Once Again…

November 24, 2011 at 10:17 am (Uncategorized) (, )


…I shall post a previously posted post.  In honor of the holiday, I present the truth about Thanksgiving:

When I was an undergrad, I took quite a few courses in Native American History.  I thought it were fascinating and I was simply astounded at the things I didn’t know about the history of America.  For instance, did you know that in 1969 a group of Native Americans from many different tribes came together to occupy Alcatraz Island?  The Sioux Treaty of 1868 stated that all abandoned or unused federal land adjacent to the Sioux Reservation could be reclaimed by descendants of the Sioux Nation, and reclaim that land was what the Native Americans did.  They occupied the island for nineteen months and nine days, and this was something I was never taught about in history class.

Of course, there are many things that are simply glossed over in any given classroom full of young white students.  The history behind the very first Thanksgiving happens to be one of these things.  As a disclaimer, if you don’t want your rosy idea of Pilgrims and Indians laughing and sharing over a giant turkey to be forever altered, you should probably quit reading now and come back another day.  I know my posts are usually full of humor and wit, but this one will be a bit more serious.  Consider me Wednesday at her Thanksgiving Day pageant.

If you do a simple internet search for the true story of Thanksgiving, you’ll come up with a totally different story than the one that’s reenacted every year in elementary school gymnasiums all over the country.  Ready to learn what’s not so easy to explain to a bunch of five-year olds?

“In 1637 near present-day Groton, Connecticut, over 700 men, women and children of the Pequot Tribe had gathered for their annual Green Corn Festival (which is now our Thanksgiving celebration). In the predawn hours the sleeping Indians were surrounded by English and Dutch mercenaries who ordered them to come outside.  Those who came out were shot or clubbed to death while the terrified women and children who huddled inside the longhouse were burned alive.”

Gruesome, right?  Here’s what the Governor of Massachusetts Bay colony had to say the next day:

“A day of Thanksgiving, thanking God that they had eliminated over 700 men, women and children.”  It was then signed into law that, “This day forth shall be a day of celebration and thanksgiving for subduing the Pequots.”

Doesn’t exactly give you the warm fuzzies, does it?  Well, it’s history and history isn’t always pretty.  Here’s more:

“Cheered by their “victory”, the brave colonists and their Indian allies attacked village after village. Women and children over 14 were sold into slavery while the rest were murdered.  Boats loaded with a many as 500 slaves regularly left the ports of New England. Bounties were paid for Indian scalps to encourage as many deaths as possible.

Following an especially successful raid against the Pequot in what is now  Stamford, Connecticut, the churches announced a second day of “thanksgiving” to celebrate victory over the heathen savages.  During the feasting, the hacked off heads of Natives were kicked through the streets like soccer balls.  Even the friendly Wampanoag did not escape the madness. Their chief was beheaded, and his head impaled on a pole in Plymouth, Massachusetts — where it remained on display for 24 years.

The killings became more and more frenzied, with days of thanksgiving feasts being held after each successful massacre. George Washington finally suggested that only one day of Thanksgiving per year be set aside instead of celebrating each and every massacre. Later Abraham Lincoln decreed Thanksgiving Day to be a legal national holiday during the Civil War — on the same day he ordered troops to march against the starving Sioux in Minnesota.”

Grisly indeed.  I’m not trying to ruin your Thanksgiving or turn you against your country or anything like that.  As you can see from my last post, I’m quite thankful that I live where I do.  I’m unable, though, to give thanks properly without thinking about the true history of the holiday.  It’s only fair the Native Americans get the respect they deserve, and I like to think that Wednesday Addams would agree with me.

*Special thanks to the following websites, which provided me with valuable information and amazing quotes:

Alcatraz Island Occupation:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occupation_of_Alcatraz

http://www.pbs.org/itvs/alcatrazisnotanisland/timeline.html

The Real Thanksgiving:

http://www.manataka.org/page269.html

http://www.republicoflakotah.com/2009/cooking-the-history-books-the-thanksgiving-massacre/

http://longstreet.typepad.com/thesciencebookstore/2009/07/jf-ptak—-the-great-mystery-was-how-those–indians-were-smuggled-out-of-the-grave-in-spite-of-the-watchfulness-of-those–gu.html

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