Tribe, 3 countries plan 400th Pilgrim anniversary in 2020

BOSTON — Native American leaders are teaming up with groups in the U.S., Britain and the Netherlands to ensure next year's commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrim landing showcases the harsh legacy of colonization.

Events are planned in all three countries in 2020 to reflect on the Pilgrims' arrival in 1620 in what is now Massachusetts.

Organizers gathered Thursday at the New England Historical Genealogical Society to firm up plans for yearlong remembrances of the Mayflower's voyage — and the disease, racism and oppression native people suffered after the European settlers arrived.

Wampanoag activist Paula Peters, who has been insisting on an unvarnished look back, said Friday the tribal perspective is getting "a lot of support."

Past commemorations have glossed over the suffering.

"We've been marginalized and sanitized," Peters said. "This isn't about restorative justice. We're not going to get that. But I feel like we're being given an ample platform to tell our story."

Commemorations also are planned in Britain and the Netherlands, where the Pilgrims spent more than a decade before sailing to the New World.

"This project explores centuries of shared history between Britain, Holland and America," said Charles Hackett, CEO of Mayflower 400, which is organizing events in Britain. British organizers hope to draw visitors there and "increase awareness of this pivotal event," Hackett said.

Michele Pecoraro, executive director of Plymouth 400 Inc., a nonprofit group organizing yearlong events, said the 2020 commemoration will differ markedly from the 350th anniversary in 1970, when the Native American voice was largely a footnote.

"The way the story is being told is different than past commemorations because each of the four nations involved are at the table together for the first time," she said.

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