McNary journalist explores the true origins of Thanksgiving
November 28, 2019 By:MHS Piper
By: Kate Peton
Throughout history, Thanksgiving has always been remembered as a holiday of gratefulness, feasting, and football. It has been taught as a remarkable event where the colonists and Native Americans feasted together in peace; yet that narrative couldn’t be farther from the dark, brutal truth.
Some may be asking, “weren’t the Native Americans and Pilgrims friends?”
At best, the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag tribe could be described as ‘political allies.’ By the time the Colonists had arrived, ⅔ of the Massachusetts tribe had been murdered by European slave owners, and there were also many cases of torture and rape among the tribes.
“But what about the Native American man named Squanto, didn’t he learn English and help the colonists farm and interpret the languages?”
Not only is his real name Tisquantum, he had been enslaved as a young boy by the Europeans. James Rosier, a shipmate of Captain George Weymouth, wrote an account describing how they captured the young boy:
“About eight a clocke this day we went on shore with our boats…When I came [back] to the ship, there were two canoes, and in either of them three Savages; of whom two were below at the fire, the other stated in their canoes about the ship; and because we could not entice them aboard, We gave them a can of peas and bread, which they carried to the shore to eat. But one of them brought back our can presently and staid aboard with the other two; for he being young, of a ready capacity, and one we most desired to bring with us into England, had received exceeding kind usage at our hands, and was therefore much delighted in our company. When our Captain was come, we consulted how to catch the other three at shore which we performed thus…
I opened the box, and shewed them trifles to exchange, thinking thereby to have banisht fear from the other, and drawen him to return: but when we could not, we used little delay, but suddenly laid hands upon them. And it was as much as five or six of us could do to get them into the light horseman. For they were strong and so naked as our best hold was by their long hair on their heads; and we would have been very loath to have done them any hurt, which of necessity we had been constrained to have done if we had attempted them in a multitude, which we must and would, rather than have wanted them, being a matter of great importance for the full accomplishment of our voyage. Thus we shipped five Savages, two canoes, with all their bowes and arrowes.”
“But Thanksgiving was celebrated every year after the feast with the Wampanoag tribe, how could that have happened if so many Native Americans were killed and tortured?”
In actuality, the next celebration of Thanksgiving was held 16 years prior to the original feast. This however was to celebrate the Puritans’ massacre of the Piqua tribe, to which over 700 women and children were brutally murdered.
“So then how is it a national holiday if that’s true?”
In George Washington’s 1789 Thanksgiving proclamation, the settlers were not mentioned once. In this proclamation, he had declared Thanksgiving as a national holiday, however subsequent presidents failed to uphold the tradition. This led to the inspiration for Abraham Lincon, to which he declared it a national holiday during the Civil War in an attempt to reunite families.
Various Native Americans today revealed how they really feel about thanksgiving in a 2015 video part of cut.com’s one word video series. The video shows a number of anonymous Native Americans responding to the word ‘Thanksgiving.’
“Sadness. Total sadness. Thanksgiving is a time where my family gets together and tells stories about our creation myths and who we were, who we are, and really what we lost.”
“Colonization. The history of why we celebrate it in that certain way is more complicated.”
“A horror. A horror beyond measure.”
“Thanksgiving to me is a day of overeating and watching football, trying not to think about what the day truly represents.”
“But how is all of this true if we didn’t learn it in school?”
America has a reputation of whitewashing textbooks, curriculums, and schools to encompass the agenda of conforming to the history that the early colonists had tried to cover up. However, the accounts of colonizers depict a clear image of the truth, as well as the accounts of Native Americans. These accounts expose the brutal truth of the foundations of our country that so many Americans worship dearly.