Thangs Taken 2015

29 11 2015

1024px-Tribal_Territories_Southern_New_EnglandWho Were the Indians at the First Thanksgiving?

I don’t think most people know what happened on that first thanksgiving, but hopefully this piece will help to give you a little background. I’m not saying you have to throw down your fork as you read this and walk out of your family’s Thanksgiving Day feast, but at least know a little about what actually happened on that day when the “Pilgrims” and “Indians” first sat down together, basically the whole reason why we have this day off in November.

First of all know that almost all of this story is a big myth and lie…!!! I hate to burst your little bubbles, but yes, most of what we know is just mythology to help cover up the story of genocide against Native people in this country.

When we give thanks today, we usually are giving thanks to God, for all of the blessings “he” has given us over the past year. This is a good thing, because we should all be thankful for what life has given us, be it good or bad.

However, if this day is about celebrating the bountiful harvest that the “Pilgrims” had and how they invited the Indians to share in that harvest, shouldn’t we know something about the “Indians” they sat down with? And shouldn’t we be giving them thanks?

When the so-called “Pilgrims” first arrived they eventually settled in an abandoned native village known as Patuxet. This village was abandoned because the Wamponoag people had been ravaged by a disease brought by earlier European explorers/traders. By the time the English Colonists from Plymouth, England arrived in 1621 the village was empty, except for perhaps a few corpses that had not been buried because there was no one left to bury them.   Seeing this as an opportunity and a blessing from God, the Puritans and other people aboard ship the Mayflower decided they would remain and call this village Plymouth, after the place they came from.

This colonial project would get off to a bad start with more than half of the colonist dying off from starvation and sickness. As they perished the Wamponoag and their leader Massasoit would debate as what to do about them. One of the Wamponoag who had been kidnapped and sold into slavery (Tesquantum aka Squanto) in England had escaped and made his way back to America. Squanto told his people the potential threat that the Natives faced from the Europeans after having seen their country. Massasoit decided to use Squanto as a translator since he had learned some English while a slave in England to negotiate an agreement between the English Colonists and the Wamponoag. After this peace treaty was agreed to the Wamponoag brought food like corn, squash, deer and other native foods to help the English survive. They had already helped by showing them how to grow their own food prior to this offering. This would have been the first Thanksgiving, but we don’t know the date that this took place and no one called it that back in the 1620s. Even the name Pilgrim was not used by the colonist at that time, that name along with Thanksgiving was given later by Americans in the 19th Century.

What perhaps is more shocking is what happens after the so-called first Thanksgiving. After many years of peaceful co-existence and trade between the Wampanoag people (people of the first light) and their chief Massasoit things would go very bad for the natives. Eventually, so many English colonists would arrive to Native America and demand more land that Native people would push back and refused to sell or trade any more land. They also banned all missionaries from operating in Native territory due to the cultural effects that Christianity was having on the natives. In addition the colonists no longer traded saw a need to trade with the Wampanoags as the beaver population had been wiped out and colonist began trading with others.

By this time Chief Massasoit had passed away making his son Metacomet the new Chief. Eventual a war would break out between the two peoples; Metacomet would encourage other people to join the Wamponoags in defeating the English. The Massachusett Nation (what the state of Massachusetts is named after today) and others would join him. Unfortunately, the natives would lose the war and Chief Metacomet would have his body dismembered with his head being placed at the center of Plymouth Colony (formerly Patuxet) to remind everyone English and Natives alike what the outcome of King Philips War was. (King Philip was the name given to Chief Metacomet by the English).

On this day let us the remember the Wampanoag, Massachusett, Narranganset, Pequot, Nipmuck and all native people that have resisted European colonization and continue this struggle today!!

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