The Truth About Thanksgiving


Jaida Abdelrahman, Staff Reporter

As my parents were discussing our upcoming Thanksgiving plans, I realized that I didn’t know much about the history of Thanksgiving. Growing up we have been taught that Thanksgiving was a nationwide celebration of the Pilgrims and Natives coming together and gathering for the famous feast. However, the sad truth about this holiday has been buried deep beneath lies created by American society. I wanted to research the history of Thanksgiving in depth, and I knew that what I would find would be saddening. The first Thanksgiving recorded in history was the gathering between the English settlers and the Wampanoag tribe in 1621 in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

The reason the Wampanoag people were invited to this feast with the English Pilgrims at the time was because of a tragedy committed towards another tribe the year previous by these same settlers. This tribe was known as the Patuxet tribe. The Patuxet people had helped these English settlers after witnessing them suffer through their first harsh winter by offering their corn fields and rivers for fishing. Unfortunately, shortly after smallpox spread throughout the tribe, most members of the Patuxet perished. What most history books don’t tell you is that smallpox was brought to this country by the English. Although the smallpox outbreak that affected the Patuxet tribe was not deliberate, the disease was used later by the English to commit mass genocide among the Natives for years to come.

After witnessing the Patuxet succumb to the disease, the English took pity on the Natives and decided to invite a nearby tribe to a feast. This tribe being the Wampanoag. The English thought of this gathering as a consolation for their previous actions. In their first encounter with the Wampanoag people, the English stole from the tribe’s winter food sources, and it was not until later that their tribe leader formed an alliance between the groups. Even then, the alliance only existed because the Wampanoag people were distraught by the same diseases brought by English settlers that killed the Patuxet. It was less about united harmony and more about survival, which was necessary because of the actions of these settlers. That first harvest was followed by deadly conflicts and war between the settlers and Native people, including the Wampanoags. The English seized Native land, imprisoned, enslaved, and executed Native people. The “Thanksgiving celebrations” following this one were plagued by brutal massacres of Native people. Thanksgiving in the 21st century has become a mockery of the very people who are the foundation of our America