Today we reached E's goal - Plymouth Plantation outside of Plymouth, Mass. We started our day at Mayflower II, a full-scale reproduction of the original ship that brought Plymouth colonists to the Atlantic coast. One thing I really liked about this park was that it also included a Wampanoag village manned entirely by Native American people there to offer their own take on the history. The Native American hosts dressed in historic garb, but spoke in modern terms while the actors in the plantation stayed entirely in their 1627 personae.
V was very proud to dress "like a pilgrim" as we entered the village, but we were immediately faced by folks who weren't very gracious with my 8 year old. The ticket vendor told us her coif was not authentic (really?! It's a COSTUME!), and the old Native American woman in the coastal hut really got on V's case about dressing like the European invaders "to honor them." I finally asked if the woman would have felt honored had V dressed like the Wampanoag instead. "No. I would have been offended," she said. So, no matter what we did, she was offended by us. So we moved on up the hill where the girls were thrilled to provide free labor to the colonists. They swept floors with twig brooms (no straw brooms in 1627 Plymouth), collected water from the spring, ground corn, collected radish seeds and otherwise made themselves useful. Both girls want to move onto the plantation full time and play roles of their own.
Some friendlier docents did teach us that colonists didn't call themselves pilgrims at any time, and that the pilgrim costume we learn about (at least in the West) is entirely wrong. Black was a very expensive fabric, they explained, so wouldn't have been worn by the original colonists. And while white may have been worn, it probably was a natural white rather than the bleached version we know today. The contrast makes for a nice costume, but now we know what to wear "next time we visit," the girls said.