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Jaycee Anderson

United States

The True Story of Thanksgiving

March 22, 2016

    The concept of a heartfelt Thanksgiving is very important to most Americans and we have celebrated it annually for many years. It is also important that we give thanks and live in a state of “thanksgiving”, meaning that you express your gratitude especially to God or, for Natives, use the creativity and talent that the Creator gave you. Sooner or later, people discover what those skills are or find what they are gracious for and they begin to cultivate them, which assists in the ability to give thanks in action. Although many people know the feelings associated with this holiday and the traditional story of the “first Thanksgiving” they are not educated correctly about the actual story of Thanksgiving. If you do not already know that what you learned in history class is false, let this be the point in time where you learn the truth. What is the true story of Thanksgiving if what we were taught in school isn’t true? Why are most Americans unaware of the true story? These are the million dollar questions that many of us don’t know the answer to. It aggravates and disturbs me that most people do not know these answers and it should do the same for you.  
    First things first, for all of those that are caught up in the their own machination of fantasy with the facade of rainbows, unicorns, and everyone holding hands and singing “Kumbaya” without judgement or prejudice, sorry to burst your bubble but not everything is all smiles and jellybeans in the true reality that we all live in. Although it is a delighting thought that many people want to believe the good in things and people, not everything is as righteous or noble as it may seem. For example, one of the most falsified tales in colonial American history is Thanksgiving. Yes, you did hear that right, the biggest crock of crap is the story of Thanksgiving that everyone glorifies as the joyful and celebratory feast between the Native “American” Wampanoags and the Pilgrims.
    As I have stated previously, when you hear about this renowned story it is usually consistent with the Pilgrims and the “Indians” amicably sharing the first Thanksgiving meal in 1621. These “Indians” that were referred to so non exclusively were the ancestors of the Wampanoag tribe members. You can thank Christopher Columbus for the common misconception of calling the Natives “Indians,” because when he accidentally landed on the shores of America thinking of it as India, he named them Indians and from there on forward that is most oftenly how people refer to Natives.which is very annoying to those who know the difference between an Indian from the country India and a Native “American.’ It is also commonly known to call Natives “Native Americans,” and even that label is not completely accurate. Being a Native ‘American” myself, I am extremely passionate about this specific topic. People need to know that the colonization and the colonial terms that came with the cultural assimilation process happened then and continues to happen today. The Natives are original people of  “America”, therefore they should be recognized as such, but also to themselves as indigenous and the backgrounds they identify with.
Getting back to how the story is told, the plot usually goes as follows. The Pilgrims sailed from England on the Mayflower, landed at what became Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1620, and had a good harvest the next year. This resulted in the governor of Plymouth, William Bradford, arranging a feast between the  group of “Native American allies” including the Wampanoag chief Massasoit to celebrate the harvest. This feast lasted for three days and Bradford supposedly sent four men on a hunting trip, while the Wampanoags would provide five deer to supply for the peaceful feast that would take place between these two extremely different groups of people. Which brings us to present day America, where every year since that first feast we have celebrated Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November.
On the other hand, this is not how the the Wampanoags recall the “First Thanksgiving.” In fact, this mainstream story was claimed to be made up by the sixteenth president himself,  Abraham Lincoln, who implemented the keynote of Pilgrims and “Indians” eating happily together. This was Lincoln’s desperate attempt at devising a plan to calm things down during the Civil War when people were divided. Apparently, this fabrication created that sense of unity in which Lincoln sought. This was the sort of “genius” that got families who were divided to sit down and eat together, harmoniously. Put simply, the explanation to this is politics. This was none other than the work of professional maintenance of a favorable public image by Abraham Lincoln. It bothers me that significant leaders can alter the way American history is portrayed, even if the efforts are focused on bringing people together.
I believe that the Wampanoags’ story paints a more realistic setting in the time of the Natives and the Pilgrims. As their story goes, the Natives were, supposedly, suspicious of the festivities going on within the Pilgrim’s habitance and decided to inspect the situation a little bit more closely to see what was actually taking place. As the ninety Wampanoag warriors appeared, the Pilgrims explained, through  a translator, that they were simply celebrating and giving thanks for the harvest. This commenced the camping out of the Natives to make sure that what the Pilgrims were claiming rang true. So as the warriors camped out for a few days they hunted and gathered food, which made the Pilgrims apprehensive and slightly aggressive toward them, given that, at this point, the Natives outnumbered the remaining survivors of the Mayflower. The Pilgrims had armed Natives who were camping nearby and they were vulnerable; you could only imagine the fear within them. However, because of the 1621 treaty between these two groups of people, the Wampanoags protected them and they relied on the Natives, as did the Natives if there ever came a time where the Pilgrims could provide any help. Although it seems that the Pilgrims put in much effort to be polite, they thought the Natives were savages nonetheless. Refuting the fact of their opinions of the Wampanoags would only make one look ignorant, as they could merely refer to the countless journals that were kept of the Pilgrims which regarded them as such.
Now we know that there was no such  feast where the Pilgrims and Wampanoags ate turkey, shared a cup of tea, and set aside their differences to give thanks. However, people did eat together just not in the way it is commonly depicted. It is also important to note that the Natives were also apprehensive toward the Pilgrims because all they had ever known was their territory, and when a group of foreigners came and claimed their land it was somewhat disturbing. But in that time, it was a mutual agreement that the these two groups would help each other out, thanks to the 1621 treaty. In addition to that, the idea of a feast dedicated to giving thanks on an exclusive day was literally nonnative for the Natives because they often give thanks more than once a year in formal ceremonies. Although this was not a completely foreign concept, it seemed that the Natives acknowledged a greater spirit, lived in a state of thanksgiving, and more oftenly said thanks formally than just one particularly exclusive day of the year.
In the final analysis, and according to the facts, Thanksgiving is just another holiday. A holiday that even Natives celebrate themselves, including myself. You can do what you will with the information and facts provided, but that doesn’t take away from the true fact that it is a holiday that commemorates a virtually nonexistent harvest feast in 1621. Now, how do you feel about knowing the truth of the history of Thanksgiving?

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