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Old 11-23-2022, 09:12 PM
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Thumbs up The Truth About Thanksgiving: What They Never Taught You in School

The Truth About Thanksgiving: What They Never Taught You in School

The real story of the first Thanksgiving is neither as simple nor as consoling as the pared down account we learned in history class would suggest.


Richard Schiffman, Contributor

Nov 21, 2011, 03:54 PM EST|Updated Nov 22, 2016
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

Remember what you were taught in grade school? Fleeing religious persecution, the Pilgrims sailed from England, landed on Plymouth rock over two months later, barely survived their first winter. With the help of Squanto and the friendly Wampanoag, who taught them how to exploit the local fish and game, plant corn and squash, and also protected them from other hostile tribes, the band of colonists succeeded in establishing a tenuous foothold at the edge of the North American wilderness. The first Thanksgiving in 1621 was held to celebrate a bountiful harvest with the tribe that helped make it possible.
The real story, it turns out, is neither as simple nor as consoling as this pared down history would suggest. Not that the historians agree on what the real Thanksgiving story is. And it isn't just historians who are squabbling over the significance of America's feast day. It is ordinary Americans like-- well-- Rush Limbaugh for example, who are weighing in on the events of four hundred years ago.

They did sit down and have free-range turkey and organic vegetables, Rush allows, "but it was not the Indians... it was capitalism and Scripture which saved the day." And it wasn't just a bitter winter and shortage of food that imperiled Pilgrim survival; it was, you guessed it, socialism, and those commune dwelling hippie Pilgrims themselves.

The popular talk radio host blames the Pilgrim's communal work ethic and equal sharing of the fruits of their labors for the colony's rocky first year in which half of the one hundred settlers perished of starvation and disease--

"The most creative and industrious people had no incentive to work any harder than anyone else, unless they could utilize the power of personal motivation!"

The tide turned, according to Rush, when the colony's governor, William Bradford, assigned a private plot of land to each family, thereby setting loose the beneficent powers of the marketplace in the People's Republic of Plymouth Rock.

This revisionist history is greeted with bemusement by professional historians. But Limbaugh is not alone in using Thanksgiving to score some political points. While Thanksgiving's enthusiasts view it as a celebration of the boldness, piety and sacrifices of the first European migrants to American shores, the holiday's critics claim that it whitewashes the genocide and ethnic cleansing of indigenous people.

If you happen to spend Thanksgiving in Plymouth Massachusetts this year, you can choose between two public commemorations. You can watch the official parade, in which townspeople dressed like pilgrims march to Plymouth Rock bearing blunderbusses and beating drums. Or you can stand on the top of Coles Hill with indigenous people and their supporters and fast in observance of what they call a "national day of mourning" in remembrance of the destruction of Indian culture and peoples.

These two events represent radically different visions of American history. The official version, the one we learn in school, essentially starts with the landing of the Mayflower in 1620 in a small bay north of Cape Cod. In the Native version, on the other hand, the appearance of the Pilgrims on American shores marks the beginning of the end.

In fact, the end times began for Massachusetts Indians several years earlier, when British slaving crews inadvertently introduced smallpox-- carried by their infected cattle-- to coastal New England killing over ninety percent of the local population, who lacked antibodies to fight the disease. (Compare this astonishing figure to the 30 percent death rates at the height of the Black Plague.)

While the decimated Wampanoag helped the British boat people survive their first harrowing year, Native Americans say that the favor was not returned. A group which calls itself "The United American Indians of New England" alleges that in return for Indian generosity, Pilgrims stole their grain stores and robbed Wampanoag graves.

The historical evidence for grave robbing is a bit thin. And perhaps we can forgive the starving Pilgrims for pilfering a little Indian corn. In any event, this petty thieving doubtless ended with their first ample harvest, which was celebrated with a three day feast. It remains an open question, however, whether the Wampanoag were actually invited, or if they crashed the party, as some historians now suggest, when they heard gunfire from the stockaded village and came to check out what the commotion was all about.

There is also the much debated question of what was on the menu. There is no evidence for turkey, it turns out, only some kind of wild fowl-- likely geese and duck-- venison, corn mush and stewed pumpkin, or traditional Wampanoag succotash. Cranberries, though native to the region, would have been too tart for desert, and sweet potatoes were not yet grown in North America, though grapes and melons would have been available.

The notion that the first Thanksgiving was some kind of cross-cultural love-fest, as it has been portrayed, is also disputed by historians, who say that the settlers and the Indians were brought together less by genuine friendship than by the extremity of their mutual need. The two struggling communities were never more than wary allies against other tribes.

The colonists were contemptuous of the Indians, who they regarded as uncivilized and satanic heathens, and the fragile early peace between Native Americans and the early settlers would soon unravel in a horrific manner in what is now Mystic Connecticut, where the Pequot tribe was celebrating their own Thanksgiving, the green corn festival. In the predawn hours, settlers-- not the Pilgrims, but a band of Puritans-- descended on their village and shot, clubbed and burned alive over 700 native men, woman and children.

This slaughter, according to Robert Jensen, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin, was the real origin of Thanksgiving-- so proclaimed in 1637 by Massachusetts Bay Governor John Winthrop in gratitude for God's destruction of the defenseless Pequot village. Thereafter massacres of the Indians were routinely followed by "days of thanksgiving."

Some blogosphere historians have gone so far as to claim that it was in order to consolidate this plethora of macabre feasts that George Washington made his Thanksgiving Day Proclamation in 1789. In reality, our first president's aim was not to celebrate the genocide against the Indians, but to pay tribute to the survival of the fledgling but still imperiled nation. Nevertheless, troubling questions about the origins of our national feast remain.

Jane Kamensky, a professor of history at Brandeis University, wondered on the website Common-Place (in 2001) whether it makes sense to stir up the historical pot, "to plumb the bottom of it all - to determine whether the first Thanksgiving was merely a pretext for bloodshed, enslavement, and displacement that would follow in later decades."

"To ask whether this is true is to ask the wrong question. Thanksgiving is true to its purposes," Kamensky writes, "And that's all it needs to be. For these holidays say much less about who we really were in some specific Then, than about who we want to be in an ever changing Now."
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Old 11-24-2022, 05:03 AM
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Unhappy Glorious Early American Values

That was terrible to read! - It busted a lot of bubbles reading this post, I
would imagine. This report makes me think back to the early Colonist when
they burned their own women alive - because they thought they were
witches and devil's in skirts.
Now why don't they teach this in school's? Can you imagine kids today
reading about this slaughter of American Indian's. They show a happy
meeting of the Indian's (on or about Thanksgiving) and later on both sides
kill one another because we wanted their lands. Sure the Indian's fought
like hell to keep their own lands - but our weaponry was far more potent
then their bows and arrows in the long run.
And we were considered wise and level headed & Christian's upon our
arriving at Plymouth Rock.
And lets not forget - we also burned our women as some were considered
witches back then - because they were unstable or couldn't deal with transition
from the old country to the new one. We even brought over the white mans
diseases like chicken pox & whatever else we had - which the Indian's never
had until we showed up.
Our history isn't that glorified - or taught in schools. It's also a National Holiday
of which many folks don't even like Turkey.
Yep - we human's are the perfect people - hell we even kill our own kind -
not only in wars - but amongst ourselves.
Love thy Neighbor - say's the Good Book - but our history isn't that glorified
either. Killing seems to be a natural order of things when they don't go your
way. Humans "are not" perfect - we are engrained by the natural order
of our prior history of evolution. That includes killing one another!
Any input?
Well anyway - HAPPY THANKSGIVING to us all! I'm sure someone
is tossing me the bird after reading this reply. Yep we American's
took everything away from the Indian's - but we did set aside
some reservations - where nothing grows. We also killed off
most of the buffalo as well. We brought in cattle that ate the
grains in the open lands - and we damn near wiped them all
out as well - because we are meat eaters - for one thing - and
the their hides were also used for leather & the hunger for red
meat. This didn't go over well with the Indian's either.

O Almighty Lord God, who neither slumberest nor sleepest; Protect and assist, we beseech thee, all those who at home or abroad, by land, by sea, or in the air, are serving this country, that they, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore in all perils; and being filled with wisdom and girded with strength, may do their duty to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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Old 11-24-2022, 12:58 PM
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Arrow The true American Citizens were the Indian's

The true story behind Thanksgiving is a bloody one, and some people say it's time to cancel the holiday
By: Aine Cain & Joey Hadden - Insider News - 11-23-22

* American mythology holds that Pilgrims and Native Americans united 401 years ago for the first Thanksgiving.

* But the peace didn't last; the settlers and Native people were at war a generation

* To some, the holiday is a only a reminder of oppression experienced by Native Americans.

Thanksgiving in the US is traditionally a time for family and food.

American schoolchildren typically learn that the tradition dates back to the Pilgrims, who helped establish Plymouth Colony in 1620 in what is now Massachusetts.

As the story goes, friendly Native Americans taught the struggling colonists how to survive in what the Europeans called the New World. Then everyone got together to celebrate with a feast in 1621.

Thanksgiving 2022 would mark the 401st anniversary of that "first" American Thanksgiving. But, in reality, Thanksgiving feasts predate Plymouth, and the peace celebrated that day was tenuous.

The real story behind the holiday is so dark, in fact, that some people are rethinking how they celebrate the holiday, or whether they should at all.

The Plymouth Thanksgiving of 1621 wasn't the first

Settlers in Berkeley Hundred, in what is now Virginia, celebrated their arrival with a Thanksgiving as far back as 1619, according to National Geographic. But the The Washingtonian reported the meal was probably little more than some oysters and ham thrown together.

Decades before that, Spanish settlers and members of the Seloy tribe broke bread in Florida with salted pork, garbanzo beans, and a Mass in 1565, according to the National Parks Service.

Our modern definition of Thanksgiving revolves around eating turkey, but this was more of an occasion for religious observance in past centuries. The Pilgrims would most likely consider their sober 1623 day of prayer the first actual Thanksgiving, according to the History of Massachusetts Blog.

Others pinpoint 1637 as the true origin of Thanksgiving, since the Massachusetts Bay Colony's governor, John Winthrop, declared a day to celebrate colonial soldiers who had just slaughtered hundreds of Pequot men, women, and children in what is now Mystic, Connecticut.

Regardless, the popular telling of the initial harvest festival is what lived on, thanks to Abraham Lincoln.

The enduring holiday has also nearly erased from our collective memory what happened between the Wampanoag and the English just one generation later.

Photo link:
"The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth," painted by Jennie Augusta Brownscombe. Barney Burstein/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images

The Thanksgiving 'peace' didn't last:

Massasoit, the Wampanoag paramount chief, allied with the English settlers after Plymouth was established and fought with the newcomers against the French and other local tribes. But the alliance became strained over time.

As thousands more English colonists moved to Plymouth, taking over more land, authorities asserted control over "most aspects of Wampanoag life," according to the book "Historic Contact: Indian People and Colonists in Today's Northeastern United States."

A study published in the journal Quaternary Science Reviews estimated that disease had already reduced the New England Indigenous population by 90% by 1620. The Wampanoag continued to die from what the colonists called "Indian fever," an unknown disease brought by early European settlers.

2nd Photo link:
A drawing by H.L. Stevens of Massasoit meeting with Gov. John Carver in front of other North American men. Drawn by H.L. Stevens/engraved by Augustus Robin/Corbis/Getty Images

By the time Massasoit's son, Metacomet who was known to the English as "King Philip" inherited leadership, relations had frayed. His men were executed for the murder of the Punkapoag interpreter and Christian convert John Sassamon, sparking King Philip's War.

Wampanoag warriors responded with raids, and the New England Confederation of Colonies declared war in 1675. The war was bloody and devastating.

In an article published in the Historical Journal of Massachusetts, the Montclair State University professor Robert E. Cray Jr. said the death toll could have been up to 30% of the English population and half of the Native Americans in New England.

3rd picture:
The colonial assault on the Narragansett fort in the Great Swamp Fight in December 1675. Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Metacomet was beheaded and dismembered, according to "It Happened in Rhode Island," and the colonists impaled his head on a spike to display for 25 years.

The war was just one of a series of brutal but dimly remembered early conflicts between Native Americans and colonists in New England, New York, and Virginia.

The holiday's dark past has some people rethinking Thanksgiving:

The focus on racial justice in the US has some people saying that reevaluating the meaning and celebration of Thanksgiving is long overdue.

Teachers, professors, and Native Americans told The New York Times in 2020 that they were rethinking the holiday that has marginalized the US's violence and cruelty against Native Americans, giving it names like "Takesgiving" and "The Thanksgiving Massacre."

And reflections on Thanksgiving are not new. According to the New York Post, the United American Indians of New England have been publicly mourning on Thanksgiving for decades.

Frank James, an Aquinnah Wampanoag activist who helped establish a National Day of Mourning in 1970, called the Wampanoag's welcoming of the English settlers "perhaps our biggest mistake," The Washington Post reported.

On the National Day of Mourning, Native Americans gather in Plymouth, Massachusetts, for a day of remembrance for the millions of Indigenous people who were killed by European colonists. Prayers and speeches take place accompanied by beating drums before participants march through the Plymouth Historic District.

"Participants in National Day of Mourning honor Native ancestors and the struggles of Native peoples to survive today," the commemorating plaque at Cole's Hill in Plymouth says, in part. "It is a day of remembrance and spiritual connection as well as a protest of the racism and oppression which Native Americans continue to experience."
Personal note: Now everybody feel better.

But nothing last forever as we all know it - and how the history began to change
over time. The Indian lands began to shrink with the newcomer's. Slowly but
surely they kept coming and coming and soon the Indian's realized their lands
were being taken over by the pilgrim's as boatload after boatload - kept bringing
in more and more people.

More and more of their lands were being taken and they were being pushed
further out of their original homes further inland. Hunting was frequent and
food was getting harder and harder to get. The Old Chiefs put two and two
together noting they would have to move West to better hunting grounds.
Overtime this began to become an Indian issue for lands and animals.
And so now we all know the history - very few tribes still exist in the East
but they were pushed way Westward into scarce lands and water.

Buffalo was in huge commodities for food but it didn't take long for the
Whiteman to start slaughtering the buffalo (almost to extinction as well -
and so went the history of the American Indian's.
But what few that are left - keep their old identities and hunting as usual.
But the lands they have is getting pretty dry and scarce as well as water.
I've met some Navaho Indian's over my life and even in the service. They
are creative and still hanging in there. I've worked with a few and had
once one as guide for hunting in Wyoming & Colorado. I wish them well
and I hope we give them some hope for their culture & future along with
the other remaining Indian Nations.
After all they were first to live in America and many migrated all the way
down into South America. They are a very Prideful People and the 1st
American's as well - the name the Indian's gave America: Was: ANAHUAC!

O Almighty Lord God, who neither slumberest nor sleepest; Protect and assist, we beseech thee, all those who at home or abroad, by land, by sea, or in the air, are serving this country, that they, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore in all perils; and being filled with wisdom and girded with strength, may do their duty to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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