By Cassidy Liu
For centuries, Thanksgiving has been a time of celebration, filled with family gatherings and endless amounts of feasting. However, many Americans are unaware of what exactly they are celebrating and they glorify this day without any knowledge of the true origins of Thanksgiving. To correctly celebrate this holiday, Americans should feel free to gather in thanks while being aware of the devastating history behind it.
According to the Columbian College of Arts & Sciences, the first time Thanksgiving was documented was in 1621 by the Pilgrims. However, Indians were probably already celebrating giving thanks before this time. The Pilgrims had a more religious Thanksgiving with a day of religious services which was followed by feasting.
According to Manataka American Indian Council, in 1637, while the English began to settle in the colonies, the Pequot Tribe gathered around Groton, CT, for their annual Green Corn Festival, a celebration of the ripening of corn crops for harvest. After the celebration, more than 700 people from the Pequot Tribe were sleeping when the English congregated around their camps and demanded that they come out of their shelter. As the Indians filed out, they were shot and clubbed to death. Those who remained inside their shelters were burned alive. The following day, John Winthrop, governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, announced Thanksgiving as a day of festivity for the successful slaughtering.
Indians were being preyed on by the English as a form of entertainment. During their times of festivity, Englishmen would use the heads of the decapitated as soccer balls, indicating the uncivilized behavior exhibited by the early colonists.
Additionally, despite having a peace treaty with the Wampanoag Tribe, the English did not spare them, beheading the tribe’s chief and using his head as a trophy. Soon, there was a Thanksgiving feast after every successful massacre. Eventually, George Washington suggested that Thanksgiving be a single day instead of after every massacre.
According to the New York Times, Abraham Lincoln announced Thanksgiving as an official holiday of the United States immediately after sending troops to brutally murder the Sioux tribe. Despite the fact that the Sioux were in an uprising against the United States, Lincoln’s actions were cruel and extrajudicial as the Sioux were merely suffering from grievances brought forth from the colonists decades before.
Today, most Americans are ignorant of the true story on how Thanksgiving came to be. Most people merely associate Thanksgiving with family outings and festivities. Most schools gloss over the dark history and present a story omitting the gruesome actions of early colonists towards Native Americans. Ever since 1970, protesters have started assembled atop of Cole’s Hill, a cemetery located in Plymouth, Massachusetts to shed light on the true origins of Thanksgiving in a “National Day of Mourning.” Yet people still aren’t paying attention.
Although there is nothing wrong with choosing to spend Thanksgiving with family members for a cheerful gathering, the general public should be more aware of the history behind the holiday.