Thanksgiving — a time to be grateful for your friends and family, as well as a time of privilege for those who forget that their high school history books may have left out a thing or two about the “harmonious” day between the Native Americans (the Wampanoag), the settlers and the events that followed.
Let’s start with the timeline of events that transpired from 1620, as the Mayflower brought the Pilgrims to North America, to 1830 when the holiday was made official by Abraham Lincoln:
Thanksgiving is thought to be the celebration of Pilgrims and the Wampanoag in 1621 due to their successful harvest, which in some respects, is true. More than 100 people gathered, feasted for three days and played games.
This is typically where the generalized version that is taught in history books ends, although it forgets to mention it was not actually called Thanksgiving.
Before the Pilgrims met the natives, they raided villages for food- mostly corn- until they met Squanto, who became their translator and introduced them to the Wampanoag people had already had the concept of “Thanksgiving,” known to them as the autumn harvest, not Thanksgiving.
This was only a preemptive tactic that would soon lead to greed, bribery and anguish in the eyes of the Pilgrims, who searched for more land and stopped at nothing until they had rid the land of anyone who was not useful and those who took “their” resources, according to History.com. This eventually lead to the massacre of Native Americans, a time that they look at in great mourning.
Due to the expansion of land, the Puritans came across conflict with the Pequots, who lived along the Thames River in southeastern Connecticut. The colonists decided to push the tribes out by organizing a large military force under Gov. John Endecott to remove the Native Americans from the land.
Then, on May 26, 1637, the colonists marched to the Pequot village and slaughtered its inhabitants. It is estimated that 400 to 700 Pequot women, children and old men were burned, according to smithosnian.com. The men were killed off and the women and children were enslaved.
Acts of violence like this were not uncommon throughout the expansion of land. Even more so when Columbus “found” North America.
This inaccuracy has installed falsities in the education system that revolves around reading illustrated stories of how the Pilgrims and natives worked together, and seeing academics fall into the trap of misinformation.
I’m not saying you cannot be thankful for your life, loved ones and future on Thanksgiving, but I would be remiss if I were to not inform you of the killings, torture and slavery that ravished the Native American community during the “Thanksgiving” we were never taught in elementary school.