The History of Thanksgiving
Yesterday was Thanksgiving. We’ve ALL heard the story about why we celebrate Thanksgiving. We heard that it marked the day where the colonizers and Native people shared their first harvest feast in 1621. And I’m here to tell you that this wasn’t the first thanksgiving nor it happened the fairytale way. In fact, there were hundreds to thousands of thanksgivings and many of them (in Turtle Island; now the U.S.A) were related to the massacres, genocides, and murders of Native Indigenous people.
- Read about the partial timeline/records of thanksgiving.
- Read the Wampanoag side of the ‘first’ Thanksgiving story.
- Read the true story behind the continuation of celebrating Thanksgiving.
- Read where Thanksgiving came from and the dark history behind it.
The Irony of it All
Here’s the irony, the colonizers fled their country for freedom. Freedom of what? To free themselves from control of religion, law, government, debt, etc.
Here’s a little history recap: The pilgrims of the 1621 Thanksgiving didn’t arrive until December 1620. These colonizers were helped by Native people (per usual), with open arms, despite what happened prior to their arrival. Prior to their arrival, the Europeans made their way over in 1616. The European diseases and cruel activities killed up to 90% of the Wampanoag population. On the European’s way out, they ripped Natives from their tribes and families to become slaves. Although Natives were welcoming, the pilgrims still had to take.
Quick Summary: The colonizers came here for freedom to take freedom; which is what the government was build off of.
Putting it All Together: What is Thanksgiving?
Thanksgiving is a day of grief of what happened and what continues to happen to Natives. I continually ask myself, why celebrate a holiday that celebrates the downfall of my own people? In a simple answer, we weren’t given the truth in history class. We only read about the colonizer’s perspective to cover up what actually happened to Native people. This narrative paints colonizers to be the good and Native people as bad. There were many other demeaning words that described my people; my family.
Many uneducated/ignorant people ask that for any fact that exposes the true colors of America.
Answer: The colonizers/government tried their best to burn and erase every single piece of Native history and culture in more than hundreds of ways. Watch how the government did it and are still doing it today!
Things to Try
Learn the history behind holidays. Dig deeper. Ask yourself if you are hearing the truth. Be open to listening/learning from/about people who are systemically being oppressed. Be the change, not the problem. If you don’t see the problem, ask yourself how you would feel if the same happened to your race/culture. Treat people with kindness and dignity!
Those who are being oppressed, erased, targeted, etc. are at greater risk of suicide. We are humans! We exist and have feelings! Native Indigenous Lives Matter!
If you are struggling with mental health and would like to seek help, click here for our resources page.