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August 15, 2020
Plimoth Plantation Eliminates 'Plantation' from Its Name
Plimoth Patuxet

July 21, 2020 — Plimoth Plantation, a Plymouth nonprofit museum that tells the story of the 17th century settlement of the Plymouth Colony, recently announced it is dropping "Plantation" from its name, to be replaced with a new name yet to be decided, a move it said has been underway for more than a year.

For now, Plimoth Plantation, which is celebrating the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims' arrival in America, is using "Plimoth Patuxet" as its identifying moniker. Patuxet is the name of the indigenous people who lived on the land where the Pilgrims established themselves, today known as Plymouth.

The museum plans to announce its new name later this year.

The announcement follows nationwide demonstrations and discussion, following the death of George Floyd in May in Minneapolis, about the naming of memorials, military installations, sports teams, and other entities that deliberately or inadvertently undermine or mislead understanding of the role of Black, Native American, and other peoples in the history of the United States.

“Does our name reflect the full, multivalent history that is at the core of the museum’s mission?," the museum asked in a statement about the pending name change. The conversations generated by that fundamental question have moved us toward a new, more balanced name demonstrating that the history and culture of the Indigenous people of this region are as integral to the museum’s educational mission as the history and culture of the English colonists."

Plantation, which can refer to a large farm or estate for growing commercial crops, also refers to a colony or new settlement. (Rhode Island is moving to change its official name from The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations to Rhode island.)

"Although our educational mission is inclusive of indigenous history as well as European colonial history, the name of the museum underscores only half of the story," the museum noted. "The history we explore is one we, as Americans, are all still living."

Citing recent months of demonstrations and discussions across the country, the museum said, "As our nation faces a pandemic, an economic crisis, a reckoning with racial injustice, and a highly-charged election year, there is no doubt that we have reached an inflection point in our history, one that raises necessary, and at times painful, discussions. But, especially in these times, that is what museums are called to do."

Plimoth Plantation was established in 1947 as two English cottages and a fort on Plymouth’s historic waterfront.

In March, the organization announced the coronavirus crisis led it to revamp many events designed to commemorate four centuries of history, including significantly increasing the number of virtual experiences it had planned.

The Mayflower II, a replica of the ship which brought Pilgrims to America in 1620, a gift from England in 1957, recently completed a six-year, $11.2 million restoration, is due to arrive in Plymouth next month.

Plans for the Mayflower II to take part in tall ship celebrations and other sails, including a visit to Provincetown in September, have been put on hold, WBUR reported this week.

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