Many Hoops Website Spurs Families to New Actions

The Many Hoops website (—featured in the newsletter’s November and December issues and picked up for Thanksgiving Day distribution on the U.S. Baha’i News website)— has touched hearts, changed celebrations around the Thanksgiving table, and found its way into children’s classes. The site, which has the subtitle “One Nation, One People, One World, One Step at a Time,” is the brainchild of Native American Paula Bidwell and Pilgrim descendant Lea Gerlach. It aims to tell the true story about the first Thanksgiving in what would become the United States. 

A Mixed-Family Celebration. Susan Cangurel, from El Paso, Texas, USA, herself a descendant of Pilgrims, posted the following in the course lounge for the Wilmette Institute’s course on The Life of Bahá’u’lláh: “What a wonderful article in the U.S. Baha’i News about the website” that Paula Bidwell and Lea Gerlach “have created called ‘Many Hoops’ at  The website itself is so great!  My children are direct descendants of the pilgrims on their paternal side. Now my granddaughter, also a descendant, is married to a Native American. When we get together for Thanksgiving, we try to incorporate a ‘Thanks in Unity’ celebration. This has become even more inclusive since our family now also has a descendant of African American slaves, and while his ancestors may not have been part of the original shared meal, he brings an interesting perspective to our celebrations.”

A New Explanation of the Meaning of Thanksgiving. Verne Larson, from Knoxville, Tennessee, USA, shared the following: “Many Hoops is a wonderful site.  Actually the best I have ever seen, and I have been looking for years, it seems, to find information for my two grandchildren that really explains Thanksgiving and has good information on the “Pilgrims” and the Native Americans.”

Changing a Thanksgiving Celebration. Eve Bralley Cook, from Sautee Nacooche, Georgia, USA, wrote this about the Many Hoops website: “What a wonderful gift you are giving to the world. Awareness, honor, and community. Thank you for sharing this. We read two prayers around our thanksgiving table this year. I look forward to expanding this next year!”

Thanksgiving Reimagined. Amber Katirai Harris, from Newmarket, Ontario, Canada, shared this: “This was the first year that Thanksgiving has held any real meaning to me. I am living in Canada; hence American Thanksgiving has gone by the way side for me, as I had decided it wasn’t worth the effort. But everything changed when I found this group and read about the Many Hoops website. Now Thanksgiving has real meaning. Now I have something to share with my children and to teach them. Your sharing has opened my eyes and my understanding and given me something precious that I value very much.”

An Irishman Joins the Thanksgiving Table. Brian O’Flanagan, from Santa Fe, New Mexico, wrote this: “For me, being Irish and a recent ‘settler,’ Thanksgiving was always an ambiguous event in the American calendar and held little interest for me. That was, until Paula [Bidwell] and Lea [Gerlach] started their journey together [on the Many Hoops website], unraveling the knots of history, dismantling the myths, and uncovering the real stories of the participants at the first Thanksgiving. This year, thanks to Paula’s and Lea’s hard work and vision I found meaning and, for the first time, my place at the table. . . at our humble gathering we were ten souls, five representing various Native Nations and five of various European descent. Nick Halsey, our brother, offered the thanksgiving prayer in his native Lakota language. Bravo! to the Many Hoops crew and their mission: One Nation, One People, One World, One Step at a Time!”

A Spiritual Understanding. Deborah Rana, from San Diego, California, wrote this: “The Many Hoops website “embodies an authentic and poignant step of turning toward the wounds and asking at the same time that the Divine Spirit to impart a healing medicine of seeking connection and cultivating forgiveness and reconciliation through open and honest sharing of awareness of unfairness. These chains of patterns of lack of trust and true equality will not be broken until we acknowledge the pattern and each of our roles in it.”

How You Can Revisit the Many Hoops Website. “The Story of Squanto,” which is timeless, is still available on the Many Hoops website (, along with another coloring book and much information about the Thanksgiving story and Paula Bidwell’s and Lea Gerlach’s efforts to clarify centuries of misunderstandings between European settlers in North America and Native Americans. Lea posted this on Facebook:

Jessie Little Doe has said that in Wampanoag prophecy it will be the descendants of the original settlers who will arise and help heal the injustices that have been [and continue to be] perpetrated. I am a Pilgrim descendant, and I deeply feel the call of my ancestors. The beat on the drum that Paula and I have built is calling to other descendants, and to anyone who is ready and is saying this: Open your heart (by taking action in the heart of your home to honor Native Americans on Thanksgiving Day), and hear the truth.