Be thankful this holiday
Spending time with family members, eating turkey, and playing in piles of leaves are what come to mind when thinking about Thanksgiving.
However, the history of this holiday is not as pleasant as the feeling of thankfulness that is celebrated on this day.
For Native Americans and people of Indigenous decent, this holiday can trigger the awful memories of what their people had to go through when the Pilgrims first began colonizing America. The first Thanksgiving wasn’t the peaceful feast between the Pilgrims and Natives that most people believe it to have been.
There are multiple accounts of Pilgrims using Thanksgiving to repent for killing, in some cases, hundreds of Natives. In 1637, the Colony Governor of Massachusetts, John Winthrop, once declared a Thanksgiving celebration to happen immediately after the massacre of about 700 people from the Pequot Tribe. Events such as these have been the main cause of indigenous peoples’ negative feelings towards this holiday.
While there is some truth to the classic story that children are told about the two groups of people coming together, there are also some darker parts of history that need to be brought to light.
The origin of the popular first Thanksgiving story comes from a celebratory feast to honor the Pilgrim’s first harvest. Govenor William Bradford organized this event and invited some of the town’s Native American allies.
This story has been retold and remembered every Thanksgiving as a peaceful meeting between the Native Americans and the Pilgrims. While this is true for this specific event, this story has overshadowed the violence that was much more common between these two groups of people.
Thanksgiving often brings up the painful history of the mass genocide of Native Americans and how they were forced off their land by colonists. For this reason, watching people celebrate this holiday can be especially difficult for indigenous people.
Native American outfits are also sometimes used to decorate or celebrate this holiday, but it is incredibly harmful and disrespectful to this beautiful culture and creates even more negative feelings towards Thanksgiving.
It is important to remember the history of Thanksgiving this year and all the following when celebrating with your family. However, this doesn’t mean that this time of year can’t still be celebrated as a time of gratefulness and used to enjoy the company of loved ones.
History often isn’t the simple, peaceful stories that children are told, and it is important to remember that. There are certain parts of history that are horrible and make can people uncomfortable, but it is still important to acknowledge them and honor the people who were affected by those awful events.
This season, make an effort to support indigenous people while they remember their ancestors during this holiday. Support these people by learning more about their culture, celebrating holidays such as Indigenous Peoples Day, and educate people when they use stereotypes that are harmful for this group.