Dark Side of Thanksgiving — Truth About the First Thanksgiving: Something to Think About at Your Thanksgiving Dinner…

Much of what people know about ‘Thanksgiving’ is actually a blend of fiction, myth and history that has become widely accepted as truth. But events of what we call First Thanksgiving is nothing like the traditions today. According to Marshall Vian Summers; Thanksgiving are images of– good food, family, friends and times of celebration…

It’s images of the kindness of Native Americans helping newly arrived Pilgrims in struggle to become established in the New World Yet, Thanksgiving has a dark side, a cloud of reality that overshadows its otherwise festive quality. Despite all cultural images, it retains an ominous significance of tragic and devastating consequences for Native Americans…

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According to Scott Berkun; the history behind this holiday is shrouded in controversy, propaganda and myths… According to Howard Zinn; during the early 1600s the Native Americans and the Pilgrims were at constant war with each other; it was bloodshed not brotherhood that brought these communities together…

Remember, American history with Indians is fraught with terror, genocide, war, and deceptive practices with regards to treaties… Hence, when you sit down at the table for Thanksgiving and everyone is giving thanks, think about how this holiday started and think how many lives were lost…

In the article Thanksgiving–Alternate Version by Phil Zastrow writes: Every time we approach the modern Thanksgiving Holiday, with its food, football, and mythology based on a few unusual days in 1621, I ask myself: What is it all about? As a child I enjoyed the feast and as a teenager and young adult I overindulged on football and food. Now, having studied the myth of Thanksgiving I wonder why I did not ask earlier how the carefully crafted myth does not match the reality of the Native people of the Americas since 1621…

It’s called a myth because it meets Webster’s definition; a usually traditional story of ostensibly historical events that serves to unfold part of the world view of a people… Example: How do the rosy images of Indian and Pilgrim sharing the bounty of the land as brothers come to terms with genocide that characterizes the taking of the land? Surely something has been left out of the story… We wonder why there are not enough citizens with curious mind who would ask questions, e.g.; What really happened at that first Thanksgiving?

A more accurate accounting of history, based on written documents of the Puritans and those who came after, as well as the Wampanoag people’s oral history, paints ugly montage of conquest and genocide… Of course the interpretation of the documents and the thinking of the time leave a wide range of possibilities, but we argue that none of the histories would match what is common fair in schools and the mass media even today… But did this thanksgiving festival actually take place?

It seems that between mid-September and early December of 1621, Plymouth Governor William Bradford did invite local Wampanoag to a three-day gathering where food was shared, and mutual aid treaty was signed and harvest traditions of both cultures were observed… However, the modern images of today’s holiday don’t quite match the realities of the time… and school children are taught that Pilgrims served pumpkins and turkeys and corn and squash…

But according to Michael Dorris; On the contrary! It was the Native Americans (not the Pilgrims) who brought the bounties of the land, since all these foods are exclusively indigenous to the Americas…

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In the article Real Story of Thanksgiving by Susan Bates writes: Most of Americans associate the thanksgiving holiday with happy Pilgrims and Indians sitting down to a big feast.  And yes, that did happen just ‘once’… According to William B. Newell; Thanksgiving Day was first proclaimed by the Governor of the then Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1637 to commemorate the massacre of 700 Pequot Native American men, women and children who were celebrating their annual Green Corn Dance… which is the current day Thanksgiving celebration… The Pequot War was one of the bloodiest Indian wars ever fought, located near present day Groton, Connecticut…

 For next 100 years every Thanksgiving Day, ordained by a Governor in honor of a bloody victory over the Pequots, thanks God that the battle had been won… This story doesn’t have quite the same fuzzy feelings associated with the one where the Indians and Pilgrims are all sitting down together at the big feast… Hence, this Thanksgiving, when you gather with your loved ones to be thankfully for all the blessings, think about those 700 Native Americans who suffered and died in 1637…

 In the article Not Thankful for Thanksgiving by Michael Dorris writes: As the father of three Native American children, I am particularly attuned (but not resigned) to the huge store of folk Americana presuming to have to do with ‘Indian lore’, e.g.; from the– ‘One little, two little… Indians’ messages of nursery school… to the ersatz pageantry of boy scout/campfire girl mumbo-jumbo… to the ridiculous, irritating ‘Indian’ caricatures that are forever popping up…

Consider for a moment underlying meanings of some of the supposedly innocuous linguistic stand-byes, e.g.: ‘Indian givers’– take back what they have sneakily bestowed… or, in much the same way that ‘Indian summer’– deceives the gullible flower bud… or, unruly children who are termed ‘wild Indians’… or, the countless athletic teams, that have the emblems of Native Americans’ savagery and bloodthirstiness… and see fit to title themselves– ‘warriors’, ‘braves’, ‘redskins’,  and the like…

Thanksgiving, like much of American history, is complex, multifaceted, and will not bear too close a scrutiny without revealing a less-than-heroic aspect… Knowing the truth about Thanksgiving, both its proud and its shameful motivations and history, might well benefit benefits us all… But glib retelling of an ethnocentric and self-serving falsehood does not do one any good…

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And so, if one takes thanksgiving for what it is for most citizens, there seems only good to come of it. Celebrate it with family and friends! Who would argue that is a bad thing, if taken at face value, but it’s almost never allowed to be– just what it is. For some reason we have to invent a story to accomplish that… According to Felix Okoye; it would be better not to know so many things, than to know so many things that are not so…