gathering Space has announced they will not be presenting live events in Chilmark, but they are inviting all musicians, dancers, artists, playwrights, etc., to use the space for rehearsals and taped performances (using mandated safe practices of course). They are set up, as per usual, in the Chilmark Tavern space, and you can call to reserve a time to use the space at 508-645-9098, or email them via their website at You can also reach out to them to discuss presenting your work on their website or via Zoom.

While Pathways is in the main part of the Chilmark Tavern, Jenna Petersiel is still operating the Chilmark Tavern, with Chef Andrew Burkill in the kitchen, Thursday through Monday nights for take-out only. You can order online at, or call 508-645-9400 to place an order. The goal is to stay open as late into the year as possible. During the week of Thanksgiving, the Tavern will be closed from Monday, Nov. 23, through Friday, Nov. 27, but they will reopen on Saturday, Nov. 28.

The Little House Café in Vineyard Haven is now under new ownership, although they are keeping many of the delicious favorites that we have come to know. In good news for up-Islanders, they are testing the concept of “Up-Island Drops.” If you live up-Island and don’t want to drive all the way to Vineyard Haven to pick up your dinner, they will bring it to Alley’s for you. You need to place your order by 5 pm, and they will deliver it to Alley’s at 6 pm. You can call them at 508-687-9794. Their menu is online at

Happy Birthday to sometime Aquinnah resident, Ngina Johnson, who celebrates on Saturday. Congratulations to Noni Smith who has graduated and is now a licensed hairdresser. I am delighted that Noni is sharing her great sense of style with the rest of us. I look forward to her opening her own salon once the pandemic is over.

If you have any Aquinnah Town Column suggestions, email Molly Purves,