Thanks-Taking

Thanks-Taking

Dania Chavez, Brimstone Writer

Let’s discuss the thanksgiving myth.

 

First and foremost, we must accept that the colonists of Plymouth Plantation and the Wampanoag chief Massasoit agreed to mutual protection. The only historical documentation of the first “thanksgiving” comes from a journal entry written by governor William Bradford of the Plymouth plantation in 1621. He wrote that the Plymouth plantation was gathering around their small harvest and noted the game that they successfully captured and the fish that they stored during this gathering. During this gathering, colonist militiamen fired their weapons in a loud commotion, and not long after, 90 Wampanoag men showed up ready for battle. This is significant because the Wampanoag people arrived prepared for combat and were not invited, as the legend says, and over time, this partnership began to disintegrate. 

 

You see, hundreds of English colonists illegally immigrated to Turtle Island, seizing Wampanoag territory, and violence arose. After the death of Chief Massasoit, his son, Metacomet, known to the colonists as King Philip, assumed authority. When his warriors were slaughtered for the murder of an interpreter and Christian convert, King Philip’s War was sparked. This conflict was devastating; it is estimated that 30% of the English population and 50% of the native population in New England died as a result of it. Metacomet was arrested and dissected, with his head impaled on a pike and exhibited for 25 years in the town.

 

According to some historians, Thanksgiving as we know it began in 1637 when Massachusetts’ governor, John Winthrop, declared a day of celebration after soldiers returned from slaying hundreds of Pequot men, women, and children. Now, 200 years later, a man named Alexander Young rewrote one line from Governor Bradford’s record of the first “Thanksgiving”, in which he lied about three items. 

 

First, he omitted the section about militiamen firing their rifles. Second, he claimed that the Wampanoag people were invited by the colonists, and third, he lied that the Wampanoag people brought venison and turkey to the governor before the feast. He also added a footnote that read “this was the first Thanksgiving,” and the name stayed. Then, in 1863, Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation that declared the celebration a national holiday. Thanksgiving is a National Day of Mourning for many Native Americans to honor their ancestors’ sacrifice. They lament the relatives who were never born as a result of genocide, they lament their stolen lands, and they lament the fact that the conflict is still ongoing.