With Thanksgiving right around the corner, it’s time to give thanks to those brave men and women who came before us.
We are all familiar with the story of the first Thanksgiving, where the Pilgrims and the Native Americans shared a meal together to celebrate a successful harvest.
But rarely do we take the time to consider what the Pilgrims went through on their journey to the New World and the building of their new community.
They suffered greatly.
History Net explains, “Most settlers died within months of landing, as did 52 people aboard the Mayflower. In Virginia, all 127 members of the first Roanoke settlement in 1587 simply vanished. In Jamestown, 66 of the first 104 settlers died within a year of landing in 1607, and another 440 followed them to the grave by 1610.”
However, those who remained persevered. America would not be what it is today (we would not be who we are today) if it were not for the Pilgrims whose survival skills enabled them to overcome the obstacles they faced.
Should we ever find ourselves in a new environment, stranded in the wilderness, or facing a natural or manmade disaster, we would do well to remember the following survival skills from the Pilgrims.
1. They Knew Their Neighbors
Fostering a relationship with their Native American neighbors proved to be lifesaving.
Many of the Pilgrims who traveled to the New World were not outdoorsmen. Many lived in busy towns where they shopped for goods, such as baked bread.
When they arrived in the New World, they relied on the Native Americans to learn new skills and how to live off the land.
If it hadn’t been for Native Americans, such as Squanto, who taught them these skills, they would not have survived.
We take a lot of pride in our self-sufficiency, but, truthfully, it is always wise to know your neighbors.
When disaster strikes, those closest to you will likely be the first ones you turn to for help.
[Related Read: What Early American Small Towns Teach Us about Survival]
2. They Used What They Had
The Pilgrims didn’t know exactly what they would need to build in the New World, so they took what they thought they would need.
History shows they were unprepared. However, they found ways to use what they had to the best of their ability.
For example, when they arrived, they continued to use the Mayflower for shelter until there were enough homes built on the land for the families. Then, they used the wood they found to build homes.
Their resourcefulness and inventiveness proved lifesaving.
Should you find yourself in an emergency situation, try to think outside of the box. What tools do you have that can be used in new, different ways?
3. They Worked Together
Everyone played their part.
They all worked together to achieve a common goal – survival in the New World.
In fact, they even followed an agreement known as the Mayflower Compact.
According to the History Channel, “It has been argued the Mayflower Compact’s role in cementing the colonists’ dedication to each other and their mission was critical to their endurance that first winter.”
Today, it is just as wise to work with others. Take note of those in your circle who practice preparedness. Get to know your local homesteaders and farmers. Befriend those who will prove helpful if SHTF.
4. They Bartered for Goods
One of the most lifesaving survival skills the Pilgrims practiced was bartering.
Their relationship with Squanto allowed them to establish a trading system with the Native Americans in the area.
They exchanged European goods, such as metal cooking utensils and weapons, for food and other necessities.
We don’t know what the future holds, but simply having items or skills that can be bartered will provide peace of mind.
[Related Read: Top 10 Bartering Items + Skills Every Prepper Needs]
5. They Grew and Found Their Own Food
The entire reason we have a Thanksgiving holiday is that the Pilgrims wanted to celebrate a successful harvest.
When the Mayflower arrived, it was during a harsh winter. They lost many of those who took the journey with them.
With the help of the Native Americans, they learned how to grow their own food, fish, and hunt to survive in the new environment.
Knowing how to grow and find your own food is a critical survival skill. If you haven’t started growing a garden, now is the time to start.
Spend time learning how to forage for food.
Stock up on hunting and fishing gear.
6. They Knew Who Had the Right Skills
Most of those on the Mayflower were not survival experts.
However, they still chose people to take the journey (or work the journey as hired hands) who had valuable skills.
The History Channel reports, “The remaining passengers were […] laborers, soldiers and craftsmen of various stripes whose skills were required for both the transatlantic crossing and those vital first few months ashore. Community leader John Alden, for instance, was originally a cooper, brought along to make and repair barrels on board the ship. Myles Standish, who would eventually become the military leader of Plymouth Colony, was a soldier hired for protection against whatever natives the settlers might encounter.”
Think about how society views certain jobs today.
If SHTF, we will likely need laborers more than we will need bank presidents.
My point is – learn survival skills yourself and surround yourself with others who have preparedness skills.
7. They Had the Right Attitude
The first several months in the New World were brutal. Those who didn’t die could have packed it up and given up.
But they didn’t.
They persevered. They kept pushing forward to achieve their dream.
If they had had an attitude of defeat, they would not have survived.
Should you find yourself in a disaster situation, remember that a significant amount of survival comes down to your mindset.
8. They Were Thankful
The Pilgrims could have complained and grumbled about how hard their new life was in the New World.
However, they chose to find the good and express thankfulness.
As Gov. William Bradford wrote in 1623, “Instead of famine now God gave them plenty, and the face of things was changed, to the rejoicing of the hearts of many, for which they blessed God.”
This made all the difference.
Happy Thanksgiving, friends.
Preparedness Advisor, My Patriot Supply