When Thanksgiving rolls around, we think of family, turkey and Pilgrim salt shakers. However, the real Thanksgiving story is far different from the one we’ve been told in history classes.
The first Thanksgiving was actually a “peace treaty” negotiated between the Pilgrims and Squanto, a representative of the Wampanoag Confederacy. Because of the treaty and the aid provided by Squanto, the new settlers were able to survive the New World. The story is innocent enough, but the “peace treaty” was a farce, and this so-called Thanksgiving took place against a backdrop of ceaseless murder of the Native Americans dating back to the first European colonists.
In William Bradford’s, “Of Plymouth Plantation,” he recounts the Pilgrims’ theft of various hidden Native American food stores and the colonization of land that belonged to Native Americans prior to the Pilgrims’ arrival. However, because the Native Americans lacked a concept of land ownership, the Pilgrims saw the land as unclaimed. To add insult to injury, the “peace treaty” forbade the Wampanoag from setting foot on the “Pilgrim’s land” while armed, as well as, stealing from the Pilgrims, but made no such requirement of the colonists.
The Pilgrims’ exploitative relationship with Native Americans, in which Squanto provided all the aid he could, was fueled by an insatiable appetite for property and power.
This desire, which reflects the motivation of most European settlers in the Americas, continued to drive the European colonists, to continue to expand using a campaign of terror and violence.
With the Pequot War, 13 years after the first Thanksgiving, the already twisted history of Thanksgiving became even more perverse. Some scholars suggest after successful campaigns of violence against Native American villages by the English and Dutch settlers, colonists would celebrate “Thanksgiving” to commemorate their victory over the Native Americans.
So, treasure the time with your family and give thanks for your blessings. But never forget the crimes perpetrated against the many Native American tribes. Honor their memory by rejecting the false idea of Thanksgiving’s history, and keep the Pilgrim salt shakers in the cabinet.