From Trail of Tears to texting (language)

Cherokee language: From Trail of Tears to texting in the native tongue


As elders worry about whether their culture will survive, children continue learning to speak as their ancestors did

November 22, 2014 5:00AM ET
by Juliana Keeping   @julianakeeping

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The children stand in a circle, just beyond a poster of a U.S. map that highlights the swath of the Southeastern United States that the Cherokees once controlled.

The fourth-grade students are in a classroom at the Cherokee Nation Immersion School in eastern Oklahoma, where they speak, learn and write in nothing but the tongue of their ancestors.

The conversation among the animated pupils bounces around the circle. They are preparing for a Cherokee language competition and in doing so, talking about a scenario in which they are looking to meet up with their teacher, Glenda Beitz, in a Walmart parking lot — if they could only remember where she lived.

The exercise aims to emphasize Oklahoma town names because “those are disappearing in our language,” said Beitz, 49, who has taught the class of eight 9-year-olds since they entered kindergarten.

Access full article below: 

http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/11/22/cherokee-languageoklahoma.html

NB3 and Native American Heritage Month

NB3 and Native American Heritage Month
November Is Native American and National Diabetes Prevention Month
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NB3 Foundation & Native American Heritage Month
Also National Diabetes Prevention Month

You probably know that November is both Native American Heritage Month and National Diabetes Prevention Month. As you spend time celebrating Native American culture and tradition this month, NB3F asks that you take a moment to think about the health epidemics affecting Native children in our country.
Data suggests that half of all Native children will develop type 2 diabetes, which is more than 9 times the risk their non-Native peers face
NB3F is committed supporting and assisting grassroots, homegrown community responses to the health crisis affecting Native Americans. Please consider making a gift in honor of Native American Heritage Month!
Your donation of $20, $50 or even $100 will assist NB3F in our efforts to help Native children know the importance of a healthy diet and an active lifestyle. No gift is too small to help the next generation of Native children Live Healthy, Live Strong and Live Native.
Make a gift today to support NB3F in addressing the current health crisis Native American children are facing
 
 You can find more information on our focus on Native health by:
 
Thank you,


Crystal Echo Hawk
Executive Director
Notah Begay III Foundation

 

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2014 Elders Dinner and Inter-Triba Gathering

2014 Elders Dinner and Inter-Triba Gathering

Northern California Indian Development Council's 2014 Inter-Tribal Gathering & Elders Dinner

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washington slurskin (mascot)

National Congress of American Indians

Watch the ‪#‎BigGame commercial the NFL would never air.

Get involved by contacting the Washington Professional Football Team, the NFL and the Washington Post:

DC Team

@redskins

Facebook.com/redskins

http://www.redskins.com/footer/contact-us.html 

Roger Goodell & NFL

@NFL

@NFLcommish

http://www.nfl.com/contact-us

https://www.facebook.com/NFL 

Washington Post

DC's hometown paper is still using the R-word in its coverage of the team.

@WashingtonPost

@PostSports

https://www.facebook.com/washingtonpost

Contact the Washington Post:

202-334-6100

http://help.washingtonpost.com/ics/support/ticketnewwizard.asp?style=classic&deptID=15080

Thank you to all of the filmmakers who donated their footage.

 

 

Preventing Flu

Preventing Flu
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Information for Schools & Childcare Providers

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The single best way to protect against seasonal flu and its potential severe complications is for children to get a seasonal influenza vaccine each year.Educators and staff can help slow the spread of colds and flu. On this page, you will find information on preventing the flu as well as materials and tools for schools.

Each year, an average of 20,000 children under the age of 5 are hospitalized because of flu-related complications. Influenza causes more hospitalizations among young children than any other vaccine-preventable disease. The single best way to protect against seasonal flu and its potential severe complications is for children to get a seasonal influenza vaccine each year. Flu vaccination is recommended for all children aged 6 months and older. Making healthy choices at school and at home can help prevent the flu and spreading flu to others.

Encourage children, parents, and staff to take the following everyday preventive actions[2 MB, 2 pages]:

  • Stay home when you are sick. If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue away after use and wash your hands. If a tissue is not available, cover your mouth and nose with your sleeve, not your hand.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces or objects. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill.

School-Located Vaccination

Guidance and Resources

 

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First Tday (holidaze

First Tday (holidaze
Holidaze
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Native News Network

First thanksgiving Info

from the November 27, 2002 edition –
http://www.csmonitor.com/2002/1127/p13s02-lign.html
 
The first Thanksgiving
 
In the fall of 1621, 90 Wampanoag Indians and 52 English colonists gathered for a three-day harvest feast. How did Americans get from that celebration to the Thanksgiving 'traditions' we observe today?
 
By Elizabeth Armstrong | Special to The Christian Science Monitor
 
PLYMOUTH, MASS. - Everyone knows about the Pilgrims and the Indians, right? How the two groups gathered peacefully in Plymouth, Mass., to feast on juicy turkeys and colorful pumpkin pies.
 
The trouble is, almost everything we've been taught about the first Thanksgiving in 1621 is a myth. The holiday has two distinct histories - the actual one and a romanticized portrayal.
 
Today, Americans celebrate a holiday based largely on the latter, whose details of turkey and cranberry sauce decorating one long table stem from the creative musings of a magazine editor in the mid-1800s.
 
The true history has been a difficult one to uncover. Staff at Plimoth Plantation, which occupies several acres on the outskirts of the city of Plymouth, just north of Cape Cod, have been in the vanguard of researching the event. But a big obstacle remains: Everything historians know today is based on two passages written by colonists.
 
Participants' accounts
 
In a letter to a friend, dated December 1621, Edward Winslow wrote: "Our harvest being gotten in, our Governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a more special manner rejoice together, after we had gathered the fruit of our labors; they four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the Company almost a week, at which time, among other Recreations, we exercised our Arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest King Massasoit, with some 90 men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted and they went out and killed five Deer, which they brought to the Plantation and bestowed on our Governor, and upon the Captain and others."
 
Twenty years later, William Bradford wrote a book that provides a few more hints as to what might have been on that first Thanksgiving table. But his book was stolen by British looters during the Revolutionary War and therefore didn't have much influence on how Thanksgiving was celebrated until it turned up many years later.
 
No one is certain whether the Wampanoag and the colonists regularly sat together and shared their food, or if the three-day "thanksgiving" feast Mr. Winslow recorded for posterity was a one-time event.
 
In the culture of the Wampanoag Indians, who inhabited the area around Cape Cod, "thanksgiving" was an everyday activity.
 
"We as native people [traditionally] have thanksgivings as a daily, ongoing thing," says Linda Coombs, associate director of the Wampanoag program at Plimoth Plantation. "Every time anybody went hunting or fishing or picked a plant, they would offer a prayer or acknowledgment."
 
But for the 52 colonists - who had experienced a year of disease, hunger, and diminishing hopes - their bountiful harvest was cause for a special celebration to give thanks.
 
"Neither the English people nor the native people in 1621 knew they were having the first Thanksgiving," Ms. Coombs says. No one knew that the details would interest coming generations.
 
"We're not sure why Massasoit and the 90 men ended up coming to Plimoth," Coombs says. "There's an assumption that they were invited, but nowhere in the passage does it say they were. And the idea that they sat down and lived happily ever after is, well, untrue. The relationship between the English and the Wampanoag was very complex."
 
Since they did not speak the same language, the extent to which the colonists and Indians intermingled remains a mystery. But a few details of that first Thanksgiving are certain, says Kathleen Curtin, food historian at the Plimoth Plantation.
 
What was on the menu?
 
First, wild turkey was never mentioned in Winslow's account. It is probable that the large amounts of "fowl" brought back by four hunters were seasonal waterfowl such as duck or geese.
 
And if cranberries were served, they would have been used for their tartness or color, not the sweet sauce or relish so common today. In fact, it would be 50 more years before berries were boiled with sugar and used as an accompaniment to meat.
 
Potatoes weren't part of the feast, either. Neither the sweet potato nor the white potato was yet available to colonists.
 
The presence of pumpkin pie appears to be a myth, too. The group may have eaten pumpkins and other squashes native to New England, but it is unlikely that they had the ingredients for pie crust - butter and wheat flour. Even if they had possessed butter and flour, the colonists hadn't yet built an oven for baking.
 
"While we have been able to work out which modern dishes were not available in 1621, just what was served is a tougher nut to crack," Ms. Curtin says.
 
A couple of guesses can be made from other passages in Winslow's correspondence about the general diet at the time: lobsters, mussels, "sallet herbs," white and red grapes, black and red plums, and flint corn.
 
"We have only one documented harvest feast that occurred between the cultures," Curtin points out. "You don't hear about [any other] harvests occurring between them. I assume that they did on some level, but it's fascinating that it is just that one source, one sentence in one letter. I wonder what else is there that someone just didn't jot down, and we now know nothing about."
 
Until the early 1800s, Thanksgiving was considered to be a regional holiday celebrated solemnly through fasting and quiet reflection.
 
But the 19th century had its own Martha Stewart, and it didn't take her long to turn New England fasting into national feasting. Sarah Josepha Hale, editor of the popular Godey's Lady's Book, stumbled upon Winslow's passage and refused to let the historic day fade from the minds - or tables - of Americans. This established trendsetter filled her magazine with recipes and editorials about Thanksgiving.
 
It was also about this time - in 1854, to be exact - that Bradford's history book of Plymouth Plantation resurfaced. The book increased interest in the Pilgrims, and Mrs. Hale and others latched onto the fact he mentioned that the colonists had killed wild turkeys during the autumn.
 
In her magazine Hale wrote appealing articles about roasted turkeys, savory stuffing, and pumpkin pies - all the foods that today's holiday meals are likely to contain.
 
In the process, she created holiday "traditions" that share few similarities with the original feast in 1621.
 
In 1858, Hale petitioned the president of the United States to declare Thanksgiving a national holiday. She wrote: "Let this day, from this time forth, as long as our Banner of Stars floats on the breeze, be the grand Thanksgiving holiday of our nation, when the noise and tumult of worldliness may be exchanged for the length of the laugh of happy children, the glad greetings of family reunion, and the humble gratitude of the Christian heart."
 
Five years later, Abraham Lincoln declared the last Thursday of November "as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens."
 
"[Hale's] depiction is wrong much more often than it's right," says Nancy Brennan, president of Plimoth Plantation. "When this idea [of the first Thanksgiving] caught on, it became a big, popular subject for prints and books and paintings, all of which used whatever people could gather about what the environment might have been like in 1621."
 
A native view
 
With little mention of the native population, the Wampanoag presence was virtually relegated to the background, and the Pilgrim presence promoted to the fore.
 
"The Wampanoag, we sometimes forget, were the majority population," Ms. Brennan says. "In the 19th and 20th centuries, Thanksgiving was really a tool for Americanization amid the great influx of immigration. It was supposed to bind this diverse population into one union."
 
And so, over the centuries, that first Thanksgiving took on a shape of mythological proportions. But how Americans celebrate today has little to do with the convergence of two different populations across an enormous cultural divide.
 
One man who would like people to know more about the actual Thanksgiving is descended from the Wampanoag Indians who were such an essential part of the first Thanksgiving celebration.
 
He steps out onto the porch in front of the Flume restaurant in Plymouth and looks south. He lifts his face - marked by deep lines and dark, heavy eyes - toward the open sky.
 
"I'm looking down the river here now, and the sun is bright, and the tide is high, and the wind is blowing," he says. "My people would say that is the spirit coming from the southwest, where the corn and beans and squash come from. So we thank the spirit world - the fire, the moon, the sky, the sun, the earth."
 
This man's name is Earl Mills Sr., and he is a retired high school teacher and athletic director, the author of two books, and the owner of the restaurant.
 
But Mr. Mills has another name and another job. As Flying Eagle, he is the chief of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe.
 
Still, he doesn't see himself as caught between two cultures. Instead, he embraces both.
 
With equal relish, Mills will spend an afternoon walking in peaceful silence, as his ancestors did, or an evening listening to the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
 
He has always spent a lot of time thinking about the history of his people, however, and the confusion about what really happened back in 1621.
 
"Things have changed so much," he says, choosing his words carefully. "Even Thanksgiving has changed. Young people today don't remember what it was like 50 or 100 years ago.
 
"Then, we picked our own cranberries from our own cranberry bogs, and we caught rabbits and hung them outside our garage doors."
 
More recently, Coombs remembers that as she was growing up, her family celebrated the holiday as most other Americans did. She went to her grandfather's house, ate a turkey dinner, and watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on television. It wasn't until she was in college that she learned her ancestors had observed Thanksgiving in a different manner.
 
It is not just the eating, but the gathering together, preparing, and thanking that matters, Mills says. "The role of food is important, but it's gotten to the point where we become gluttons.... We could spend a lot more time really thinking about what's going on in our world and giving more thanks."
 
Whose history is it?
 
Mills points to the Plymouth Rock on the town's waterfront as an example of differing views. The rock, first placed in 1774, is a monument to the landing of the Mayflower, the ship that brought the Pilgrims to Massachusetts 382 years ago.
 
"They're saying this is 'America's hometown,' that this is the rock [the colonists] stepped on," Mills says. "I'm not against that, and it's nice to have the rock, but don't try to make it true when it's really a symbol, a mythology."
 
He's also disturbed by the fact that many people still don't know or seem quick to dismiss the native side of the story.
 
"When I talk about Thanksgiving, [some people think] it happened too long ago to matter," Mills says. "But when they talk about it, well, it's history."
 
Still, the Wampanoag now have many more opportunities to contribute to historical accounts of the region, offering insight into the traditions of their people that have been passed down orally through the generations.
 
"The two groups are working very well together in recent years," Mills says. "And those connections turn into a circle. No matter how small, how minor, they all contribute to the human beings that we are."
 
In late 1621, remembering the first Thanksgiving gathering, Edward Winslow expressed a sentiment similar to Mills's call for sharing and giving thanks:"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."
 
What historians do know about Thanksgiving
 
There are many myths surrounding Thanksgiving. Here are nine things we do know are true about the holiday.
 
1. The first Thanksgiving was a harvest celebration in 1621 that lasted for three days.
 
2. The feast most likely occurred between Sept. 21 and Nov. 11.
 
3. Approximately 90 Wampanoag Indians and 52 colonists - the latter mostly women and children - participated.
 
4. The Wampanoag, led by Chief Massasoit, contributed at least five deer to the feast.
 
5. Cranberry sauce, potatoes - white or sweet - and pies were not on the menu.
 
6. The Pilgrims and Wampanoag communicated through Squanto, a member of the Patuxet tribe, who knew English because he had associated with earlier explorers.
 
7. Besides meals, the event included recreation and entertainment.
 
8. There are only two surviving descriptions of the first Thanksgiving. One is in a letter by colonist Edward Winslow. He mentions some of the food and activities. The second description was in a book written by William Bradford 20 years afterward. His account was lost for almost 100 years.
 
9. Abraham Lincoln named Thanksgiving an annual holiday in 1863.
 
Full HTML version of this story which may include photos, graphics, and related links
 
 
www.csmonitor.com | Copyright © 2002 The Christian Science Monitor. All rights reserved. 
 
The first feast was held in 1621 to which Massasoit and 90 Indians came with food (see first two links below), however the last link is about the proclamation of 1676 which includes: "The Holy God having by a long and Continual Series of his Afflictive dispensations in and by the present Warr with the Heathen Natives of this land, ... It certainly bespeaks our positive Thankfulness, when our Enemies are in any measure disappointed or destroyed..."
 
http://members.aol.com/calebj/thanksgiving.html
http://www.plimoth.org/Library/Thanksgiving/firstT.htm
http://www.law.ou.edu/hist/thanksgiv.html
 
Are You Teaching the Real Story of the "First Thanksgiving"?
Are you teaching the true Thanksgiving story or is the version you're passing on to your students a blend of fact and myth? Ready to set the record straight?
http://www.education-world.com/a_curr/curr040.shtml
 
"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," says Chuck Larsen in the introduction to Teaching About Thanksgiving. "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," Larsen adds.
Larsen seems to know of what he speaks. As a public school teacher, a historian, and an American of Indian heritage, Larsen has always had a difficult time teaching about the Thanksgiving holiday.
"Every year I have been faced with the professional and moral dilemma of just how to be honest and informative with my children at Thanksgiving without passing on historical distortions, and racial and cultural stereotypes," Larsen says in his introduction.
"The problem is that part of what you and I learned in our childhood about the 'Pilgrims' and 'Squanto' and the 'First Thanksgiving' is a mixture of both history and myth," Larsen continues. "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 Plymouth Plantation."
Larsen goes on to try to sort out the myth from the true history in his introduction to "Teaching About Thanksgiving," a project of The Fourth World Documentation Project of The Center for World Indigenous Studies. The project includes an accurate telling of "The Plymouth Thanksgiving Story" along with study and discussion questions, ideas for enrichment, art projects, and authentic recipes -- all intended to enable teachers to accurately portray the events surrounding the first Thanksgiving.
In closing his introduction, Larsen provokes with a question: "What started as an inspirational bit of New England folklore soon grew into the full-fledged American Thanksgiving we now know... But was [that 'First Thanksgiving'] really our first Thanksgiving?"
"There really was a true Thanksgiving story of Plymouth Plantation," Larsen says. "But I strongly suggest that there has always 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…Every last Thursday in November we now partake in one of the oldest and most universal of human celebrations, and there are many Thanksgiving stories to tell."
STEREOTYPES, FOR EXAMPLE
"Teaching About Thanksgiving" offers a handful of the "old stereotypes" that are often reinforced in classrooms across the United States. According to the article, "If you enact the story of the first thanksgiving as a pageant or drama in your classroom, here are some things to consider:
"Indians should wear appropriate clothing. NO WARBONNETS! A blanket draped over one shoulder is accurate for a simple outfit.
"Squanto and Samoset spoke excellent English. Other Indians would have said things in the Algonkian language.
"These people were noted for their formal speaking style.
"Indians in the Woodlands area did not have tipis or horses, so these should not be part of any scenery or backdrop.
"Any food served should be authentic. The following would be appropriate: corn soup, succotash, white fish, red meat, various fowl (turkey, partridge, duck), berries (including whole cranberries), maple sugar candies, corn starch candy (believe it or not, candy corn is almost authentic except for the colored dyes), watercress, any kind of bean (red, black, green, pinto), squash…."
 
Larsen has detractors...
Caleb Johnson, creator of the MayflowerHistory.com Web pages, claims that Larsen's "Teaching About Thanksgiving" contains many factual errors. (See A Factual Rebuttal to a Popular Thanksgiving Lesson Plan.) Among the facts above disputed by Johnson is the idea that "Squanto and Samoset spoke excellent English." They spoke broken English at best, Johnson writes.
In Thanksgiving on the Net: Roast Bull with Cranberry Sauce, Jeremy Bangs makes an effort to sift through the "more than two hundred websites that 'correct' our assumptions about Thanksgiving" and set the record straight. "Setting people straight about Thanksgiving myths has become as much a part of the annual holiday as turkey, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie," he writes.
THE NATIVE AMERICAN PERSPECTIVE
"Young children's conceptions of Native Americans often develop out of media portrayals and classroom role playing of the events of the First Thanksgiving. That conception of Native Americans gained from such early exposure is both inaccurate and potentially damaging to others," says Debbie Reese in "Teaching Young Children About Native Americans," an ERIC Digest (May 1996).
For example, a visitor to a child care center heard a four-year-old saying, "Indians aren't people. They're all dead." "This child," Reese says, "had already acquired an inaccurate view of Native Americans, even though her classmates were children of many cultures, including a Native American child."
"By failing to challenge existing biases we allow children to adopt attitudes based on inaccuracies," Reese continues.
"Most of the commercially prepared teaching materials available present a generalized image of Native American people with little or no regard for differences that exist from tribe to tribe," Reese adds. "Many popular children's authors unwittingly perpetuate stereotypes. Richard Scarry's books frequently contain illustrations of animals dressed in buckskin and feathers, while Mercer Mayer's alphabet book includes an alligator dressed as an Indian."
TEACHING SUGGESTIONS: POSITIVE STRATEGIES
A number of positive strategies can be used in classrooms, writes Reese.
  • "Provide knowledge about contemporary Native Americans to balance historical information. Teaching about Native Americans exclusively from a historical perspective may perpetuate the idea that they exist only in the past.
  • "Prepare units about specific tribes rather than units about "Native Americans." For example, develop a unit about the people of Nambe Pueblo, the Turtle Mountain Chippewa, the Potawotami. Ideally, choose a tribe with a historical or contemporary role in the local community. Such a unit will provide children with culturally specific knowledge (pertaining to a single group) rather than overgeneralized stereotypes.
  • "Locate and use books that show contemporary children of all colors engaged in their usual, daily activities (for example, playing basketball or riding bicycles) as well as traditional activities. Make the books easily accessible to children throughout the school year. Three excellent titles on the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico are Pueblo Storyteller by Diane Hoyt-Goldsmith; Pueblo Boy: Growing Up In Two Worlds by Marcia Keegan; and Children of Clay by Rina Swentzell.
  • "Cook ethnic foods but be careful not to imply that all members of a particular group eat a specific food.
  • "Be specific about which tribes use particular items, when discussing cultural artifacts (such as clothing or housing) and traditional foods. The Plains tribes use feathered headdresses, for example, but not all other tribes use them.
  • "Critique a Thanksgiving poster depicting the tradtitional, stereotyped Pilgrim and Indian figures, especially when teaching older elementary school children. Take care to select a picture that most children are familiar with, such as those shown on grocery bags or holiday greeting cards. Critically analyze the poster, noting the many tribes the artist has combined into one general image that fails to provide accurate information about any single tribe.
  • "At Thanksgiving, shift the focus away from reenacting the 'First Thanksgiving.' Instead, focus on items children can be thankful for in their own lives, and on their families' celebrations of Thanksgiving at home."
"Besides using these strategies in their classrooms, teachers need to educate themselves," Reese continues. "Stereotyping is not always obvious to people surrounded by mainstream culture. Numerous guidelines have been prepared to aid in the selection of materials that work against stereotypes."
"Much remains to be done to counter stereotypes of Native Americans learned by young children in our society," writes Reese in the conclusion to her ERIC Digest. "Teachers must provide accurate instruction not only about history but also about the contemporary lives of Native Americans."
FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
For activities and a long list of Web sites related to the Pilgrims, Native Americans, and the "First Thanksgiving" be sure to see this week's Education World LESSON PLANNING articles:
Classroom Activities for Exploring Native Americans
Blast stereotypes with across the curriculum activities for students of all ages.
The "First Thanksgiving" -- A Feast of Activities
Looking to cook up a feast of across-the-curriculum fun? The table is set with a plentiful selection of ideas. Dig in!
It's Turkey Time! "Gobble, gobble, gobble...."
Increase your students' knowledge and skills when you use TURKEYS as a teaching theme.
Article by Gary Hopkins
Education World ® Editor-in-Chief
Copyright © 2006 Education World
Originally published 11/24/1997
Last updated 10/04/2006

Day of the Feast
So As To Honor Carnage
by Nokwisa Yona, NAV Contributing Editor
 
http://www.imdiversity.com/article_detail.asp?Article_ID=1275
 
"Whenever, in the course of the daily hunt, the hunter comes upon a scene that is strikingly beautiful, or sublime - a black thundercloud with the rainbow's glowing arch above the mountain, a white waterfall in the heart of a green gorge, a vast prairie tinged with the blood-red of the sunset - he pauses for an instant in the attitude of worship.
 
"He sees no need for setting apart one day in seven as a holy day, because to him all days are God's days." - Charles Alexander Eastman (Ohiyesa)/Santee Sioux
 
Beware. The season is upon us... It is coming...
 
Thanksgiving is closing in quickly with all its inaccurate historic and palatable falsities, steeped in supposed commemoration of a celebration between Pilgrims and Natives.
 
Once again small children will don paper hats and headdresses while mothers stock freezers and shelves with turkey, cranberries, dressing mix and potatoes. Dads prepare by reviewing football game line-ups.
 
Though many hold out for the associated glut and entertainment, some Americans do keep with a spirit of thanks and, in spite of the truth, words escape - "in keeping with the Pilgrim's thanks." But, for what were the Pilgrims giving thanks?
 
Massasoit's good faith... "Massasoit, therefore, had good reason to hope the English could benefit his people and help them end Narragansett domination. In March (1621) Massasoit, accompanied by Samoset, visited Plymouth and signed a treaty of friendship with the English giving them permission of occupy the approximately 12,000 acres of what was to become the Plymouth plantation. However, it is very doubtful Massasoit fully understood the distinction between the European concept of owning land versus the native idea of sharing it. For the moment, this was unimportant since so many of his people had died during the epidemics that New England was half-deserted. Besides, it must have been difficult for the Wampanoag to imagine how any people so inept could ever be a danger to them. The friendship and cooperation continued, and the Pilgrims were grateful enough that fall to invite Massasoit to celebrate their first harvest with them (The First Thanksgiving).
 
Massasoit and 90 of his men brought five deer, and the feasting lasted for three days. The celebration was a little premature. During the winter of 1622, a second ship arrived unexpectedly from England, and with 40 new mouths to feed, the Pilgrims were once again starving. Forgiving the unfortunate incident in the graveyard the previous year, the Nauset sachem Aspinet brought food to Plymouth." [See Wampanoag Compact History]
 
Stage set for more "thanks to the Lord"
 
"The [1636] massacre at Mystic broke the Pequot. Despite the obvious loss of life, the Pequot still had most of their warriors, but the attack demonstrated their fortified villages were vulnerable and deprived the Pequot of the support they needed from their allies. Starving and unable to plant their crops, the Pequot abandoned their villages, separated into small bands, and fled for their lives. As small groups, they were easy prey, and few escaped. After an abortive attempt to find refuge among the Metoac on Long Island, Sassacus in June led 400 of his people west paralleling the coast and its seafood because they were short of food. Slowed by their women and children, the Pequot crossed the Connecticut but killed three Englishmen they encountered near Saybrook. Unfortunate, because it told the English exactly where they were. Hartford declared June 15th as a day of prayer and thanksgiving for the "victory" at Mystic. The English, however, were not satisfied with merely winning the war and had decided to destroy the Pequot." [See Pequot Compact History]
 
"And indeed such a dreadful Terror did the Almighty let fall upon their Spirits, that they would fly from us and run into the very Flames, where many of them perished...God was above them, who laughed his Enemies and the Enemies of his People to Scorn, making them as a fiery Oven: Thus were the Stout Hearted people spoiled, having slept their last sleep, and none of their Men could find their Hands: Thus did the Lord judge among the Heathen, filling the place with dead bodies!" American Holocaust, David E. Stannard, pg. 113
 
Pillage honored
 
Then we have the proclamation shared among the thankful on June 20, 1676, when the governing council of Charlestown, Massachusetts, unanimously voted to proclaim June 29 as a day of thanksgiving:
 
"The Holy God having by a long and Continual Series of his Afflictive dispensations in and by the present Warr with the Heathen Natives of this land, written and brought to pass bitter things against his own Covenant people in this wilderness, yet so that we evidently discern that in the midst of his judgments he hath remembered mercy, having remembered his Footstool in the day of his sore displeasure against us for our sins, with many singular Intimations of his Fatherly Compassion, and regard; reserving many of our Towns from Desolation Threatened, and attempted by the Enemy, and giving us especially of late with many of our Confederates many signal Advantages against them, without such Disadvantage to ourselves as formerly we have been sensible of, if it be the Lord's mercy that we are not consumed, It certainly bespeaks our positive Thankfulness, when our Enemies are in any measure disappointed or destroyed; and fearing the Lord should take notice under so many Intimations of his returning mercy, we should be found an Insensible people, as not standing before Him with Thanksgiving, as well as lading him with our Complaints in the time of pressing Afflictions:
 
The Council has thought meet to appoint and set apart the 29th day of this instant June, as a day of Solemn Thanksgiving and praise to God for such his Goodness and Favour, many Particulars of which mercy might be Instanced, but we doubt not those who are sensible of God's Afflictions, have been as diligent to espy him returning to us; and that the Lord may behold us as a People offering Praise and thereby glorifying Him; the Council doth commend it to the Respective Ministers, Elders and people of this Jurisdiction; Solemnly and seriously to keep the same Beseeching that being persuaded by the mercies of God we may all, even this whole people offer up our bodies and souls as a living and acceptable Service unto God by Jesus Christ." [See http://www.night.net/thanksgiving/First-proc.htm]
 
There is also the thankful declaration of 1704 by Governor Dudley calling for a General Thanksgiving to celebrate: "[God's] infinite Goodness to extend His Favors... In defeating and disappointing.... the expeditions of the Enemy [Indians] against us, And the good Success given us against them, by delivering so many of them into our hands."
 
In truth, America's Thanksgiving is wrought with false and misleading history. It is not and has never been meant in Honor of the Indian People. We have our own Harvest feasts, Ceremonies and manner of Thanks and if you are serious about this "holiday," I (and, all members of the First Nations) ask you to do your homework.
 
Below are several sites that address the "other" side of this day:
 
Thanksgiving: A National Day of Mourning for Indians, by Moonanum James and Mahtowin Munro
 
Open a Can of Worms for Thanksgiving, by Patricia Ross
 
Teaching Young Children about Native Americans (ERIC Digest), by Debbie Reese
 
Wampanaog Compact History, by Lee Sultzman Pequot Compact History, by Lee Sultzman
 
A First Proclamation, Prepared by Gerald Murphy (The Cleveland Free-Net - aa300). Distributed by the Cybercasting Services Division of the National Public Telecomputing Network (NPTN)
 
 
Andre Cramblit, Operations Director
Northern California Indian Development Council
andrekaruk@ncidc.org
241F Street Eureka California 95501
http://ncidc.org
(707) 445-8451

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Deconstructing Thanksgiving (holidaze)

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Deconstructing Thanksgiving

Deconstructing the Myths of “The First Thanksgiving”
 
by Judy Dow (Abenaki) and Beverly Slapin
 
What is it about the story of “The First Thanksgiving” that makes it essential to be taught in virtually every grade from preschool through high school? What is it about the story that is so seductive? Why has it become an annual elementary school tradition to hold Thanksgiving pageants, with young children dressing up in paper-bag costumes and feather-duster headdresses and marching around the schoolyard?  Why is it seen as necessary for fake “pilgrims” and fake “Indians” (portrayed by real children, many of whom are Indian) to sit down every year to a fake feast, acting out fake scenarios and reciting fake dialogue about friendship? And why do teachers all over the country continue (for the most part, unknowingly) to perpetuate this myth year after year after year?
 
Is it because as Americans we have a deep need to believe that the soil we live on and the country on which it is based was founded on integrity and cooperation? This belief would help contradict any feelings of guilt that could haunt us when we look at our role in more recent history in dealing with other indigenous peoples in other countries. If we dare to give up the “myth” we may have to take responsibility for our actions both concerning indigenous peoples of this land as well as those brought to this land in violation of everything that makes us human. The realization of these truths untold might crumble the foundation of what many believe is a true democracy. As good people, can we be strong enough to learn the truths of our collective past? Can we learn from our mistakes? This would be our hope. 
 
Myth #1: “The First Thanksgiving” occurred in 1621.
 
“Thanksgiving is a truly American holiday. Its traditions began in the New World with a feast shared by the Pilgrims and Native Americans….The Pilgrims decided to have a three-day celebration feast to give thanks for a good harvest. Thus began the first Thanksgiving.”
Judith Stamper, Thanksgiving Fun Activity Book
 
“In New England the first traditional Thanksgiving was celebrated by the Plymouth colonists.”
Kathy Ross, Crafts for Thanksgiving
 
"During the fall of 1621, he declared that there would be a feast to celebrate their first bountiful harvest….Today, we think of that wonderful harvest feast…as the first American Thanksgiving. (Although for them Native Americans, it was actually their fifth thanksgiving feast of the year!)”
Deborah Fink, It's a Family Thanksgiving!
 
“The first Thanksgiving was a celebration of the Pilgrims’ very first harvest….[The cornucopia reminds] us of the first Thanksgiving when Pilgrims gave thanks for their first rich harvest in the New World.”
Janice Kinnealy, Let’s Celebrate Thanksgiving, A Book of Drawing Fun
 
“The feast at Plymouth in 1621 is often called The First Thanksgiving.”
                                                            Robert Merrill Bartlett, The Story of                                        Thanksgiving
“The pilgrims wanted to give thanks for all the good food. That was the first Thanksgiving.”
Karen Gray Ruelle, The Thanksgiving Beast Feast
 
Fact: No one knows when the “first” thanksgiving occurred. People have been giving thanks for as long as people have existed. Indigenous nations all over the world have celebrations of the harvest that come from very old traditions; for Native peoples, thanksgiving comes not once a year, but every day, for all the gifts of life. To refer to the harvest feast of 1621 as “The First Thanksgiving” disappears Indian peoples in the eyes of non-Native children.
 
••••
 
Myth #2: The people who came across the ocean on the Mayflower were called Pilgrims.
 
“The Pilgrims lived in England.”
                                                            Robert Merrill Bartlett, The Story of                                        Thanksgiving
 
“The first group of newcomers was called the Pilgrims.”
David F. Marx, Thanksgiving
 
“Once upon a time in the land of England, there lived a small group of people called Pilgrims. The Pilgrims were unhappy, because…”
Katherine Ross, The Story of the Pilgrims
 
 “Many, many years ago some people who called themselves Pilgrims left England to find a new home.”
Lou Rogers, The First Thanksgiving
 
The people were called Pilgrims.”
Ann McGovern, The Pilgrims’ First Thanksgiving
 
 “The Pilgrims sailed on a ship called the Mayflower.”
Judy Donnelly, The Pilgrims and Me
 
“Many years ago, the Pilgrims came to America.”
Pat Whitehead, Best Thanksgiving Book, ABC Adventures
 
 “These are the Pilgrims, who farmed the new land,…”
Rhonda Gowler Greene, The Very First Thanksgiving Day
 
 “Thanksgiving reminds people of the Pilgrims many years ago.”
Gail Gibbons, Thanksgiving Day
 
 “The Pilgrims!’ said Squanto. ‘Pilgrims?’ said Ocomo.”
Clyde Robert Bulla, Squanto, Friend of the Pilgrims
 
“1 little, 2 little, 3 little Pilgrims, 4 little, 5 little, 6 little Pilgrims,…
B.G. Hennessy, One Little, Two Little, Three Little Pilgrims
Fact: The Plimoth settlers did not refer to themselves as “Pilgrims.” Pilgrims are people who travel for religious reasons, such as Muslims who make a pilgrimage to Mecca. Most of those who arrived here from England were religious dissidents who had broken away from the Church of England. They called themselves “Saints”; others called them “Separatists.” Some of the settlers were “Puritans,” dissidents but not separatists who wanted to “purify” the Church. (1)
 
••••
 
Myth #3: The colonists came seeking freedom of religion in a new land.
 
“The Pilgrims wanted their own religion….So the Pilgrims decided to leave England.”
Linda Hayward, The First Thanksgiving
 
“The Pilgrims had left England because King James did not want them to practice their own religion. They were in search of a new home.”
Garnet Jackson, The First Thanksgiving
 
“They left their old country because they could not pray the way they wanted.”
Ann McGovern, The Pilgrims’ First Thanksgiving
 
The Pilgrims wanted to worship God in their own way...”
Gail Gibbons, Thanksgiving Day
 
‘They are people who want to have their own church and be free,’ said Squanto. ‘I heard of them in London.’”
Clyde Robert Bulla, Squanto, Friend of the Pilgrims
 
Fact: The colonists were not just innocent refugees from religious persecution. By 1620, hundreds of Native people had already been to England and back, most as captives; so the Plimoth colonists knew full well that the land they were settling on was inhabited. Nevertheless, their belief system taught them that any land that was “unimproved” was “wild” and theirs for the taking; that the people who lived there were roving heathens with no right to the land. Both the Separatists and Puritans were rigid fundamentalists who came here fully intending to take the land away from its Native inhabitants and establish a new nation, their “Holy Kingdom.” The Plimoth colonists were never concerned with “freedom of religion” for anyone but themselves. In a Thanksgiving sermon delivered at Plimoth in 1623, Cotton Mather or “Mather the Elder” praised God for the smallpox epidemic that that wiped out the majority of the Wampanoag people who had been their benefactors. He gave thanks for the destruction of “chiefly young men and children, the very seeds of increase, thus clearing the forests to make way for better growth,” i.e., the colonists. It wasn’t until around the time of the American Revolution that the name “Pilgrims” came to be associated with the Plimoth settlers, and the “Pilgrims” became the symbol of American morality and Christian faith, fortitude, and family. (2)
 
••••
 
Myth #4: When the “Pilgrims” landed, they first stepped foot on “Plymouth Rock.”
 
“The Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock.”
Kathy Ross, Crafts for Thanksgiving
 
“On December 11, 1620, the Pilgrim men landed on Plymouth Harbor beach, jumped into the icy waves and, fighting the sea and wind, secured the shallop to Plymouth Harbour’s glacial rock.”
Jean Craighead George, The First Thanksgiving
 
“The old story says that when the Pilgrims first came ashore, they stepped on a big rock—Plymouth Rock.”
Judy Donnelly, The Pilgrims and Me
 
“Sarah told how all the Pilgrims were thankful when they finally reached land. They named a big rock Plymouth Rock, after the place they came from in England.”
Anne Rockwell, Thanksgiving Day
 
“Here a brook flows into the harbor. A big rock marks the landing. They will call this place New Plymouth.”
Linda Hayward, The First Thanksgiving
 
“This is the harbor, marked by a huge stone where first steps were taken to chart the unknown,…”
Rhonda Gowler Greene, The Very First Thanksgiving Day
 
“The Pilgrims came/To Plymouth Rock/One snowy, cold December...”
Nan Roloff, The First American
Thanksgiving
 
“On top of the gravel the glacier deposited huge boulders it had carried from distant places. One settled in Plymouth Harbor….A wandering pilgrim, it left its home in Africa two hundred million years ago….Eons later, battered by glaciers, all 200 tons of it came to rest in lonely splendor, on a sandy beach in a cove. This boulder is Plymouth Rock….Yet to Americans, Plymouth Rock is a symbol. It is larger than the mountains, wider than the prairies and stronger than all our rivers. It is the rock on which our nation began.”
Jean Craighead George, The First Thanksgiving
 
"Whether the Pilgrims really stepped ashore onto this particular rock is open to question. But perhaps that is unimportant. Plymouth Rock is a symbol—a symbol of faith and hope and of something to be relied on. As such, it might be called a symbol of the Pilgrims themselves, the brave men, women, and children who worked together to found Plymouth."
Edna Barth, Turkeys, Pilgrims, and Indian Corn: A Story of the Thanksgiving Symbols
 
Fact: When the colonists landed, they sought out a sandy inlet in which to beach the little shallop that carried them from the Mayflower to the mainland. This shallop would have been smashed to smithereens had they docked at a rock, especially a Rock. Although the Plimoth settlers built their homes just up the hill from the Rock, William Bradford in Mourt’s Relation: A Journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth, does not even mention the Rock; writing only that they “unshipped our shallop and drew her on land.” (3) The actual “rock” is a slab of Dedham granodiorite placed there by a receding glacier some 20,000 years ago. It was first referred to in a town surveying record in 1715, almost 100 years after the landing. Since then, the Rock has been moved, cracked in two, pasted together, carved up, chipped apart by tourists, cracked again, and now rests as a memorial to something that never happened. (4)
 
It’s quite possible that the myth about the “Pilgrims” landing on a “Rock” originated as a reference to the New Testament of the Christian bible, in which Jesus says to Peter, “And I say also unto thee, Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church and the Gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18) The appeal to these scriptures gives credence to the sanctity of colonization and the divine destiny of the dominant culture. Admittedly, the colonists were not dominant then, but they behaved as though they were.
 
••••
 
Myth #5: The Pilgrims found corn.
 
“During their first hard year in America, the Pilgrims found corn buried in the sand of Cape Cod. The corn had been stored there by Native Americans. This important find gave the Pilgrims seeds to plant—and these became the seeds for survival.”
Judith Stamper, Thanksgiving Fun Activity Book
 
“On their way back they found Indian graves and some Indian corn.”
Edna Barth, Turkeys, Pilgrims, and Indian Corn: The Story of the Thanksgiving Symbols.
 
“The men dug down into [a hill of sand] and—there was a little old basket filled with corn! Now they had corn to plant. They found other baskets. These were big baskets, and it took two men to carry one. They filled their pockets with corn.
Alice Dalgliesh, The Thanksgiving Story
 
“The men keep exploring. They find wonderful things—corn, baskets, a spring.”
Linda Hayward, The First Thanksgiving
 
“Governor Carver meted out five kernels of Indian corn to each person once a day. The scouts had found the corn stored in reed baskets in the sand of Cape Cod.”
Jean Craighead George, The First Thanksgiving
 
“The Pilgrims showed Massasoit some fine baskets they had found in the village. The baskets were full of seed corn.”
Kate Jassem, Squanto: The Pilgrim Adventure. Troll Communications (1979)
 
 
Fact: Just a few days after landing, a party of about 16 settlers led by Captain Myles Standish followed a Nauset trail and came upon an iron kettle and a cache of Indian corn buried in the sand. They made off with the corn and returned a few days later with reinforcements. This larger group “found” a larger store of corn, about ten bushels, and took it. They also “found” several graves, and, according to Mourt’s Relation, “brought sundry of the prettiest things away” from a child’s grave and then covered up the corpse. They also “found” two Indian dwellings and “some of the best things we took away with us.” (5) There is no record that restitution was ever made for the stolen corn, and the Wampanoag did not soon forget the colonists’ ransacking of Indian graves, including that of Massasoit’s mother. (6)
 
••••
 
Myth #6: Samoset appeared out of nowhere, and along with Squanto became friends with the Pilgrims. Squanto helped the Pilgrims survive and joined them at “The First Thanksgiving.”
 
“When Spring came, two men named Squanto and Samoset appeared and made friends with the surviving Pilgrims.”
                                                            Robert Merrill Bartlett, The Story of                                        Thanksgiving
 
 “One day, three Native Americans came to visit. One named Squanto stayed to help the Pilgrims.”
Nancy J. Skarmeas, The Story of Thanksgiving
 
“Squanto liked the Pilgrims. He could see that they needed help. He helped the Pilgrims make friends with the other Indians.”
Teresa Celsi, Squanto and the First Thanksgiving
 
“A tall Indian was walking into Plymouth. ‘Welcome, Englishmen,’ he said. …He carried a bow and two arrows. His black hair hung long in back. The Indian called himself Samoset….He was eager to talk to the Pilgrims….The Pilgrims were glad to have Samoset as a friend.”
Judith Bauer Stamper, New Friends in a New Land
 
"Squanto was the Pilgrims’ teacher and friend. He helped save their lives and made sure their little settlement survived in the rocky New England soil. By saving the Pilgrims, Squanto became one of our first American heroes."
Deborah Fink, It's a Family Thanksgiving!
 
 “An Indian named Squanto turned out to be a special friend. He taught the Pilgrims many things…”
Katherine Ross, The Story of the Pilgrims
 
“Then one day an Indian walks right into the settlement. The children are terrified. But the Indian smiles and says, ‘Welcome.’ His name is Samoset. He speaks English! He learned it from sea captains….Samoset comes back with an Indan named Squanto. Squanto speaks even better English! He likes the Pilgrims and he decides to live with them. He shows them how to survive in the wilderness…”
Linda Hayward, The First Thanksgiving
 
"I must have been quite a shock one March day when all of a sudden a Native American walked right into the Pilgrims' little village. The Pilgrims must have been even more amazed when he started speaking English! His name was Samoset and he was a member of the Wampanoag tribe."
Deborah Fink, It's a Family Thanksgiving!
 
“Squanto spoke really good English. He had even been to England. Squanto had no family, so he acted as though the Pilgrims were his family. He liked them so much he came to live at Plymouth.”
Judith Donnelly, The Pilgrims and Me
 
“Squanto had been to England with some sailors. He could talk English. Squanto lived with the Pilgrims. Squanto was a good friend. He showed the Pilgrims…”
Lou Rogers, The First Thanksgiving
 
“One Indian decided to stay with the Pilgrims. He spoke English. His name was Squanto….The Pilgrims praised God for sending Squanto to them.”
Elaine Raphael and Don Bolognese, The Story of the First Thanksgiving
 
"Squanto decided to stay in Plymouth and help the Pilgrims. He became their guide and translator, and he showed them how to catch fish and find food. The Pilgrims called their new friend ‘a special instrument sent of God.’”
Anne Kamma, If you Were At… The First Thanksgiving
 
“One day, a kind Indian came to the Pilgrims’ village. He like the Pilgrims and wanted to help them. Soon, more Indians came. They were nice and showed the Pilgrims how to….”
Pat Whitehead, Best Thanksgiving Book: ABC Adventures
 
“The Pilgrims made a good friend who helped them. His name was Squanto. Squanto was one of the people who had lived near Plymouth years before the white men came. He taught the Pilgrims everything about the land he knew so well.”
Ann McGovern, The Pilgrims’ First Thanksgiving
 
"One day an Indian walked right into town and said, ‘Welcome.’…This Indian was friendly and he spoke English! The Pilgrims gave him presents, and he came back with more Indians. One was named Squanto."
Judy Donnelly, The Pilgrims and Me
 
“Later [Samoset] brought another Indian named Squanto, who spoke better English, because he had been taken to England on a ship.”
Alice Dalgliesh, The Thanksgiving Story
 
“The sole survivor of the Pawtuxet tribe of the Plymouth area, Squanto had spent several years in England and could speak the language.”
Edna Barth, Turkeys, Pilgrims, and Indian Corn: The Story of the Thanksgiving Symbols
 
“Squanto was their special friend. He taught the Pilgrims many useful things, like…”
Janice Kinnealy, Let’s Celebrate Thanksgiving: A Book of Drawing Fun
 
Fact: Samoset, an eastern Abenaki chief, was the first to contact the Plimoth colonists. He was investigating the settlement to gather information and report to Massasoit, the head sachem in the Wampanoag territory. In his hand, Samoset carried two arrows: one blunt and one pointed. The question to the settlers was: are you friend or foe? Samoset brought Tisquantum (Squanto), one of the few survivors of the original Wampanoag village of Pawtuxet, to meet the English and keep an eye on them. Tisquantum had been taken captive by English captains several years earlier, and both he and Samoset spoke English. Tisquantum agreed to live among the colonists and serve as a translator. Massasoit also sent Hobbamock and his family to live near the colony to keep an eye on the settlement and also to watch Tisquantum, whom Massasoit did not trust. The Wampanoag oral tradition says that Massasoit ordered Tisquantum killed after he tried to stir up the English against the Wampanoag. Massasoit himself lost face after his years of dealing with the English only led to warfare and land grabs. Tisquantum is viewed by Wampanoag people as a traitor, for his scheming against other Native people for his own gain. Massasoit is viewed as a wise and generous leader whose affection for the English may have led him to be too tolerant of their ways. (7)
 
••••
Myth #7: The Pilgrims invited the Indians to celebrate the First Thanksgiving.
 
“A company of men had been sent to the Indian village with the invitation to the feast.”
Cheryl Harness, Three Young Pilgrims
 
“The Pilgrims invited Native Americans to the first Thanksgiving.”
David F. Marx, Thanksgiving
 
 “The Pilgrims invited their Native American friends to a great feast.”
Nancy J. Skarmeas, The Story of Thanksgiving
 
“The new governor, William Bradford, asked Squanto to invite Massasoit and a few friends to a feast.”
Jean Craighead George, The First Thanksgiving
 
“There was a lot to be thankful for, so they decided to have a big feast and invite Massasoit. They asked him to bring some friends.”
Judy Donnelly, The Pilgrims and Me
 
“’Join us,’ they said to the Indians. Join us in a big feast of Thanksgiving. It will be a very special holiday.’”
Pat Whitehead, Best Thanksgiving Book, ABC Adventures
 
“The harvest was/So plentiful/The Pilgrims were delighted—/They prepared to have/A giant feast,/And the Indians were invited.”
Nan Roloff, The First American Thanksgiving
 
“The Pilgrims especially wanted to thank the Indians for the help they had given them. So they asked them to come to their Thanksgiving celebration.”
Margot Parker, What Is Thanksgiving Day?
 
“The people said,… “We will have a feast and invite our Indian friends.”
Lou Rogers, The First Thanksgiving
 
“The Pilgrims decided to have...a party. They invited the Wampanoag to join them.”
Mir Tamim Ansary, Thanksgiving Day
“To celebrate, the Pilgrims decided to have a big party—a harvest festival. And they invited their new Indian friends to join them.”
Anne Kamma, If You Were At…The First Thanksgiving
 
“They decided to have a Thanksgiving feast. The Pilgrims invited their Indian friends.”
Gail Gibbons, Thanksgiving Day
 
“We invited the Indians to a Thanksgiving feast.”
William Accorsi, Friendship’s First Thanksgiving
 
 
Fact: According to oral accounts from the Wampanoag people, when the Native people nearby first heard the gunshots of the hunting colonists, they thought that the colonists were preparing for war and that Massasoit needed to be informed. When Massasoit showed up with 90 men and no women or children, it can be assumed that he was being cautious. When he saw there was a party going on, his men then went out and brought back five deer and lots of turkeys. (8)
 
In addition, both the Wampanoag and the English settlers were long familiar with harvest celebrations. Long before the Europeans set foot on these shores, Native peoples gave thanks every day for all the gifts of life, and held thanksgiving celebrations and giveaways at certain times of the year. The Europeans also had days of thanksgiving, marked by religious services. So the coming together of two peoples to share food and company was not entirely a foreign thing for either. But the visit that by all accounts lasted three days was most likely one of a series of political meetings to discuss and secure a military alliance. Neither side totally trusted the other: The Europeans considered the Wampanoag soulless heathens and instruments of the devil, and the Wampanoag had seen the Europeans steal their seed corn and rob their graves. In any event, neither the Wampanoag nor the Europeans referred to this feast/meeting as “Thanksgiving.” (9)
 
••••
 
Myth #8: The Pilgrims provided the food for their Indian friends.
 
“The Wampanoag smoked their pipes, tasted English cooking, and presented a dance to the Pilgrims.”
Judith Stamper, Thanksgiving Fun Activity Book
 
“The pilgrims hunted wild turkeys. They picked fruits and berries. When there was enough food, they all had a feast.”
Karen Gray Ruelle, The Thanksgiving Beast Feast
 
“They knew they could never have survived without the Indians, so the Pilgrims invited the Indians to join them in a feast.”
Katherine Ross, The Story of the Pilgrims
 
The twelve women of New Plymouth began great preparations. From the kitchens came the savory smell of roasting geese and turkey. An abundance of corn bread and hasty pudding was being prepared. Stewed eels, boiled lobsters, and juicy clam stews simmered over the fires. Before the feast, Squanto was sent with an invitation to Massasoit and his chiefs....The Indians were in no hurry to go home as long as the food held out, and the holiday-making carried on for three days.
James Daugherty, The Landing of the Pilgrims
 
 
Fact: It is known that when Massasoit showed up with 90 men and saw there was a party going on, they then went out and brought back five deer and lots of turkeys. Though the details of this event have become clouded in secular mythology, judging by the inability of the settlers to provide for themselves at this time and Edward Winslow’s letter of 1622 (10), it is most likely that Massasoit and his people provided most of the food for this “historic” meal. (11)
 
••••
 
Myth #9: The Pilgrims and Indians feasted on turkey, potatoes, berries, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, and popcorn.
 
“…[T]he corn and sweet berries, the wild turkey dressed….”
Rhonda Gowler Greene, The Very First Thanksgiving Day
 
“Pilgrim women also invented many ways to sweeten the bitter berries for food. The most popular recipe passed down from them is cranberry sauce.”
Judith Stamper, Thanksgiving Fun Activity Book
 
“[Squanto] even showed [the Pilgrims] how to make [corn] pop for a tasty treat called ‘popcorn.’…There were all kinds of wonderful foods to eat: turkey, squash, corn, clams, pumpkin, and more.”
Janice Kinnealy, Let’s Celebrate Thanksgiving, A Book of Drawing Fun
 
We do know the meal included deer, oysters, boiled pumpkin, corn, and cranberries.”
David F. Marx, Thanksgiving
 
There were meat pies, wheat breads, and corn puddings. There were berries, grapes, dried plums, and nuts.
Garnet Jackson, The First Thanksgiving
 
“There was also cod and bass. Lobsters boiled in big iron pots. Oysters and clams roasted in the coals. The women made cornmeal cakes and biscuits of course wheat flour. There were salads of watercress and leeks. And there were squash, pumpkins and dried berries.“
                                                            Robert Merrill Bartlett, The Story of                                        Thanksgiving
 
“The Pilgrims collected fish, lobsters, oysters, and clams from the shore. There were carrots, onions, beans, berries, and dried fruit.”
                                                            Robert Merrill Bartlett, The Story of                                        Thanksgiving
 
“Many tables are filled with the same foods the Pilgrims and Indians shared. There is cranberry sauce and a big turkey stuffed with breadcrumbs, herbs, and nuts. Also there are sweet potatoes, beans, squash, and cornbread. Sometimes there is a tasty pumpkin pie for dessert.”
Gail Gibbons, Thanksgiving Day
 
“He sent men out to shoot turkeys and ducks. The women baked. … Massasoit arrived the day of the feast with five deer and many turkeys. With him were not just a few guests, as expected, but ninety. For a moment the cooks were shocked. Then they recovered and quickly went to work. More bread was baked, more vegetables were cooked, more turkeys were stuffed with bread and cranberries.”
Jean Craighead George, The First Thanksgiving
 
“They had prepared several kinds of meat and fish, corn and pumpkin dishes, cranberries, and more. Still, there was not going to be enough food for so many. When the chief saw that more food would be needed,,.he sent some of his men out. They returned with five deer, turkeys, corn, squash, beans and berries. It was a true potluck dinner!”
Deborah Fink, It’s a Family Thanksgiving!
 
“Everyone eats so much—turkey, lobster, goose, deer meat, onions, pumpkin, corn bread, berries.”
Linda Hayward, The First Thanksgiving
 
 “Fat geese and wild turkeys roasted slowly over the fire. Pies and corn bread baked in the outdoor ovens.”
Elaine Raphael and Don Bolognese, The Story of the First Thanksgiving
 
“Turkey, cornbread, cranberry stuffing,/Pumpkin, cider, Indian pudding./Clams and oysters—tummies growling.”
B.G. Hennessy, One Little, Two Little, Three Little Pilgrims
B.G.
"[American Indians] showed [the Pilgrims] how to make popcorn.”
Karen Gray Ruelle, The Thanksgiving Beast Feast
 
“From the gardens they gathered cucumbers, carrots and cabbages, turnips and radishes, onions and beets. Corn was cooked in many ways. There was popcorn, too! There were wild fruits for dessert. Thanksgiving was a time for eating and for sharing.”
Ann McGovern, The Pilgrims’ First Thanksgiving
 
“There was enough good food for everybody. They had deer, turkeys, geese, ducks, fish, and clams. They had corn, beans, squash, pumpkins, plums, grapes, nuts, cranberries, and corn cakes.”
Lou Rogers, The First Thanksgiving
 
“The Pilgrims baked and baked. They made good things to eat. The Pilgrims went to the lake for fish and to the hills for turkeys. They all made food for the big feast.”
Teresa Celsi, Squanto and the First Thanksgiving
 
“There was eel and cod and lobster and quahogs and mussels and wild turkey and cranberries and succotash and berry pies.”
Eric Metaxas, Squanto and the First Thanksgiving
 
“They ate stewed eels. They ate cod and sea bass, their favorite fish.”
Anne Kamma, If You Were At…The First Thanksgiving
 
 
 
Fact: Both written and oral evidence show that what was actually consumed at the harvest festival in 1621 included venison (since Massasoit and his people brought five deer), wild fowl, and quite possibly nasaump—dried corn pounded and boiled into a thick porridge, and pompion—cooked, mashed pumpkin. Among the other food that would have been available, fresh fruits such as plums, grapes, berries and melons would have been out of season. It would have been too cold to dig for clams or fish for eels or small fish. There were no boats to fish for lobsters in rough water that was about 60 fathoms deep. There was not enough of the barley crop to make a batch of beer, nor was there a wheat crop. Potatoes and sweet potatoes didn’t get from the south up to New England until the 18th century, nor did sweet corn. Cranberries would have been too tart to eat without sugar to sweeten them, and that’s probably why they wouldn’t have had pumpkin pie, either. Since the corn of the time could not be successfully popped, there was no popcorn. (12)
 
••••
 
Myth #10: The Pilgrims and Indians became great friends.
 
“The Indians and Pilgrims agreed to live in Peace. Together they hunted quail and turkey.”
Pat Whitehead, Best Thanksgiving Book, ABC Adventures
 
“Then in friendship/And goodwill,/The braves and Pilgrims parted./And that’s how/The tradition/Of Thanksgiving Day got started!”
Nan Roloff, The First American Thanksgiving
 
“The Pilgrims lived in peace with their Indian neighbors.”
Janice Kinnealy, Let’s Celebrate Thanksgiving, A Book of Drawing Fun
 
“They had food and houses and warm fires. The Indians were their friends. They were free in this new land.”
Alice Dalgliesh, The Thanksgiving Story
 
“How thankful they are! They have food, and shelter, and new friends, the Indians. The Pilgrims decide to invite the Indians to a thanksgiving feast.”
Linda Hayward, The First Thanksgiving
 
“The Pilgrims knew it was time to give thanks to God and their Indian friends. They decided to have a harvest feast.”
Judith Bauer Stamper, New Friends in a New Land
 
“All of the Pilgrims took part. So did their Indian friends.”
Ann McGovern, The Pilgrims’ First Thanksgiving
 
“12 tables groaning/beneath a harvest spread—/Wampanoag and Pilgrim friends/together will break bread./Joined  under one sky/with one prayer to say—/a prayer of thanks for all they have/this first Thanksgiving Day.”
Laura Krauss Melmed, This First Thanksgiving Day: A Counting Story
 
“Together the Pilgrims and Indians lived in peace and grew in friendship.”
Elaine Raphael and Don Bolognese, The Story of the First Thanksgiving
 
 
Fact: A mere generation later, the balance of power had shifted so enormously and the theft of land by the European settlers had become so egregious that the Wampanoag were forced into battle. In 1637, English soldiers massacred some 700 Pequot men, women and children at Mystic Fort, burning many of them alive in their homes and shooting those who fled. The colony of Connecticut and Massachusetts Bay Colony observed a day of thanksgiving commemorating the massacre.  By 1675, there were some 50,000 colonists in the place they had named “New England.” That year, Metacom, a son of Massasoit, one of the first whose generosity had saved the lives of the starving settlers, led a rebellion against them. By the end of the conflict known as “King Philip’s War,” most of the Indian peoples of the Northeast region had been either completely wiped out, sold into slavery, or had fled for safety into Canada. Shortly after Metacom’s death, Plimoth Colony declared a day of thanksgiving for the English victory over the Indians. (13)
 
••••
 
 
Myth #11: Thanksgiving is a happy time.
 
“Today, Thanksgiving is a happy time when families gather together.”
                                                            Robert Merrill Bartlett, The Story of                                        Thanksgiving
 
“It’s a time to remember the Pilgrims and their first Thanksgiving.”
Janice Kinnealy, Let’s Celebrate Thanksgiving, A Book of Drawing Fun
 
“On Thanksgiving families are thankful for being together to share a special meal.”
                                                            Robert Merrill Bartlett, The Story of                                        Thanksgiving
 
“Thanksgiving is a special day. It’s a time for friends, family and lots of fun. It’s also a time for giving thanks—just as the Indians and Pilgrims did long ago on the first Thanksgiving.”
Judith Conaway, Happy Thanksgiving! Things to Make and Do 
 
“Thanksgiving has always been a holiday to share with those we love. We celebrate the joy of being together, and give thanks for our families and friends.”
Ronne Randall, Thanksgiving Fun: Fun Things to Make and Do
 
“Thanksgiving reminds us of the little band of people who founded the Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts. Each November it reopens a favorite chapter in our nation’s history.”
Edna Barth, Turkeys  Pilgrims, and Indian Corn: The Story of the Thanksgiving Symbols
 
“Today, families and friends gather together to celebrate Thanksgiving….No matter how Thanksgiving is celebrated, it is a time for families to feast together and think about all of the reasons they  have to give thanks.”
                                                            Robert Merrill Bartlett, The Story of                                        Thanksgiving
 
“On Thanksgiving Day, we join our families and friends for prayer, feasting, and fun.”
Judith Bauer Stamper, New Friends in a New Land: A Thanksgiving Story
J
“All over the country, people gather their families together and have a feast. They thank God for the good things of the past year. They eat turkey. They remember the brave Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving Day.”
Lou Rogers, The First Thanksgiving
 
“Today Thanksgiving is celebrated by families and friends enjoying a big Thanksgiving meal….Many families set aside some time to give thanks just as the Pilgrims and Native Americans did so many years ago.”
Kathy Ross, Crafts for Thanksgiving
 
“Thanksgiving is about more than a big meal. It is a chance to think about what is good in our lives. These are the things we can be thankful for.”
David F. Marx, Thanksgiving
 
“That was the first Thanksgiving! It’s a story we’ll never forget. It’s something we celebrate every year.”
Anne Rockwell, Thanksgiving Day
 
 
Fact: For many Indian people, “Thanksgiving” is a time of mourning, of remembering how a gift of generosity was rewarded by theft of land and seed corn, extermination of many from disease and gun, and near total destruction of many more from forced assimilation. As currently celebrated in this country, “Thanksgiving” is a bitter reminder of 500 years of betrayal returned for friendship.
 
 
(Note: We have based our “fact” sections in large part on the research, both published and unpublished, that Abenaki scholar Margaret M. Bruchac developed in collaboration with the Wampanoag Indian Program at Plimoth Plantation.  We thank Marge for her generosity and good heart. We thank Doris Seale (Santee/Cree) for her guidance and clear vision. We thank Lakota Harden (Lakota/Ho-Chunk) for her cante ista. —J.D. and B.S.)
 
References/“Books to Avoid”
Accorsi, William, Friendship’s First Thanksgiving. Holiday House, 1992, grades 1-2
Aliki, Corn is Maize: The Gift of the Indians. Harper & Row, 1976, grades 1-3
Anderson, Laurie Halse, Thank You, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving. Simon & Schuster, 2002, grades 1-4
Ansary, Mir Tamim, Thanksgiving Day. Heinemann, 2002, grades 1-3
Bartlett, Robert Merrill, The Story of Thanksgiving. HarperCollins, 2001, grades 3-5
Barth, Edna, Turkeys, Pilgrims, and Indian Corn: The Story of the Thanksgiving Symbols. Clarion, 1975, grades 2-4
Borden, Louise, Thanksgiving Is… Scholastic, 1997, grades 1-2
Brown, Marc, Arthur’s Thanksgiving. Little, Brown, 1983, grades 1-2
Bulla, Clyde Robert, Squanto, Friend of the Pilgrims. Scholastic, 1990
Celsi,Teresa, Squanto and the First Thanksgiving. Steck-Vaughn, 1989), grades 1-2
Clements, Andrew, Look Who’s in the Thanksgiving Play! Simon & Schuster, 1999, preschool-2
Conaway, Judith, Happy Thanksgiving! Things to Make and Do. Troll Communications, 1986, grades 1-3
Crane, Carol, and Helle Urban, P is for Pilgrim: A Thanksgiving Alphabet. Sleeping Bear Press, 2003, grades 1-4
Dalgliesh, Alice, The Thanksgiving Story. Scholastic, 1954, 1982, grades 3-4
Daugherty, James, The Landing of the Pilgrims. Random House, 1987, grades 4-6
DePaola, Tomie, My First Thanksgiving. Putnam, 1992, preschol
Donnelly, Judy, The Pilgrims and Me. Grossett & Dunlap, 2002
Dubowski, Cathy East, The Story of Squanto, First Friend to the Pilgrims. Dell, 1990, grades 3-4
Fink, Deborah, It’s a Family Thanksgiving! A Celebration of an American Tradition for Children and Their Families. Harmony Hearth, 2000
Flindt, Myron, Pilgrims: A simulation of the first year at Plymouth Colony. Interact, 1994, curriculum for grades 3-up
Fritz, Jean, Who’s That Stepping on Plymouth Rock? Putnam & Grossett, 1975, grades 3-5
George, Jean Craighead, The First Thanksgiving. Puffin, 1993
Gibbons, Gail, Thanksgiving Day. Holiday House, 1985
Greene, Rhonda Gowler, The Very First Thanksgiving Day. Atheneum, 2002
Hale, Anna W., The Mayflower People: Triumphs and Tragedies. Harbinger House, 1995
Hallinan, P.K., Today Is Thanksgiving! Ideals Children’s Books, 1993, grades 1-2
Harness, Cheryl, Three Young Pilgrims. Aladdin, 1995, grades 3-6
Hayward, Linda, The First Thanksgiving. Random House, 1990, grades 1-3
Hennessy, B.G., One Little, Two Little, Three Little Pilgrims. Viking, 1999, grades 1-2
Jackson, Garnet, The First Thanksgiving. Scholastic, 2000, grades 2-up
Jassem, Kate, Squanto: The Pilgrim Adventure. Troll Communications, 1979, grades 3-5
Kamma, Anne,  If you Were At… The First Thanksgiving. Scholastic, 2001
Kessel, Joyce K., Squanto and the First Thanksgiving. Carolrhoda, 1983, grades 3-5
Kinnealy, Janice, Let’s Celebrate Thanksgiving, A Book of Drawing Fun. Watermill, 1988, grades 1-2
Koller, Jackie French, Nickommoh!: A Thanksgiving Celebration. Atheneum, 1999, grades 2-4
Marx, David F., Thanksgiving. Children’s Press, 2000, grades 1-2
McGovern, Ann, The Pilgrims’ First Thanksgiving. Scholastic, 1973, grades 2-up
McMullan, Kate, Fluffy’s Thanksgiving. Scholastic, 1997, grades ps-2
Melmed, Laura Krauss, This First Thanksgiving Day: A Counting Story. HarperCollins, 2001
Metaxas, Eric, Squanto and the First Thanksgiving. Rabbit Ears Books, 1996, grades 1-3       
Ochoa, Ana, Sticker Stories: The Thanksgiving Play. Grosset & Dunlap, 2002, grades 1-2
Osborne, Mary Pope, Thanksgiving on Thursday. Random House, 2002, grades 3-5
Parker, Margot, What Is Thanksgiving Day? Children’s Press, 1988, grades 1-2
Prelutsky, Jack, It’s Thanksgiving. Morrow, 1982, preschool-2
Rader, Laura J., A Child’s Story of Thanksgiving. Ideals Children’s Books, 1998, grades 2-4
Randall, Ronnie, Thanksgiving Fun: Great Things to Make and Do. Kingfisher, 1994, grades 1-3
Raphael, Elaine, and Don Bolognese, The Story of the First Thanksgiving. Scholastic, 1991, grades 1-2
Rau, Dana Meachen, Thanksgiving. Children’s Press, 2000, grades 1-2
Roberts, Bethany, Thanksgiving Mice! Clarion, 2001, preschool-1
Rockwell, Anne, Thanksgiving Day. HarperCollins, 1999
Rogers, Lou, The First Thanksgiving. Modern Curriculum Press, 1962, grades 1-3
Roloff, Nan, The First American Thanksgiving. Current, 1980
Roop, Connie and Peter:
Let’s Celebrate Thanksgiving. Millbrook, 1999, grades 3-5
Pilgrim Voices: Our First Year in the New World. Walker, 1995, grades 3-5
Ross, Katherine, 1995, grades 1-3:
            Crafts for Thanksgiving. Millbrook
            The Story of the Pilgrims. Random House
Ruelle, Karen Gray, The Thanksgiving Beast Feast. Holiday House, 1999, grades 1-2
San Souci, Robert, N.C. Wyeth's Pilgrims. Chronicle, 1991, grades 1-3
Schultz, Charles M., A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. Simon & Schuster, 2002, grades 1-3
Sewall, Marcia, Atheneum, grades 1-3:
            People of the Breaking Day. Atheneum, 1990
            The People of Plimoth. Aladdin, 1986
            Thunder from the Clear Sky. Atheneum, 1995
Siegel, Beatrice, Walker, grades 3-5:
            Fur Trappers and Traders: The Indians, the Pilgrims, and the Beaver. 1981  
            Indians of the Northeast Woodlands. 1992
Skarmeas, Nancy J., The Story of Thanksgiving. Ideals Publications, 1999
Stamper, Judith Bauer:
            New Friends in a New Land: A Thanksgiving Story. Steck-Vaughn, 1993, grades 1-2   
            Thanksgiving Fun Activity Book. Troll, 1993, grades 1-4
Tryon, Leslie, Albert’s Thanksgiving. Aladdin, 1998, grades 1-3
Umnik, Sharon Dunn, ed., 175 Easy-to-Do Thanksgiving Crafts. Boyds Mills Press, 1996, grades 2-up
Waters, Kate, Giving Thanks: The 1621 Harvest Feast. Scholastic, 2001, grades 3-up
Weisgard, Leonard, The Plymouth Thanksgiving. Doubleday, 1967, grades 1-3
Whitehead, Pat, Best Thanksgiving Book, ABC Adventures. Troll Communications, 1985, grades 1-2
 
References/Recommended Books
Bruchac, Margaret M. (Abenaki), and Catherine Grace O’Neill, 1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society, 2001, grades 4-up
 
Hunter, Sally M. (Ojibwe), Four Seasons of Corn: A Winnebago Tradition. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications, 1997, grades 4-6.
 
Peters, Russell M. (Wampanoag), Clambake: A Wampanoag Tradition. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications, 1992, grades 4-6.
 
Regguinti, Gordon (Ojibwe), The Sacred Harvest: Ojibway Wild Rice Gathering. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications, 1992, grades 4-6.
 
Seale, Doris (Santee/Cree), Beverly Slapin, and Carolyn Silverman (Cherokee), eds., Thanksgiving: A Native Perspective. Berkeley: Oyate, 1998, teacher resource.
 
Swamp, Jake (Mohawk), Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message. New York: Lee & Low, 1995, all grades.
 
Wittstock, Laura Waterman (Seneca), Ininatig’s Gift of Sugar: Traditional Native Sugarmaking. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications, 1993, grades 4-6.
 
 
References/Primary Sources
Bradford, William, Of Plymouth Plantation, 1620-1647, originally published in 1856 under the title History of Plymouth Plantation. Introduction by Francis Murphy. New York: Random House, 1981.
 
Bradford, William, Mourt’s Relation: A Journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth, first published in 1622. Introduction by Dwight B. Heath. Bedford, Mass.: Applewood Books, 1963.
 
Council on Interracial Books for Children, Chronicles of American Indian Protest. New York: CIBC, 19 71,
 
 Winslow, Edward, Good Newes from New England: A True Relation of Things Very Remarkable at the Plantation of Plimoth in New England, first published in 1624. Bedford, Mass.: Applewood Books, n.d.
 
Notes
(1) Correspondence with Abenaki scholar Margaret M. Bruchac. See also Plimoth Plantation, “A Key to Historical and Museum Terms,” www.plimoth.org/education/field_trips/ft-terms.htm; “Who Were the Pilgrims?” www.plimoth.org/library/whowere.htm; and Chuck Larsen, “There Are Many Thanksgiving Stories to Tell,” in Thanksgiving: A Native Perspective, p. 50. Also see Council on Interracial Books for Children, Chronicles of American Indian Protest, pp. 6-10.
 
(2) See Note 1.
 
(3) See William Bradford’s Mourt’s Relation: A Journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth, p. 19.
 
(4) Conversation with Douglas Frink, Archaeology Consulting Team, Inc. See also Plimoth Plantation, “The Adventures of Plimoth Rock,” www.plimoth.org/library/plymrock.htm.
 
(5) See William Bradford’s Mourt’s Relation: A Journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth, p. 28.
 
(6) Correspondence with Margaret M. Bruchac. See also “The Saints Come Sailing In,” in Dorothy W. Davids and Ruth A. Gudinas, “Thanksgiving: A New Perspective (and its Implications in the Classroom)” in Thanksgiving: A Native Perspective, pp. 70-71.
 
(7) Correspondence with Margaret M. Bruchac about the relationship Samoset, Tisquantum, Hobbamock, and Massasoit. See also Margaret M. Bruchac and Catherine O’Neill Grace, 1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving.
 
(8) See Margaret M. Bruchac and Catherine O’Neill Grace, ibid.
 
(9) For a description of how the European settlers regarded the Wampanoag, as well as evidence of their theft of seed corn and funerary objects, see Mourt’s Relation. See also Margaret M. Bruchac and Catherine O’Neill Grace, ibid.
 
(10) See Edward Winslow, Good Newes from New England: A True Relation of Things Very Remarkable at the Plantation of Plimoth in New England.
 
(11) See Duane Champagne, Native America: Portrait of the Peoples. Detroit: Visible Ink (1994), pp. 81-82; and Chuck Larsen, op. cit., p. 51.
 
(12) See Plimoth Plantation, “No Popcorn!,” www.plimoth.org/library/thanksgiving/nopopc.htm, and “A First Thanksgiving Dinner for Today,” www.plimoth.org/library/thanksgiving/afirst.htm. See also Margaret M. Bruchac and Catherine O’Neill Grace, op. cit.
 
(13) See “King Philip Cries Out for Revenge,” pp. 43-45; and “There Are Many Thanksgiving Stories to Tell,” pp. 49-52, in Thanksgiving: A Native Perspective. See also Margaret M. Bruchac and Catherine O’Neill Grace, op. cit.
 
Copyright © 2003 by Judy Dow and Beverly Slapin. All rights reserved. This material may be reproduced for classroom use only.
 
 

 

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Native News Network

Rethinking Thanksgiving

THE NATIONAL DAY OF MOURNING
http://www.pilgrimhall.org/daymourn.htm
 
On Thanksgiving Day, many Native Americans and their supporters gather at the top of Coles Hill, overlooking Plymouth Rock, for the "National Day of Mourning."
 
The first National Day of Mourning was held in 1970. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts invited Wampanoag leader Frank James to deliver a speech. When the text of Mr. James’ speech, a powerful statement of anger at the history of oppression of the Native people of America, became known before the event, the Commonwealth "disinvited" him. That silencing of a strong and honest Native voice led to the convening of the National Day of Mourning.
 
The historical event we know today as the "First Thanksgiving" was a harvest festival held in 1621 by the Pilgrims and their Native American neighbors and allies. It has acquired significance beyond the bare historical facts. Thanksgiving has become a much broader symbol of the entirety of the American experience. Many find this a cause for rejoicing. The dissenting view of Native Americans, who have suffered the theft of their lands and the destruction of their traditional way of life at the hands of the American nation, is equally valid.
 
To some, the "First Thanksgiving" presents a distorted picture of the history of relations between the European colonists and their descendants and the Native People. The total emphasis is placed on the respect that existed between the Wampanoags led by the sachem Massasoit and the first generation of Pilgrims in Plymouth, while the long history of subsequent violence and discrimination suffered by Native People across America is nowhere represented.
 
To others, the event shines forth as an example of the respect that was possible once, if only for the brief span of a single generation in a single place, between two different cultures and as a vision of what may again be possible someday among people of goodwill.
 
History is not a set of "truths" to be memorized, history is an ongoing process of interpretation and learning. The true richness and depth of history come from multiplicity and complexity, from debate and disagreement and dialogue. There is room for more than one history; there is room for many voices.
 
COMMENTS ON THE DAY OF MOURNING
 BY RUSSELL M. PETERS
 
Russell Peters is Wampanoag, born and raised in Mashpee, less than twenty miles from Plymouth Rock. Mashpee was considered an Indian community and was, in fact, an Indian District within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, until it was illegally dissolved in 1870.
 
Mr. Peters has been involved in Native American issues at a state, local and national level. He is the President of the Mashpee Wampanoag Indian Tribal Council, a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights from 1976 to 1984, a member of the Harvard Peabody Museum Native American Repatriation Committee, a member of the White House Conference on Federal Recognition in 1995 and 1996, a board member of the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities, a board member of the Pilgrim Society, and the author of Wampanoags of Mashpee (Nimrod Press), Clambake (Lerner Publications), and Regalia (Sundance Press).
 
Mr. Peters’ notes that the Mashpee Wampanoag Indian Tribal Council is constantly working to improve the spiritual and material lives of their people. They are not opposed to demonstrations but are opposed to needless confrontations that serve no purpose for the Native American people they purport to serve.
 
"When Frank James, known to the Wampanoag people as Wampsutta, was invited to speak at the 1970 annual Thanksgiving feast at Plymouth, he was not prepared to have his speech revised by the Pilgrims. He left the dinner and the ceremonies and went to the hill near the statue of the Massasoit, who as the leader of the Wampanoags when the Pilgrims landed in their territory. There overlooking Plymouth Harbor, he looked at the replica of the Mayflower. It was there that he gave his speech that was to be given to the Pilgrims and their guests. There eight or ten Indians and their supporters listened in indignation as Frank talked of the takeover of the Wampanoag tradition, culture, religion, and land.
 
"This was a missed opportunity to begin a dialogue between the Wampanoags and the Pilgrims. Instead the `Day of Mourning’ began, and continues to this day. I commend Frank for taking the stand that he took, and we and our supporters recognize the token role the Wampanoags had played in this pageantry. It was not appropriate for the native people to feast in thanksgiving; instead we decided to fast and show by contrast our way of remembering our history.
 
"As the years went by, the numbers at the Massasoit statue increased and the presentations, skits and demonstrations did indeed show a contrast between feasting and fasting. Reporters arrived from local news media as well as the New York papers, the Atlanta Constitution, the Chicago Tribune, and the Los Angeles Times, and told the stories of the Wampanoag to the American people.
 
"Some of the Wampanoag people who live in the vicinity of Plymouth began to look at positive ways in which we could impact our lives, both past and present. It occurred to us that the Europeans had a history of the colonists, well documented, albeit quite Eurocentric. The history of the Wampanoag people in southeastern Massachusetts and Martha’s Vineyard was barely mentioned. Ironically, the Indian communities of Mashpee, Aquinnah (Gay Head) and Herring Pond still exist just a short distance away from the Plymouth Rock.
 
"The Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head is a Federally Recognized Indian Tribe. Their Tribal roll lists 1000 Wampanoags. Under the leadership of their chief, the tribe conducts daily business, economic development, as well as community and social activities for its tribal members. The Mashpee Wampanoag Indian Tribal Council, of which I am President, has a tribal roll of 1200 Wampanoags. It conducts business and other related activities on a daily basis. Our annual Pow Wow took place in Mashpee on July 3, 4 and 5, 1998. We own and maintain the Mashpee Wampanoag Indian Museum with plans to expand the facilities. We are very active in revitalization of our language which was taken from us by the colonists. And we are doing research and writing of the Wampanoag history, particularly concerning the relationship with the English and other European colonists during the early seventeenth century up to the present.
 
"These are some of the positive ways in which we can balance the scale of history and establish pride in the Wampanoag identity and heritage. Ours is as much a part of the American story as that of the Pilgrim, in fact more so since it was our land.
 
"While the `Day of Mourning’ has served to focus attention on past injustice to the Native American cause, it has, in recent years, been orchestrated by a group calling themselves the United American Indians of New England. This group has tenuous ties to any of the local tribes, and is composed primarily of non-Indians. To date, they have refused several invitations to meet with the Wampanoag Indian tribal councils in Mashpee or in Gay Head. Once again, we, as Wampanoags, find our voices and concerns cast aside in the activities surrounding the Thanksgiving holiday in Plymouth, this time, ironically, by a group purporting to represent our interests.
 
"The time is long overdue for the Pilgrims and the Wampanoags to renew a meaningful dialogue about our past and look towards a more honest future. Our history is a vital and dynamic part of pre-American and American history. We must be the ones who research, write, and interpret that history."
 
Fast and Thanksgiving Days
of Plymouth Colony
 
by Carolyn Freeman Travers, Research Manager
 
The Separatists who founded Plymouth Colony observed three holy days; the weekly Sabbath, the Day of Humiliation and Fasting, and the Day of Thanksgiving and Praise. The latter two were held for special circumstances. A series of misfortunes meant that God was displeased, and the people should both search for the cause(s) and humble themselves before him. Good fortune, on the other hand, was a sign of God’s mercy and compassion, and therefore he should be thanked and praised. Over time, with the influx of new colonists and new faiths, as well as the political changes in England and New England, the holiday changed, becoming more secular. By the end of the century, the colonial government established a cycle of annual spring Fast Days and autumn Thanksgivings.
 
Early fast days and thanksgiving days were similar in many respects. They were called by either church or civil officials or the two working together. Occasionally, officials reacted to one overwhelming situation, such as an epidemic. More frequently, there were a number of reasons. For example, causes for a 1641 Day of Humiliation in the Barnstable church were: “In regard of the wett & very cold Spring, as also for the quelling of Strange & heretical tenets raised principally by the Ffamilists, as also for the healing of the bloodye Coffe amonge children especially at Plimouth.”1 A 1685 Day of Thanksgiving in the Plymouth church was held for “continuance of spirituall & civill liberties, a good harvest notwithstanding a threatening drought, & for health.”2 In the minds of the Plymouth colonists, that mixture of events were all traceable to one source – God – and his relationship with the community. Relief from misfortune would come (they hoped) after reconciliation with God through fasting, prayer and repentance. Fortunate events required public expression of gratitude with praise and thanksgiving.
 
The first Day of Humiliation for the Plymouth colonists actually occurred before the Separatist congregation left the Netherlands. As described in Bradford’s history, “So being ready to depart, they had a day of solemn humiliation, their pastor taking his text from Ezra viii.21: ‘And there by the river, by Ahava, I proclaimed a fast, that we might humble ourselves before our God, and seek of him a right way for us, and for our children, and for all our substance.’ Upon which he spent a good part of the day very profitably and suitable to our present occasion, the rest of the time was spent in pouring out our prayers to the Lord with great fervency, and with abundance of tears.”3 This type of fast day was not a response to misfortune, but an appeal for God’s aid at the beginning of a new enterprise. Later colonial churches would call these fast days when choosing new officers and creating or renewing their covenant.
 
While the harvest celebration held in Plymouth Colony in 1621 has been mistakenly referred to as the “First Thanksgiving” since the 1800s, the first Thanksgiving Day as the Separatists understood it occurred in 1623. As with many later New England Days of Thanksgiving, it followed a Day of Humiliation. The events of that summer, described in colonist Edward Winslow’s Good Newes from New England, show clearly how the Separatists saw their relationship with God and used these two holidays to reconcile and affirm that relationship.
 
In 1623, the colony was still struggling to survive. The colonists were critically low on food. For months they had been expecting a ship with supplies and additional colonists. The spring planting of Indian corn and beans began well. By mid-July, however, “it pleased God, for our further chastisement, to send a great drought, insomuch as in six weeks after the latter setting there scarce fell any rain; so the stalk of that which was first set began to send forth the ear, before it came to half growth, and that which was later was not like to yield any at all, both blade and stalk hanging the head, and changing color in such a manner, as we judged it utterly dead. Our beans also ran not up according to their wonted manner, but stood at a stay, many being parched away, as though they had been scorched before the fire. Now were our hopes overthrown, and we discouraged, our joy being turned into mourning.” Additionally, the expected ship had not been heard of for three months, “only the signs of a wreck were seen along the coast, which could not be judged to be any other than the same.” The colonists were devastated. “The most courageous were now discouraged, because God, which hitherto had been our only shield and supporter, now seemed in his anger to arm himself against us.”
 
These misfortunes “moved not only every good man privately to enter into examination with his own estate between God and his conscience, and so to humiliation before him, but also more solemnly to humble ourselves together before the Lord by fasting and prayer. To that end a day was appointed by public authority,....” Winslow did not describe the religious exercises, but stated that they lasted “some eight or nine hours.” The next morning “distilled such soft, sweet, and moderate showers of rain, continuing some fourteen days, and mixed with such seasonable weather, as it was hard to say whether our withered corn or drooping affections were most quickened or revived.” Captain Myles Standish, returning from the north, brought further good news. The supplies and new colonists were safe, although delayed, and again on their way.
 
Their prayers answered, the colonists thought “it would be great ingratitude, if secretly we should smother up the same, or content ourselves with private thanksgiving for that, which by private prayer could not be obtained. And therefore another solemn day was set apart and appointed for that end; wherein we returned glory, honor, and praise, with all thankfulness, to our good God, which dealt so graciously with us;....”4
 
This, then, was the first Thanksgiving Day held in Plymouth Colony. It occurred most likely at the end of July and consisted of a lengthy church service. Probably, there was no feasting. Bradford lamented in his history, that when the new colonists arrived soon after, the “best they could present their friends with was a lobster or a piece of fish without bread or anything else but a cup of fair water.”5 Descriptions of later observances in surviving church records provide more details of the probable structure of the services.
 
Reverend Cotton described a 1684 Plymouth Fast Day service “May 2: the day of Fasting & Prayer was solemnly attended by the whole church in the Pastors house. The Pastour first prayed & preached, then Mr Fuller prayed: Afternoone the Elder prayed, Secretary Morton, Deacon Finney & Thomas Faunce; ... Deacon Morton spake to the church about Intemperance, & long sitting at ordinaryes etc the Elders & Bretheren that spake to it all agreed in their Testimony against those evills & their desires that God would helpe all to more care & watch fullnesse in all respects: the 122 Psalme was sung, & the Pastour minding of the Lords supper to be the next Sabbath, he then ended with a prayer;...”6 Reverend Cotton did not mention food in connection with this fast day, although it was permissible to eat after the final prayer on a fast day. An English visitor to a 1660 Salem fast day for the ordinations of a teacher and elder said, “After the exercise, I was invited to the elder’s house, where was good company and good cheer [food].”7
 
At a 1636 Day of Thanksgiving held by Reverend Lothrop’s Scituate church: “in ye Meetinghouse, beginning some halfe an houre before nine, & continued until after twelve a clocke, ye day beeing very cold, beginning with a short prayer, then a psalme sang, then more large in prayer, after that an other Psalme, & then the Word taught [sermon], after that a prayer – and then a psalme, - Then makeing merry to the creatures, the poorer sort beeing invited of the richer.”8 About a 1639 Thanksgiving Lothrop said, “our praises to God in publque being ended, wee devided into 3 companies to feast togeather.”9 As early as the 1630s, therefore, some congregations were feasting after the service.
 
Over the 17th century, Plymouth Colony held many of these special observances as circumstances required. Beginning in the 1680s, officials called for public thanksgiving and fast days “for the mercies of the yeare” on an annual basis. In the 1700s, they settled into a cycle of spring Fast Days and autumn Thanksgivings. The Massachusetts government abolished the state’s April Fast Day in 1894. Its annual Thanksgiving Day, held on the last Thursday of November, was absorbed by the national Thanksgiving Day established by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. The latter was the first nationally declared Thanksgiving Day for the United States, which is still observed on the fourth Thursday each November to the present day.
 
NOTES:
 
 1. John Lothrop, “Scituate and Barnstable Church Records,” The New England Historical and Genealogical Register 10 (January, 1856):p. 38.
 
 2. John Cotton, Jr., “Plymouth Church Records, Volume I, Part V,” Publications of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts: Volume XXII: Collections (Boston: The Society, 1920), p. 257.
 
 3. William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation, 1620-1647, Ed. Samuel Eliot Morison (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1952), p. 47.
 
 4. Edward Winslow, Good Newes from New England, [1624], ed. Alexander Young (Bedford: Applewood Books, 1996), pp. 54-56.
 
 5. Bradford, p. 130.
 
 6. Cotton, p. 255.
 
 7. Thomas Hutchinson, The History of the Colony and Province of Massachusetts-Bay, ed. Lawrence Mayo, 3 vols. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1936), I:359.
 
 8. Lothrop, p. 39.
 
 9. Lothrop, p. 39.
 
Andre Cramblit, Operations Director
Northern California Indian Development Council
andrekaruk@ncidc.org
241F Street Eureka California 95501
http://ncidc.org
(707) 445-8451

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THANKSGIVING A CELEBRATION OF GENOCIDE
By Laura Eliff, Vice President Native American Student Association 
 
Thanksgiving is a holiday where families gather to share stories, football games are watched on television and a big feast is served. It is also the time of the month when people talk about Native Americans. But does one ever wonder why we celebrate this national holiday? Why does everyone give thanks? History is never simple. The standard history of Thanksgiving tells us that the "Pilgrims and Indians" feasted for three days, right? Most Americans believe that there was some magnificent bountiful harvest. In the Thanksgiving story, are the "Indians" even acknowledged by a tribe? No, because everyone assumes "Indians" are the same.
 
So, who were these Indians in 1621? In 1620, Pilgrims arrived on the Mayflower naming the land Plymouth Rock. One fact that is always hidden is that the village was already named Patuxet and the Wampanoag Indians lived there for thousands of years. To many Americans, Plymouth Rock is a symbol. Sad but true many people assume, "It is the rock on which our nation began." In 1621, Pilgrims did have a feast but it was not repeated years thereafter. So, it wasn't the beginning of a Thanksgiving tradition nor did Pilgrims call it a Thanksgiving feast. Pilgrims perceived Indians in relation to the Devil and the only reason why they were invited to that feast was for the purpose of negotiating a treaty that would secure the lands for the Pilgrims.
 
 The reason why we have so many myths about Thanksgiving is that it is an invented tradition. It is based more on fiction than fact. So, what truth ought to be taught? In 1637, the official Thanksgiving holiday we know today came into existence. (Some people argue it formally came into existence during the Civil War, in 1863, when President Lincoln proclaimed it, which also was the same year he had 38 Sioux hung on Christmas Eve.) William Newell, a Penobscot Indian and former chair of the anthropology department of the University of Connecticut, claims that the first Thanksgiving was not "a festive gathering of Indians and Pilgrims, but rather a celebration of the massacre of 700 Pequot men, women and children."
 
 In 1637, the Pequot tribe of Connecticut gathered for the annual Green Corn Dance ceremony. Mercenaries of the English and Dutch attacked and surrounded the village; burning down everything and shooting whomever try to escape. The next day, Newell notes, the Governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony declared: "A day of Thanksgiving, thanking God that they had eliminated over 700 men, women and children." It was signed into law that, "This day forth shall be a day of celebration and thanksgiving for subduing the Pequots."
 
 Most Americans believe Thanksgiving was this wonderful dinner and harvest celebration.
 
 The truth is the "Thanksgiving dinner" was invented both to instill a false pride in Americans and to cover up the massacre. Was Thanksgiving really a massacre of 700 "Indians"? The present Thanksgiving may be a mixture of the 1621 three-day feast and the "Thanksgiving" proclaimed after the 1637 Pequot massacre. So next time you see the annual "Pilgrim and Indian display" in a shopping window or history about other massacres of Native Americans, think of the hurt and disrespect Native Americans feel. Thanksgiving is observed as a day of sorrow rather than a celebration. This year at Thanksgiving dinner, ponder why you are giving thanks.
 
William Bradford, in his famous History of the Plymouth Plantation, celebrated the Pequot massacre:  "Those that scraped the fire were slaine with the sword; some hewed to peeces, others rune throw with their rapiers, so as they were quickly dispatchte, and very few escapted. It was conceived they thus destroyed about 400 at this time. It was a fearful sight to see them thus frying in the fyer, and the streams of blood quenching the same, and horrible was the stincke and sente there of, but the victory seemed a sweete sacrifice, and they gave the prayers thereof to God, who had wrought so wonderfully for them, thus to inclose their enemise in their hands, and give them so speedy a victory over so proud and insulting an enimie."
 
 The Pequot massacre came after the colonists, angry at the murder of an English trader suspected by the Pequots of kidnapping children, sought revenge. rather than fighting the dangerous Pequot warriors, John Mason and John Underhill led a group of colonists and Native allies to the Indian fort in Mystic, and killed the old men, women, and children who were there. Those who escaped were later hunted down. The Pequot tribe numbered 8,000 when the Pilgrims arrived, but disease had brought their numbers down to 1,500 by 1637. The Pequot "War" killed all but a handful of remaining members of the tribe.
 
Proud of their accomplishments, Underhill wrote a book (above) depicted the burning of the village, and even made an illustration (below) showing how they surrounded the village to kill all within it. - John K. Wilson Link to Above Report The First Thanksgiving The year was 1637. 700 men, women and children of the Pequot Tribe, gathered for their "Annual Green Corn Dance" in the area that is now known as Groton, Conn. While they were gathered in this place of meeting, they were surrounded and attacked by mercenaries of the English and Dutch. The Indians were ordered from the building and as they came forth, they were shot down. The rest were burned alive in the building. The next day, the Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony declared :
 
 A day of Thanksgiving, thanking God that they had eliminated over 700 men, women and children. For the next 100 years, every "Thanksgiving Day" ordained by a Governor or President was to honor that victory, thanking God that the battle had been won. Source: Documents of Holland, 13 Volume Colonial Documentary History, letters and reports form colonial officials to their superiors and the King in England and the private papers of Sir William Johnson, British Indian agent for the New York colony for 30 years Researched by William B. Newell (Penobscot Tribe) Former Chairman of the University of Connecticut Anthropology Department. 1637-When the Green Corn Dance Turned to Blood
 
Happy Thanksgiving 
Date:11/21/03
From:Cherokawa 
 
We're talking turkey - and Thanksgiving
by Terri Jean
 
The Native Truth: A column dedicated to historical truth and human rights activism of the American Indian
http://www.terrijean.com
Contact: terrijean@bright.net
 
Okay, so "Dead Indian Day" may be a bit much, but it is said with tongue in cheek.
 
Last year's 79th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade drew in an estimated 44 million television viewers and 2.5 million spectators who lined the streets of New York City to stand in awe of the gigantic balloons, Pilgrim bobble heads, melodious marching bands, and beautiful floats, one of which featured two-time Grammy winner, Rita Coolidge (Cherokee). She was riding on top of an eagle head that poked out from underneath an enormous headdress, which sat atop a canoe. Dancers from Spirit: The Seventh Fire accompanied her. Though Coolidge's voice was amazing, it wasn't her singing that piqued my attention, rather it was knowing that while she smiled her beautiful indigenous smile at millions of people who truly believe the friendly Indian/brave Pilgrim banquet tale, hundreds of dissenters marched - for the 35th straight year - through Plymouth, Massachusetts in protest of this manufactured myth in what they refer to as a National Day of Mourning.
 
It all started in 1970 when the Commonwealth of Massachusetts invited Wampanoag leader Frank James to deliver a speech pertaining to the 350th anniversary of the landing of the Pilgrims. He agreed, but they later dis-invited him once they read a copy of his speech and strongly disagreed with his contrary perception of the historic event. Refusing to remain silent, Frank James took his speech outside and spoke to hundreds of supporters on top of a Coles Hill, which overlooks Plymouth Rock and a replica of the Mayflower. He spoke about the land theft, slave-trading, deception, oppression, and the struggle for historical truth. Each year since indigenous people and their non-Native supporters gather together each year to honor Frank James and his spirit of justice and an end to the idealized whitewashed fantasy that is, today, known as Thanksgiving.
 
For those of you unfamiliar with the truth, here goes:
 
In 1620 a group of English political revolutionaries and outcasts who moved to Holland after an unsuccessful plot to take over the English government, came to the "New World" with the intent to found an entirely new nation founded on their strict, religious interpretation of the Bible. They believed that they were the Biblical "Chosen Elect," and the already inhabited western continent was theirs. The invading Pilgrims built homes near Pawtuxet village ruins, a town desecrated by diseases from a 1614 British Expedition. Except for the ex-slave/friendly Christian Squanto, the Pilgrims viewed the indigenous inhabitants as heathen children of the devil, and one colonist said the plaque was "the Wonderful Preparation of the Lord Jesus Christ by His Providence for His People's Abode in the Western World." Squanto helped negotiate land settlements between them and the Wampanoag, in a 1621 a three-day 'conference' in which the charitable Wampanoag's brought most of the food, which was tradition among such meetings. In the end, peace between the two people's would continue for more than 15 years.
 
In 1622 propaganda started to circulate about the friendly Natives, the "wonderfulness"of Plymouth, and the vast opportunities found only in the "New World" in an effort to encourage a greater influx of Pilgrim and Puritan colonists. By the mid 1630's tension broke out between the indigenous communities and the invading colonists, resulting in one of the most brutal crimes in our nation's history: colonist trapped an estimated 700 Pequots near Mystic River in 1636 and attacked their camp with "fire, sword, blunderbuss, and tomahawk." Most were burned alive, and those that escaped were either butchered or sold into slavery. The invaders celebrated with the a large feast, and the very first Thanksgiving Proclamation was given in honor of their God allowing them to murder the local residents. Scalping was soon introduced to the Americas by the Dutch who offered twenty shillings for each Indian scalp, and forty shillings for every prisoner sold into slavery. Raping indigenous women was permitted and colonial law gave permission to "kill savages on sight at will." Soon massacres and slavery were common throughout the New World, which was often celebrated with a Thanksgiving Feast.
 
The town of Plymouth, Massachusetts is mighty proud of their English immigrants, so much so that the town hosts and annual re-enactment known as the Pilgrim's Progress. Local historians and townspeople, dressed in long black robes and beating drums, retell the romanticized tale of the welcoming Indians and the poor, brave pilgrims and the peace between their communities for five decades. $1.5 million in tourism dollars is made each year in Plymouth, partaking in the pilgrim march, watching the decade-old parade, buying Pilgrim merchandise or eating at an re-enactment dinner that's advertised as being just like the original diner.
 
Millions are made from this fictional tale. No where does the truth about that 1621 meeting come out, nor do they tell what happened 50 years later. It seems that knowing that the first Thanksgiving Proclamation - which is, in my opinion, the real first Thanksgiving - was actually in praise of the burning alive of children, women and men. Apparently, the truth is a pill that's just too hard to swallow, because who really wants to decorate their table with a cardboard cutouts of sword carrying Pilgrims jamming weapons into frantic Pequots running for lives while their family and fellow villagers screamed from inside burning buildings?
 
In 1970 Frank James wanted to tell the truth, but he was censored. And to this day, the pilgrims remain American icons representing religious freedom and peaceful coexistence to most, but to those who know better, the fantasy (presented as history) myth represents justification of imperialism, land theft, forced colonization, and genocide.
 
So given all that... why would Rita Coolidge sing in the Macy's Day Thanksgiving Parade? Surely she knows the truth about Thanksgiving, and she has to know about the National Day of Mourning... so why would she ride in a parade that celebrates indigenous slavery, slaughter and it's historical coverup?
 
I asked a few readers what they thought, and most gave her a head shake and a big thumbs down. A few were upset that millions would see her and her Native American float and believe that indigenous people are generally happy with Thanksgiving, and that the fictional story is actually historic fact. Others were angry that, again, almost no media attention was brought to those mourning in Plymouth.
 
So, what do YOU think about all this? Should indigenous people assimilate, demonstrate, capitulate, retaliate or celebrate? Should folks honor the Wampanoag and their attempt to live peacefully next to the unassuming Pilgrims? Should Native's take pity on ignorant Americans brainwashed with historic lies and feel-good propaganda, because, like the Wampanoag, taking pity on the sick and stupid is often an indigenous ethic? Should we all go to Plymouth this year and protest, or write our fellow congressmen and demand an end to Thanksgiving? Or are we all to give in and celebrate our lives today, and all that we are thankful for?
 
Most of the people I spoke to about this national holiday said it is often bittersweet. Those who put a turkey on the table made the day their very own by either remembering family and friends who have since crossed over, or for strictly focusing on why they are thankful. A few spent the day at charitable institutions or delivering meals to the needy, while others fasted, ignored the day altogether or joined the protesters in Plymouth. But with everyone I spoke to, a common thread was a day of remembrance and/or mourning.
 
So why a Thanksgiving column in March? Well, I was unable to attend the 2005 National Day of Mourning, but I fully intend to participate in the next one. I'm inviting each of you to join me and together we can stand in solidarity, representing historical truth and indigenous justice. And for those of you who cannot attend, you can raise your voice in protest whenever you hear the lies being spread in newspapers, magazines, classrooms, television shows, and so on. You can write to the media and ask why they aren't covering the Native Day of Mourning, or why they choose to lie to their viewers and readers. And why they choose to celebrate our indigenous people on Thanksgiving - in the Macy's Day parade and with children dressed up as pilgrims and Indians in school plays - rather than with educational programs and events celebrating American Indian Heritage Month.
 
My point is, Thanksgiving will be here before we know it and it's up to you to decide what you're actually celebrating, and from that, what you're truly grateful for. As for me, I'd be eternally grateful if my Native Truth readers joined me at the 2006 National Day of Mourning. We can all stand together - united.
 
If you're going, please let me know.
 
Until then...
 
Terri Jean
Andre Cramblit, Operations Director
Northern California Indian Development Council
andrekaruk@ncidc.org
241F Street Eureka California 95501
http://ncidc.org
(707) 445-8451

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