BOSTON (CBS) — There was a historic kickoff in Boston to commemorate an event that changed the world, the landing of the Mayflower in what is now Massachusetts. Next year marks the 400th anniversary of that landing.
But the New England Historic Genealogical Society set the scene Wednesday, unveiling a large scale replica of the ship, and a tribute to the Wampanoag people who were here long before the Pilgrims. They also christened a replica of the Mayflower with both pieces of art installed outside the Newbury St. headquarters of the New England Historic Genealogical Society.
“Today is part of a four nation commemoration, hosted by the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and the sovereign people of the Wampanoag Nation,” Brenton Simons, the head of the Society told the crowd gathered to see the unveilings. It’s all to prepare for next year’s 400th anniversary of the arrival of the Mayflower and the settlement of what is now Plymouth.
Nancy Maulsby is descended from people who sailed on the ship. “It’s all about understanding how we’re all connected. We’re one big family, and we need to respect everybody’s ideals and goals,” she says.
The first governing document of the Plymouth Colony, the Mayflower Compact, planted the seeds of American democracy, but colonization also devastated native people. Organizers promise that won’t be lost during the commemoration.
“We wanted something that tied into genealogy, but we also wanted something that told the Wampanoag story,” says Steven Peters, a member of the Wampanoag tribe who created the artwork designed to start a conversation. “Unfortunately for the Native Americans it meant that they were being pushed off their own land and their way of living, and the catastrophic casualties of that are still being felt to this day,” he says.
The two pieces of art will be on display at 99 Newbury St. through next year and the Genealogical Society will host other exhibits and activities open to the public.