Why Don't You Celebrate Thanksgiving? An Essay
***Once again, I am having blog trouble. For the third time, new posts keep appearing under an old one. As I result, I've had to delete and re-publish them in order to keep continuity. If anyone knows how to fix this problem, I'll be in your debt. And please scroll past this post: I've written three more since this. Thanks.
A disclaimer: read the warning first. If you don't, I'm not responsible
BEFORE YOU READ THIS, A WARNING:
Do not read this if you will be offended by a different point of view on the Thanksgiving holiday.
WHY DON'T YOU CELEBRATE THANKSGIVING?
Over the last few days, I have been asked this a dozen times or more.
The traditional Thanksgiving story tells that the Pilgrims, after a long and hard winter, celebrated with a
First of all, one must understand that the Pilgrims were a splinter group of the Puritans, an extremist religious
Which leads one to a question with an ironic answer: "Why did the Natives help the Pilgrims?" Because, in their religion, one must give hospitality to any who came to them with open hands, and their religion stressed charity to the helpless. In fact, it was the Natives who brought the vast majority of the food to that first Thanksgiving feast! The Pilgrims weren't "sharing their bounty." It was the other way around.
By the time the children of that first Thanksgiving reached adulthood, the Pilgrims and their reinforcements
To add insult to injury, children in schools have for generations been prompted to "re-enact" that first feast
Many Natives celebrate a "Day Of Mourning" on Thanksgiving Day, to mourn our ancestors who were killed
So, to wrap it up: in our version of the first Thanksgiving, we helped the Pilgrims survive that first horrible
So I cannot, in good conscience, celebrate a holiday that in my mind is a lie. I cannot celebrate the
To be fair, Thanksgiving has evolved into something far beyond what the Pilgrims celebrated. Now, it means a gathering of the family, and a chance to count one's blessings. I respect those who celebrate for those reasons, and wish them a happy holiday.
I wish our side of the story was taught in schools, rather than perpetuate the myths. I wish that Thanksgiving could be a time when Americans remember and honor the Native peoples who helped them survive and made this country possible. Perhaps someday, it will.
I want to thank everyone who showed interest in this topic. It brightens my day that
"Wait, we can not break bread with you. You have taken the land which is rightfully ours. Years from now my people will be forced to live in mobile homes on reservations. Your people will wear cardigans, and drink highballs. We will sell our bracelets by the road sides, and you will play golf, and eat hot h'ors d'ourves. My people will have pain and degradation. Your people will have stick shifts. The gods of my tribe have spoken. They said do not trust the pilgrims, especially Sarah Miller. And for all of these reasons I have decided to scalp you and burn your village to the ground."
And finally, one from a Wampanoag Tribal member in Massachusetts, from a speech given in 1970 at a ceremony marking the 350th anniversary of the Pilgrim's arrival:
"Today is a time of celebrating for you -- a time of looking back to the first days of white people in America. But it is not a time of celebrating for me. It is with a heavy heart that I look back upon what happened to my People. When the Pilgrims arrived, we, the Wampanoags, welcomed them with open arms, little knowing that it was the beginning of the end. That before 50 years were to pass, the Wampanoag would no longer be a tribe. That we and other Indians living near the settlers would be killed by their guns or dead from diseases that we caught from them. Let us always remember, the Indian is and was just as human as the white people. Although our way of life is almost gone, we, the Wampanoags, still walk the lands of Massachusetts. What has happened cannot be changed. But today we work toward a better America, a more Indian America where people and nature once again are important."