The Truth About Thanksgiving

The Truth About Thanksgiving

Amelia Keniksman, Staff Writer

While in Plymouth, many tourists visit Plymouth Rock, one of the most popular ‘symbols’ of America. There are statues and monuments of pilgrims all around. However, one of the least visited statues, right across from the Plymouth Rock, is the statue of Massasoit- the Chief of the Wampanoag Nation. This man helped the Pilgrims thrive in the Americas and developed a bond with them, and the Pilgrims paid him back by taking the native land and stealing food.

To most, Thanksgiving is seen as a big feast that the colonists and natives had at Plymouth. In September of 1620, a small ship called the Mayflower sailed onto the shore of Cape Cod. These colonists were the Pilgrims, and they began establishing a village in Plymouth. The Native Americans welcomed these Pilgrims into their land, and even spoke to them in English. When food became scarce for the Pilgrims, the Wampanoag chief decided to help them out as a symbol of their friendship. These two groups met up at Plymouth and had the “First Thanksgiving”.

Though Thanksgiving has been given some bad reputation over the past few years, many people don’t realize how inaccurate this story could be. David Silverman, author of This Land is Their Land, believes that retelling this story is damaging to the Indians whose lives were damaged by the English settlers.

Silverman’s book is mainly from the perspective of the Wampanoag Indians, and how the original story of Thanksgiving is built off of inaccuracies, dulling down the destruction that Native Americans went through. The land-hungry Pilgrims began to take the Native land for themselves, resulting in a lasting tension between them that would only be resolved with war.

Before the Pilgrims settled on Plymouth, the Native Americans already had a vast government system and had chiefs that ruled their nations. The Pilgrims had no idea how to preserve food, and ended up stealing food from the Wampanoag Nation soon after their first meeting, says The Natives were never before subjected to the viruses and diseases that the English were tolerant to, and this led to many deaths among the Native tribes, and specifically the Wapanoag.

Though this holiday is a staple in American tradition, it has roots in a very problematic and complex relationship between the Natives and the Pilgrims. The truth about this holiday is brutal, and many people don’t know the suffering that the Pilgrims went through because of this, but instead think of Thanksgiving as a happy time. Though Thanksgiving in the present is a good time to be thankful for your family or situation, it is important to understand the foundation that it is built under.