Kristeen Irigoyen-Hernandez aka Lady2Soothe Follow @OurVoicesEcho
THE TRADITIONAL PILGRIMS STORY:
September 1620 one hundred and two people seeking religious freedom in the New World set sail from England on the Mayflower. The Mayflower was originally supposed to sail with a sister ship, the Speedwell, but it proved unseaworthy, so the Mayflower made the journey alone. In November 1620 the ship landed on the shores of Cape Cod, in present-day Massachusetts. A scouting party was sent out, and in late December the group landed at Plymouth Harbor, where they formed the first permanent settlement of Europeans in New England. A friendly Indian named Squanto who had learned English from fishermen taught the Pilgrims how to plant corn and other vegetables so the following year on the fourth Thursday in November 1621 Pilgrims in their silver buckled black hats and Indians adorned in buckskin leather and colorful feathers came together sitting down at a long table with a white linen tablecloth for a feast of turkey, vegetables, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie with whipped cream and had lots of fun playing games, singing and dancing.
THE REAL STORY:
Not the bullshit fed by the media and politically run educational system… This was land belonging to Indigenous from time immemorial. Native lands and Reservations ARE NOT synonymous, and part of the root of America’s lie begins in history via every Indigenous/1st Nation Peoples’ ever born. This is Native Indigenous land, stolen, returned in 1806 and stolen again.
In order to understand the full scope of Indigenous lands and how this ties to Thanksgiving, let’s go back to 1590 when the Land Bridge Theory, also known as the Bering Strait Theory or Beringia Theory was originally proposed by the Spanish missionary Fray Jose de Acosta who produced the first written record suggesting a land bridge connecting Asia to North America. The Land Bridge Theory contends people migrated from Siberia to Alaska across a land bridge spanning the current day Bering Strait. The first people to populate the Americas were believed to have migrated across the frozen Bering Land Bridge while tracking large game animal herds.
The reemergence of the Land Bridge Theory came up again in 1902… The initial empirical confirmation for the long-held Land Bridge Theory came from the discovery of spear points near Clovis, New Mexico perpetuating the Clovis-First Theory in the early 20th century, between 1929 and 1937 by matching *similar* kinds of artifacts found in Beringia. However, the Land Bridge Theory has been busted in a multitude of ways and proved a myth as per “9 – repeat allele” genetic DNA marker. Due to the propagated lies people have never bothered to learn the truth and are spewing regurgitated sound-bites just as they’ve been trained to do by the media and the educational system. This **theory** was widely adopted by most modern textbooks since the 1930’s.
Getting back to Thanksgiving… As soon as Europeans crossed the Atlantic exploring and colonizing lands and people, epidemics of infectious diseases meant illness, death, and rapid depopulation. Endemic malaria-plagued European immigrants, infections of smallpox, measles, influenza, cholera, yellow fever, and tuberculosis killed some, diseases such as syphilis and gonorrhea frequently rendered others infertile, seriously altering patterns of reproduction and population replacement. The massive changes in land use which accompanied European colonization seriously compromised Indigenous people’s health through hunger and starvation unraveling the viability of traditional social and political organization.
The inhabitants of Jamestown VA, the first settlement were starving to death because they didn’t know how to grow their own food. These settlers spent most of their days digging random holes in the ground in search of gold instead of planting crops. By the beginning of 1610, the settlers at Jamestown were dining on “dogs, cats, rats, and mice. Some colonists dug corpses out of their graves to eat them.” One man murdered his pregnant wife and “salted her for his food.” The first Virginians were so desperate they went from taking Native American slaves to offering themselves up as slaves to the Native Americans in exchange for food.
Then came the pilgrims, although they didn’t call themselves Pilgrims, it’s possible nineteenth-century writers started using the term to give the impression the Mayflower’s Puritans were somehow nicer than the Puritans who stayed in England who were a sub sect of the Puritan movement. They came to America to achieve what their Puritan brethren continued to strive for. Now keep in mind, the Pilgrims were not just innocent refugees from religious persecution. They were victims of bigotry in England, some of them were themselves religious and the Puritans and Pilgrims saw themselves as the “Chosen Elect” as 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.
New England Puritans used any means, including deceptions, treachery, torture, war, and genocide to achieve that end. They saw themselves as fighting a holy war against Satan, and everyone who disagreed with them was the enemy. This rigid fundamentalism was transmitted to America by the Plymouth colonists. In the written text of the Thanksgiving sermon delivered at Plymouth in 1623 by ‘Mather the Elder’ who gave special thanks to God for the devastating plague of smallpox which wiped out the majority of the Wampanoag Indians who had been their benefactors. 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.e., the Pilgrims. In as much as these Indians were the Pilgrim’s benefactors, and Squanto, in particular, was the instrument of their salvation.
The pilgrims who settled in a land with bountiful natural resources, which 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 1616, the Wampanoag numbered 50,000 to 100,000, occupying 69 villages scattered throughout southeastern Massachusetts and eastern Rhode Island. In fact, the end times began for Massachusetts Indians several years earlier, when British slaving crews introduced smallpox carried by their infected cattle to coastal New England killing over ninety percent of the local population. Many also had been captured and sold as slaves. Thanksgiving enthusiasts view it as a celebration of the boldness, piety, and sacrifices of the first European migrants to American shores but in reality, the appearance of the Pilgrims marks the beginning of the end.
Squanto /Tisquantum, a native living in the area taught the colonists how to survive. Young Squanto had been captured in 1614-15 as a slave by Thomas Hunt, who came to Patuxet as part of a commercial fishing and trading venture commanded by Captain John Smith. After Smith left for England, Hunt, who was to take his dried fish cargo to Spain, kidnapped 27 Natives, including Squanto and sailed to Spain to sell them into slavery. After spending several years laboring as a ship-builder in London Squanto escaped and was finally able to return home only to discover his childhood home, and most of the other settlements along the east coast had been wiped out by the plague leaving a bunch of confused Europeans squatting in the remains of the village with no idea how to survive.
The Wampanoag, 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. They knew something of the power of the White people, and they did not fully trust them. But their religion taught they were to give charity to the helpless and hospitality to anyone who came to them with empty hands. To the Pilgrims the Indians were heathens and, therefore, the natural instruments of the Devil. 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.
Squanto’s importance to the Pilgrims was enormous and it can be said they would not have survived without his help. It was Squanto who taught the Pilgrims how to tap the maple trees for sap, and gather fruit, nuts and berries. He taught them which plants were poisonous and which had medicinal powers, how to plant the Indian corn by heaping several seeds into low mounds and fertilizing with decaying fish in each mound. He also taught them to plant companion crops along corn because the seeds the Pilgrims brought consistently failed. He taught them how to fish for eels, trap for turkey, rabbits and other wild animals and introduced them to the fur trade, teaching them they could reduce their indebtedness to their London financial backers. Squanto mediated and traded on their behalf with local peoples and dealt with other native tribes; creating a peaceful trade system ensuring security against attack by giving them the means to obtain food supplement when their own supplies became insufficient, yet for all he did for them Squanto was accused of cultivating hostilities between the Indigenous and English. A last minute reprieve saved Squanto from being handed over for execution. Squanto was still a hostage to pre-America upon his death of Indian fever i.e. the White man’s plague on November 30, 1622, in Chatham, Massachusetts.
The original inhabitants living in the area now known as Brooklyn New York were Canarsees. They accepted various pieces of pretty colored junk from the Dutchman Peter Minuet in 1626. These trinkets have long since been estimated to be worth no more than 60 Dutch guilders at the time – $24 dollars in modern U.S. money. In exchange, the Canarsees “gave” Peter Minuet the island of Manhattan.
Because the Canarsees were strangers to the idea of “real property” it was common for one tribe to grant permission to another to hunt and fish nearby themselves on a regular basis. Fences, real and imagined, were not a part of their culture. Naturally, it was polite to ask before setting up operations too close to where others lived, but refusal in matters of this sort was considered rude. As a sign of gratitude, small trinkets were usually offered by the tribe seeking temporary admission and cheerfully accepted by those already there. It was clearly understood to be a sort of short-term rental arrangement.
Another Dutchman, Adrian Block, was the first European to come upon them in 1619. Block was also eager to introduce European commercialism and the Christian concept of “real estate”. Finding no fences around the land, they considered it to be in the public domain.
Not far from Manhattan, one tribe of about 10,000 Indians lived peacefully in a lovely spot on a peninsula directly along the ocean. There they fished in the open sea and inland bay. They hunted across the pristine shoreline and they were quite happy until they met a man, another Dutchman named Willem Kieft. He was the Governor of New Netherland in 1639. These 1st Nation Peoples’ were called the Rechaweygh (pronounced Rockaway). Soon after meeting Governor Kieft, they became the very first of New York’s homeless.
While the decimated Wampanoag helped the British boat people survive their first grueling year. In return for Indian generosity, Pilgrims stole their grain stores and robbed Wampanoag graves. Unknown author ~
“The next morning we found a place like a grave. We decided to dig it up. We found first a mat and under that a fine bow… We also found bowls, trays, dishes, and things like that. We took several of the prettiest things to carry away with us, and covered the body up again.”
While nature was no friend to the Pilgrims, their troubles were mostly their own doing. Poor planning was their downfall. These mostly city-dwelling Europeans failed to include among them persons with the skills needed in settling the North American wilderness. Having reached the forests and fields of Massachusetts they turned out to be pathetic hunters and incompetent butchers. With game everywhere, they went hungry. First, they couldn’t catch and kill it. Then they couldn’t cut it up, prepare it, preserve it and create a storehouse for those days when fresh supplies would run low. To compensate for their shortage of essential protein they turned to their European ways and their Christian culture. They instituted a series of religious observances. They could not hunt or farm well, but they seemed skilled at praying.
The Colonists developed a taste for something both religious and useful. They called it a ‘Day of Fasting’. Without food, it seemed like a good idea. From necessity, that single day became multiple days. As food supplies dwindled the ‘Days of Fasting’ came in bunches. Each of these episodes was eventually and thankfully followed by a meal. Appropriately enough, the Puritans credited God for this good fortune. They referred to the fact they were allowed to eat again as a “Thanksgiving.” Thus, the first written mention of the word “Thanksgiving”. NOTE: On the first Thanksgiving they were lucky if they got a piece of fish and a potato.
According to the Pilgrim Hall Museum, 53 of the colonists attended the celebration including famous names such as Bradford, Winslow, Miles Standish, and John Alden. True to the modern legend, they did invite the Wampanoag as well for the purpose of negotiating a treaty to secure the lands of the Plymouth Plantation for the Pilgrims. It should also be noted the ‘INDIANS’, possibly out of a sense of charity toward their hosts, ended up bringing the majority of the food for the feast. Winslow recalled:
“And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty” by Winslow’s account, “King Massasoit and 90 of his men showed up outnumbering their hosts, and brought with them five deer they had hunted to contribute to the feast.”
The original feast in 1621 occurred sometime between September 21 and November 11. Unlike our modern holiday, it was three days long. The event was based on English harvest festivals, which traditionally occurred around the 29th of September. The Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies.
However the first feast wasn’t repeated until 1636, so it wasn’t the beginning of a tradition, in fact, the colonists didn’t even call it Thanksgiving. To them, a thanksgiving was a religious holiday in which they would go to church and thank God for a specific event. The 1621 feast was a secular celebration, so it never would have been considered a thanksgiving in the Pilgrim’s minds; dancing, singing secular songs and playing games wouldn’t have been allowed.
After the first harvest was completed by the Plymouth colonists, Gov. William Bradford proclaimed a day of thanksgiving and prayer, shared by all the colonists and neighboring Indians. In 1623 a day of fasting and prayer during a period of drought was changed to one of thanksgiving because the rain came during the prayers. Gradually the custom prevailed in New England of annually celebrating Thanksgiving after the harvest.
Interestingly enough the colonists were contemptuous of the Indians, who they regarded as uncivilized and satanic heathens, and the fragile early peace between Native Americans and the early settlers would soon unravel in a horrific manner in what is now Mystic Connecticut. In 1637 the Pequot tribe was celebrating their own Thanksgiving, the Green Corn Festival. In the predawn hours, a band of settler English and Dutch Puritan mercenaries descended on their village longhouse of terrified women and children who huddled inside who were shot, clubbed and burned alive; over 700 native men, woman and children were slaughtered.
In 1636, a White man was found murdered in his boat and the colonists blamed the Pequot Indians. In retaliation English Major John Mason rallied his troops to burn Pequot wigwams then attacked and killed hundreds more men, women and children. According to Mason’s reports:
“We must burn them! Such a dreadful terror let the Almighty fall upon their spirits that they would flee from us and run into the very flames. Thus did the Lord judge the heathen, filling the place with dead bodies.”
The day after the massacre the Governor of Plymouth William Bradford wrote:
“Those that escaped the fire were slain with the sword; some hewed to pieces, others run through with their rapiers, so that they were quickly dispatched and very few escaped. It was conceived they thus destroyed about 400 at this time. It was a fearful sight to see them thus frying in the fire…horrible was the stink and scent thereof, but the victory seemed a sweet sacrifice, and they gave the prayers thereof to God, who had wrought so wonderfully for them. From that day forth shall be a day of celebration and thanksgiving for subduing the Pequots.”
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 1st Nation Indigenous Natives were kicked through the streets like soccer balls. Even the friendly Wampanoag did not escape the butchery. Their chief was beheaded, and his head impaled on a pole in Plymouth, Massachusetts where it remained on display for 24 years.
For the next 100 years, Indigenous villages were attacked, thousands of men, women, and children were murdered, and for every invasion a Thanksgiving Day was celebrated as ordained by a Governor in honor of each bloody victory, thanking God the battle had been won, but with so many Thanksgiving Days each year and the killings becoming more and more frenzied, with days of thanksgiving feasts being held after each successful massacre, George Washington finally suggested only one day of Thanksgiving per year be set aside instead of celebrating each and every massacre.
For a brief time beginning in 1668, November 25th was considered the “legal” annual day of Thanksgiving, but the practice lasted only five years. Thursday may have become a tradition in order to distance the event from the Sabbath day among the Puritan Colonists. Thursday was also a typical day for lectures in New England, with ministers giving a religious talk each Thursday afternoon. This practice may have contributed to the Thursday Thanksgiving tradition. Since George Washington’s time, 1789, Thursday has been the day, solidified by Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation in 1863 designating the national day of Thanksgiving to be the last Thursday of November, which incidentally was on the same day he ordered troops to march against the starving Sioux in Minnesota.
Franklin Roosevelt observed Thanksgiving on the second to last Thursday of November for two more years, but the amount of public outrage prompted Congress to pass a law on December 26, 1941, ensuring all Americans would celebrate a unified Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November.
Back then most retailers adhered to an unwritten rule that holiday shopping season didn’t start until after Thanksgiving, so no stores would advertise holiday sales or aggressively court customers until the Friday immediately following the holiday. When the floodgates opened on Friday, it became a huge deal.
In 1939, the Retail Dry Goods Association warned Franklin Roosevelt if the holiday season wouldn’t begin until after Americans celebrated Thanksgiving on the traditional final Thursday in November, retail sales would go in the tank. Roosevelt saw an easy solution to this problem: he moved Thanksgiving up by a week. Instead of celebrating the holiday on its traditional day, November 30th Roosevelt declared the next-to-last Thursday in November the new Thanksgiving, instantly tacking an extra week onto the shopping season.
Roosevelt didn’t make the announcement until late October, and by then most Americans had already made their holiday travel plans. Many rebelled and continued to celebrate Thanksgiving on its “real” date while derisively referring to the impostor holiday as “Franksgiving.” State governments didn’t know which Thanksgiving to observe, so some of them took both days off. By 1941, though, the furor had died down, and Congress passed a law making Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday in November, regardless of how it affected the shopping day which would ultimately become known as Black Friday.
According to Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Historic Preservation Officer Ramona Peters, “It was Abraham Lincoln who used the theme of Pilgrims and Indians eating happily together in an attempt to calm tempers during the Civil War when people were divided. It was a nice unity story but it didn’t change the fact 1st Nation Indigenous Native Americans didn’t hate Europeans just for the clouds of shit-smelling awfulness they dragged around behind them. Missionaries met Indians who thought Europeans were “physically weak, sexually untrustworthy, atrociously ugly” and “possessed little intelligence in comparison to themselves.” The Europeans didn’t do much to debunk the comparison in the physical beauty department. Verrazzano, the sailor who witnessed the densely populated East Coast, called a native who boarded his ship “as beautiful in stature and build as I can possibly describe.” British fisherman William Wood described the Indians in New England as “more amiable to behold, though dressed only in Adam’s finery, than … an English dandy in the newest fashion.”
The idyllic partnership of 17th Century European Pilgrims and New England Indians sharing a celebratory meal appears to be less than 120 years-old. And it was only after the First World War a version of such a Puritan-Indian partnership took hold in elementary schools across the American landscape. We can thank the invention of textbooks and their mass purchase by public schools for embedding this “Thanksgiving” image in our modern minds. It was, of course, a complete invention, a cleverly created slice of cultural propaganda in another long line of inspired nationalistic myths.
James W. Baker, author of Thanksgiving: The Biography of an American Holiday, points to Alexander Young, author of an 1841 book about the Pilgrims, which referenced Winslow’s letter mentioning the harvest feast. Young added a footnote describing the event as “the first Thanksgiving,” and this idea apparently resonated with Americans. Today, the image of the Pilgrims in their buckled hats sitting down at the table to a sumptuous dinner with their Native American friends is a tradition imprinted in our minds
To date over 400 Pleistocene archeological sites in the western hemisphere older than 11,000 years old have been unearthed. Indigenous 1st Nation people been here over 60,000 years, likely over 100,000 years, and there is a great deal of evidence to support it. So:
“No matter where you live in America, you’re living on occupied land that Indigenous peoples’ we’re murdered for.” ~ Frank Waln
IN CONCLUSION: If you’re going to be thankful for something this Thanksgiving Day be thankful Indigenous 1st Nations people only want equality and not White Genocide.