This is a particularly difficult introduction to write.
I have been a public schools teacher for twelve years, and I am also a historian and have written several books on American and Native American history. Because my Indian ancestors were on both sides of the struggle between the Puritans and the New England Indians and I am well versed in my cultural heritage and history both as an Anishnabeg Algokin and Hodenosione Iroquois , it was felt that I could bring a unique insight to the project. For an Indian, who is also a school teacher, Thanksgiving was never an easy holiday for me to deal with in class.
I sometimes have felt like I learned too much about "the Pilgrims and the Indians.
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The problem is that part of what you and I learned in our own childhood about the "Pilgrims" and "Squanto" and the "First Thanksgiving" is a mixture of both history and myth. But the THEME of Thanksgiving has truth and integrity far above and beyond what we and our forebearers have made of it. Thanksgiving is a bigger concept than just the story of the founding of the Plymouth Plantation. So what do we teach to our children? We usually pass on unquestioned what we all received in our own childhood classrooms.bocifusurlia.ga
9 Myths About Thanksgiving & The Real Facts Behind Them
I have come to know both the truths and the myths about our "First Thanksgiving," and I feel we need to try to reach beyond the myths to some degree of historic truth. This text is an attempt to do this. At this point you are probably asking, "What is the big deal about Thanksgiving and the Pilgrims? I propose that there may be a good deal that many of us do not know about our Thanksgiving holiday and also about the "First Thanksgiving" story. I also propose that what most of us have learned about the Pilgrims and the Indians who were at the first Thanksgiving at Plymouth Plantation is only part of the truth.
When you build a lesson on only half of the information, then you are not teaching the whole truth. That is why I used the word myth. So where do you start to find out more about the holiday and our modern stories about how it began? I also recommend looking up any good text on British history. Check out the British Civil War of , Oliver Cromwell, and the Puritan uprising of which ended parliamentary government in England until The history of the Puritan experience in New England really should not be separated from the history of the Puritan experience in England.
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You should also realize that the "Pilgrims" were a sub sect, or splinter group, of the Puritan movement. They came to America to achieve on this continent what their Puritan bretheran continued to strive for in England; and when the Puritans were forced from England, they came to New England and soon absorbed the original "Pilgrims. I want you to read some of these books. So let me use my editorial license to deliberately provoke you a little.
The Puritans were not just simple religious conservatives persecuted by the King and the Church of England for their unorthodox beliefs. They were political revolutionaries who not only intended to overthrow the government of England, but who actually did so in The Puritan "Pilgrims" who came to New England were not simply refugees who decided to "put their fate in God's hands" in the "empty wilderness" of North America, as a generation of Hollywood movies taught us.
In any culture at any time, settlers on a frontier are most often outcasts and fugitives who, in some way or other, do not fit into the mainstream of their society. This is not to imply that people who settle on frontiers have no redeeming qualities such as bravery, etc.
The Thanksgiving Story
They believed in the imminent occurrence of Armegeddon in Europe and hoped to establish here in the new world the "Kingdom of God" foretold in the book of Revelation. They diverged from their Puritan brethren who remained in England only in that they held little real hope of ever being able to successfully overthrow the King and Parliament and, thereby, impose their "Rule of Saints" strict Puritan orthodoxy on the rest of the British people. So they came to America not just in one ship the Mayflower but in a hundred others as well, with every intention of taking the land away from its native people to build their prophesied "Holy Kingdom.
The Pilgrims were not just innocent refugees from religious persecution. They were victims of bigotry in England, but some of them were themselves religious bigots by our modern standards. The Puritans and the Pilgrims saw themselves as the "Chosen Elect" mentioned in the book of Revelation. They strove to "purify" first themselves and then everyone else of everything they did not accept in their own interpretation of scripture.
Later New England Puritans used any means, including deceptions, treachery, torture, war, and genocide to achieve that end. This rigid fundamentalism was transmitted to America by the Plymouth colonists, and it sheds a very different light on the "Pilgrim" image we have of them. This is best illustrated in the written text of the Thanksgiving sermon delivered at Plymouth in by "Mather the Elder.
He praised God for destroying "chiefly young men and children, the very seeds of increase, thus clearing the forests to make way for a better growth", i. The Wampanoag Indians were not the "friendly savages" some of us were told about when we were in the primary grades.
Nor were they invited out of the goodness of the Pilgrims' hearts to share the fruits of the Pilgrims' harvest in a demonstration of Christian charity and interracial brotherhood. The Wampanoag were members of a widespread confederacy of Algonkian-speaking peoples known as the League of the Delaware. For six hundred years they had been defending themselves from my other ancestors, the Iroquois, and for the last hundred years they had also had encounters with European fishermen and explorers but especially with European slavers, who had been raiding their coastal villages.
But their religion taught that they were to give charity to the helpless and hospitality to anyone who came to them with empty hands. Clearly, Squanto saw these Pilgrims as Weymouth's people. Squanto, as the only educated and baptized Christian among the Wampanoag, was seen as merely an instrument of God, set in the wilderness to provide for the survival of His chosen people, the Pilgrims. The Indians were comparatively powerful and, therefore, dangerous; and they were to be courted until the next ships arrived with more Pilgrim colonists and the balance of power shifted.
The Wampanoag were actually invited to that Thanksgiving feast for the purpose of negotiating a treaty that would secure the lands of the Plymouth Plantation for the Pilgrims. It should also be noted that the INDIANS, possibly out of a sense of charity toward their hosts, ended up bringing the majority of the food for the feast. A generation later, after the balance of power had indeed shifted, the Indian and White children of that Thanksgiving were striving to kill each other in the genocidal conflict known as King Philip's War.
At the end of that conflict most of the New England Indians were either exterminated or refugees among the French in Canada, or they were sold into slavery in the Carolinas by the Puritans. So successful was this early trade in Indian slaves that several Puritan ship owners in Boston began the practice of raiding the Ivory Coast of Africa for black slaves to sell to the proprietary colonies of the South, thus founding the American-based slave trade. Our contemporary mix of myth and history about the "First" Thanksgiving at Plymouth developed in the s and early s.
Our country was desperately trying to pull together its many diverse peoples into a common national identity. To many writers and educators at the end of the last century and the beginning of this one, this also meant having a common national history. This was the era of the "melting pot" theory of social progress, and public education was a major tool for social unity. It was with this in mind that the federal government declared the last Thursday in November as the legal holiday of Thanksgiving in In consequence, what started as an inspirational bit of New England folklore, soon grew into the full-fledged American Thanksgiving we now know.
It emerged complete with stereotyped Indians and stereotyped Whites, incomplete history, and a mythical significance as our "First Thanksgiving. Now that I have deliberately provoked you with some new information and different opinions, please take the time to read some of the texts in our bibliography.
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I want to encourage you to read further and form your own opinions. But I strongly suggest that there always has been a Thanksgiving story of some kind or other for as long as there have been human beings. There was also a "First" Thanksgiving in America, but it was celebrated thirty thousand years ago. Thanksgiving has always been a time of people coming together, so thanks has also been offered for that gift of fellowship between us all.
As for Thanksgiving week at Plymouth Plantation in , the friendship was guarded and not always sincere, and the peace was very soon abused.
But for three days in New England's history, peace and friendship were there. So here is a story for your children. It is as kind and gentle a balance of historic truth and positive inspiration as its writers and this editor can make it out to be.
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I hope it will adequately serve its purpose both for you and your students, and I also hope this work will encourage you to look both deeper and farther, for Thanksgiving is Thanksgiving all around the world. Also see Armstrong, Virginia I. People may not realize it, but what every person in this country shares, and the very history of this nation , has been in front of us the whole time.
Most of our Thanksgiving recipes are made with indigenous foods: turkey, corn, beans, pumpkins, maple, wild rice and the like. We should embrace this. For years, especially as the head of a company that focuses on indigenous foods, I have explored Native foods. It has given me—and can give all of us—a deeper understanding of the land we stand on. We Americans spend hours outdoors collecting foods like chanterelles, morels, ramps, wild ginger, chokecherries, wild plums, crab apples , cactus fruit, paw paws, manzanita berries, cattails, maple, wild rice not the black stuff from California, which is a modified and completely different version of the true wild rice growing around the Great Lakes region , cedar, rose-hips, hickory, acorns and walnuts.
We can work with Native growers producing heirloom beans, squash and pumpkins , and Native corn varieties, all coming in many shapes, sizes and colors. We can have our feasts include dishes like cedar-braised rabbit, sunchokes with sumac, pine-stewed venison, smoked turkey with chestnuts, true wild rice with foraged mushrooms, native squash with maple, smoked salmon and wild teas. No matter where you are in North America, you are on indigenous land. There is no need to make Thanksgiving about a false past. It is so much better when it celebrates the beauty of the present.
Contact us at editors time. By Sean Sherman November 19, TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary on events in news, society, and culture. We took several of the prettiest things to carry away with us, and covered the body up again. The Pilgrims settled in an area that was once Patuxet, a Wampanoag village, but it had been abandoned four years prior because of a deadly outbreak of a plague brought by European traders. Before , the Wampanoag numbered 50, to ,, occupying 69 villages scattered throughout southeastern Massachusetts and eastern Rhode Island.
The plague, however, killed thousands, up to two-thirds, of them. Many also had been captured and sold as slaves. In , when the Pilgrims were celebrating a successful harvest, they were shooting guns and cannons into the air. The Wampanoag chief and 90 warriors made their way to the settlement in full warrior mode—in response to the gunfire.
He was trying to calm things down during the Civil War when people were divided. It was like a nice unity story. According to many historical accounts, there is no proof of turkey gobbling at the meal, but there was wild fowl most likely geese or duck. Sweet potatoes were not yet grown in North American and cranberries are not a likely dessert food because sugar was an unaffordable luxury.
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