Thursday, November 25, 2021

Re-Writing Thanksgiving

 History does matter, which is why people in power put so much energy into controlling it. The real history of Thanksgiving overlooks that the colonists' systematic theft of the land of the Native Americans through murderous brutality.


In 1620 the Mayflower brought Puritan religious dissenters to the land belonging to the Wampanoag, whose name means “people of the first light”. They had an estimated population of at least 15,000 in the early 1600s, living in villages along the Massachusetts coast and inland. The religious liberty and accompanying economic opportunity for the settlers turned out to be a heavy price for the Wampanoag.


 It was their help that enabled the English newcomers to survive. There initially ensued a period of an uneasy co-existence between the English and Wampanoag, but then violence such as the King Philip’s War of 1675, which ended with the head of Metacom, the Wampanoag leader, being placed upon a spike and the survivors sold into slavery. This was the day of thanksgiving and in the celebrations, the settlers kicked the heads of dead natives around as if they were soccer balls.


Thanksgiving’ became an official named holiday during the Civil War, but none of the essential narratives of today’s celebration were mentioned in Lincoln’s 1863 proclamation, not the Mayflower, not the Pilgrims, not the Natives, nor any feast shared feast.  


The Declaration of Independence refers to Indians as the "merciless Indian Savages."

George Washington, in 1783 compared Indians to wolves, "both being beasts of prey, tho' they differ in shape."

Thomas Jefferson in 1807 wrote to his secretary of war that in a coming conflict with certain tribes, "We shall destroy all of them."

Theodore Roosevelt defended the expansion of whites across the continent as an inevitable process "due solely to the power of the mighty civilized races which have not lost the fighting instinct, and which by their expansion are gradually bringing peace into the red wastes where the barbarian peoples of the world hold sway."

 He also once said, "I don't go so far as to think that the only good Indians are dead Indians, but I believe nine out of ten are, and I shouldn't like to inquire too closely into the case of the tenth."


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