Thanksgiving – the truth


As fall decorations shine under warm lights, and as families gather ready to stick a knife into a turkey for a Thanksgiving celebration, most won’t consider the gruesome history of Thanksgiving. 

Thanksgiving is a commonly misunderstood holiday that lacks to spread awareness and honor the lives of the Native Americans who were brutally treated by the English settlers. Many are taught that Thanksgiving was created by the settlers and the Native Americans to celebrate the successful harvest and peace between them; however, this isn’t all true. 

Native Americans have been celebrating the success of the fall harvest years before the English settlers arrived in North America. The specifics of each celebration vary from tribe to tribe, but a recurring theme is a feast thanking nature and spirits for a successful harvest. Food from this harvest consisted of beans, various corns, and squash, unlike the turkey, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie we eat today. 

“Spiritual beliefs involved a reciprocal relationship with nature,” an uncredited author at the National Museum of the American Indian said. “Offerings in the form of food and precious objects, such as shell beads, were given back to the earth to express thankfulness and respect to supernatural beings.”

The “first Thanksgiving” that included the settlers has no real date, and there has been discussion about when the first Thanksgiving really happened. In reference to the settlers and the native’s feast in 1621, it was a peaceful unplanned gathering that both groups contributed the fruits of their labor, but it was never called Thanksgiving.

“Others pinpoint 1637 as the true origin of Thanksgiving,”  Business Insider writer Áine Cain said. “[O]wing to the fact Massachusetts colony governor John Winthrop declared a day of thanksgiving to celebrate colonial soldiers who had just slaughtered 700 Pequot men, women, and children in what is now Mystic, Connecticut.”

No matter the date, Thanksgiving day is not joyous for the millions of Native Americans in the United States. Thanksgiving is a reminder of the horrors that Native Americans had experienced.

Thanksgiving is a day of mourning and protest since it commemorates the arrival of settlers in North America and the centuries of oppression and genocide that followed after,” an unmarked author at Native Hope said. 

With the easy access to technology and knowledge, more and more people are informing themselves and others about the truth of our history. Because of this, we notice a shift in how we celebrate. Traditions such as eating and making a large meal, playing games, and watching sports still prevail but Thanksgiving has become more about being with family and bringing awareness to the Native struggle.  

For this year and future years don’t forget to not only to give thanks but to honor and remember the millions of Native Americans who have died from the hate of the colonists.