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Nat Geo Channel’s 'Saints & Strangers' dramatic portrayal of Thanksgiving




The Mayflower II, a replica of the ship which carried the pilgrims to the New World in 1620, is docked in Plymouth Harbor November 25, 2003 in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
The Mayflower II, a replica of the ship which carried the pilgrims to the New World in 1620, is docked in Plymouth Harbor November 25, 2003 in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
Michael Springer/Getty Images

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This weekend, National Geographic Channel will premiere “Saints & Strangers,” a four-hour TV movie that reveals the epic story behind the first Thanksgiving, and the Mayflower’s arrival in Provincetown Harbor.

It was November 1620, after a brutal 66 days at sea, when 102 men, women and children arrived with many starved, sick, and dying. The movie goes deep inside the familiar historical account of Thanksgiving, revealing the trials and tribulations of the first settlers at Plymouth and their complex relationship with the Native Americans.

Of those who made the journey on the Mayflower, there were those we know as “saints,” religious separatists who abandoned their prior lives for a single cause — religious freedom. The others, the “strangers,” were motivated by real-world material objectives and adventure as opposed to spiritual ideas.

This clash of values between these groups created complex inner struggles as they sought to establish new individual identities and a new colony in America, compounded by a complicated relationship with, and between, the local Native American tribes. The Native American actors in the series spoke Western Abenaki with the help of a linguist to preserve the distinct communication used by tribes at the time.

The two-night series airs this Sunday and Monday, November 22-23 at 9pm PDT

Guests:

Raoul Trujillo, Actor in “Saints & Strangers” in the role of Massasoit (muh-SAH-soo-et) - the leader of the Pokanoket tribe whose people have been decimated by disease making him uncertain of how to deal with settlers

Vincent Kartheiser, Actor in “Saints & Strangers” – in the role of religious separatist leader William Bradford – the colony’s moral compass; Kartheiser is best known for his role on AMC’s “Mad Men” in the role of Pete Campbell