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Posted on Friday, November 25 - 2005

" The European settlers who were present at the first Thanksgiving in 1621 thought the Native Americans were wild Israelites who had lost their "civilized" ways after living in the New World wilderness, according to a U.S. historian.The theory, which is outlined in a recent press..."

The First Thanksgiving

The European settlers who were present at the first Thanksgiving in 1621 thought the Native Americans were wild Israelites who had lost their "civilized" ways after living in the New World wilderness, according to a U.S. historian.The theory, which is outlined in a recent press release and is supported by several other American colonial history scholars, suggests one reason why tensions often mounted between the Native Americans and the Europeans.It also foreshadows the later missionary work by other Europeans, many of whom felt they were turning the Native Americans back to their former beliefs. "The Europeans thought the NativeAmericans were a lost Israeli tribe that had been blown off course and landed in America," said Mark Miller, a history professor at Roanoke College in Virginia who specializes in American history from the colonial and Civil War periods.

"They thought the tribe arrived as civilized men and women, but became savages after living in the wilderness." Miller added, "For fear of contact with the savages, laws were enacted which forbade European settlers to touch or look at the Indians." According to the Web site of The Nahum Goldmann Museum of the Jewish Diaspora in Tel Aviv, Israel, the European settlers believed in the lost "Ten Tribes of Israel," and likely thought that one of these missing tribes wound up in America. These tribes were said to be part of the original twelve 12 that conquered Canaan, believed to be "the PromisedLand." The Assyrians, in turn, conquered the Kingdom of Israel in 721 B.C. This resulted in either the assimilation or deportation of the tribes of Israel. The tribes' fate was never fully documented, so the Pilgrims thought anything was possible. According to the site, the supposed Israelite-Native American link remained popular through the late 18th century, during which time European exploration of the continent increased, as did necessary trade with Native Americans. Carolyn Travers, research manager at Plimoth Plantation, a Plymouth, Mass. living history museum that recreates Pilgrim-era life, told Discovery News that she agreed some, if not all, of the Pilgrims thought the Native Americans hailed from Israel. "They had to come from somewhere, and the lost tribe origin struck them as being very plausible and authoritative," said Travers. "You must tryto i......

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