Remembering the first Thanksgiving
Local historian’s artifacts bring Native American history to life.
With a spirit drum in one hand, a bear claw necklace around his neck and arrowheads spread out in front of him, Marlyn Wolf shared a bit of Native American history with Dudley Elementary second graders who had been learning about Thanksgiving and its origins.Wolf was quick to tell the students his heritage is German and English but he’s been studying the Native America culture for the past 18 years.
“They would probably call me a drug-store Indian,” Wolf said.
Still, the authentic items he shared with the children helped them understand a little more about the Native American way of life and how things may have been that first Thanksgiving so long ago.
Wolf uses the Native American name Runing Fox.
“I spell runing with only one ‘n’ because two would make it a white man’s word,” Wolf said. “Native Americans had no use for white men.”
Students found great interest in the war clothes, the knives and scrapers made from rock and arrows that may have been used by Native American people.
Wolf shared with them his knowledge of the sacredness of the eagle to Native Americans, explained how every part of the bison was used and told the story of the mythical thunderbird.
In Native American mythology, Wolf said, the thunderbird produces thunder from the beating of its wings and flashes lightning from its eyes.
“I lived most of my life in Frontier County not far from Medicine Creek,” he said. “There is a lot of Native American heritage there.”
When Wolf retired from farming and moved to Gothenburg 18 years ago, he delved deeper into his hobby and began learning more about Native American artifacts.
Wolf’s visit with Gothenburg second-graders brought to life part of a unit on Thanksgiving.
In addition to studying Native Americans, the students learned about pilgrims including the daily life of a pilgrim child, how the pilgrims used an abacus to help them with math and their journey to a new land on the Mayflower.