So this weekend is thanksgiving and I don’t know about you, but thanksgiving is one of my favorite times of the year! As a kid, I looked forward to stuffing, gravy, collard greens and of course TURKEY!
But what is thanksgiving?
Well, as kids we’d all dress up as cute little pilgrims and Indians and reenact the creation of tradition on stage.
Thanksgiving was a tradition that started in Plymouth, Massachusetts by Pilgrims and Puritans who came to America from England in the 1620s.
The Puritans escaped religious persecution in England and came to America on the Mayflower. They were on a pilgrimage to the New world! They arrived in Plymouth during the Winter and the land was strange and new to them.
But they were in luck! The Native Americans greeted them with kindness and supplied them with seeds and plants and taught them how to survive on their new land!
The Pilgrims planted the seeds and they grew and grew and grew. The Fall came and the crops had been plentiful!
So to celebrate, the pilgrims harvested the crops and prepared a feast that they shared with the kind Native Americans who had helped them survive their first year in the new world.
And everyone smiled and giggled and the Native Americans lived in Harmony with the Pilgrims for many many many years.
Oh such a quaint little story!
It’s too bad it’s not entirely true.
If you grew up with this story, you’d be surprised to learn that many native Americans refer to Thanksgiving day as a national day of mourning. The truth is, Thanksgiving isn’t about Turkey and potatoes and pumpkin pie. Oh no, the truth is a lot less appetizing.
In 1633, Puritan settlements grew and started to expand to the Connecticut River Valley.
They wanted to build homes and expand their settlements, but they had a problem: The Pequot.
The Pequot had settled along the Mystic River long before the English decided to expand. There had been many disagreements between English Settlers and Native Americans. They had tried to reconcile their differences, but ultimately they were unsuccessful and this started what is known as the Pequot War.
The “war” wasn’t just between the Pequots and English Puritans, it was also between several other Native American tribes-including the Mohegan who aligned themselves with the English.
It’s said that the Pequot and the Mohegan at one time were a united tribe that later split when English Settlers arrived.
On May 26, 1637, English Settlers with the aid of the Mohegan and other ally tries set fire to the fortified Pequot Village near the Mystic River.
Almost entirely Women and children were slaughtered in the massacre, and at the end of the day it’s estimated that about 700 of the Pequot died that day.
The ones that survived were captured and sold as slaves to other tribes by the English.
The Pequot Massacre happened because of the murder of an English Trader who was supposedly accused by the Pequot of kidnapping children.As a result, John Mason lead forces into the village to massacre children along with women and the elderly.
The overall intent was to completely genocide the Pequot. After the massacre, the name Pequot was erased from the map, the Pequot river became the Thames and their old land was renamed “New London.
John Mason had this to say about the event:
“It may be demanded…Should not Christians have more mercy and compassion? But…sometimes the Scripture declareth women and children must perish with their parents…. We had sufficient light from the word of God for our proceedings.”
the next day The Governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony, John Winthrop stated:
“A day of Thanksgiving, thanking God that they had eliminated over 700 men, women and children.” It was signed into law that, “This day forth shall be a day of celebration and thanksgiving for subduing the Pequots.”“
So in truth, the narrative we’re taught as children is a twisted version of what actually happened. and by celebrating that narrative, you’re celebrating a lie told to cover up the genocide of 700 native Americans. It’s important to note that as a child you’re, in many ways taught to view native Americans as the villains in many stories that depict early Americas. And the truth is that, this is how the Puritans saw the Native Americans. They considered them to be of something unholy and often described them as demonic or devil-like. And it’s that dehumanization that allowed them to do what they did.
i think we should all take a moment on this day to recognize that this history that we teach our children about the holy Puritans and the savage Indians is incorrect.And frankly, I think we do a great disservice to our children by telling stories that perpetuate the narrative of white innocence and validate the narrative of rabid people of color.
Thanksgiving, in truth, is a culmination of many celebrations. I personally choose to view Thanksgiving as simply a time to enjoy good food with the people i care about and have an open dialogue about what I’m personally thankful for.
There are so many stories of Native American Genocide and I can’t tell them all. For many native Americans this day will always represent genocide.
I think that more Americans should be aware about the roots of this holiday and what I really want is for the Native Americans who see this video to give me their perspective on how they feel about this time of year.
On that note, i hope everyone’s having a wonderful day and as usual always remember and never forget that you are beautiful and you are loved. bye!