I hope that you are all doing well, staying healthy and safe. As we celebrate Thanksgiving today, I believe it is important that we take a look at the history of this holiday.
The “first Thanksgiving” story of Pilgrims and Native Americans celebrating a friendly harvest meal in 1621 is a fraudulent recount of history. A narrative of colonial validation leaves out some truths of what happened during that time.
This year marks the 400th anniversary of the pilgrims landing in Cape Code, Plymouth Colony. In 1620, when the Mayflower docked, in present day Massachusetts, this was the beginning of the end of the Wampanoag tribe. The Wampanoag, local to Massachusetts, were already in contact with Europeans by the time the pilgrim landed. In fact, Ousamequin, the leader of the Wampanoag tribe reached out to the English pilgrims to help them ward off tribal rebels. However, the relationship soon soured as the Wampanoag died from European diseases and at the hands of the colonialists in King Phillip’s War. This almost eradicated the Wampanoag. To Native Americans, Thanksgiving is not a celebration but rather a day of mourning. 1, 2
The Thanksgiving story as we know it was created in 1769 by Rev. Alexander Young who was attempting to increase tourism to New England. The idea grew in popularity, and President Abraham Lincoln declared it a holiday in 1863 to foster national unity.1
But, the history of disease and the annulation of the Wampanoag population is usually left out of America’s Thanksgiving history. Thus, on this day of Thanksgiving, as we celebrate with our loved ones both near and far, I believe it is important that we are grateful; however, we should also be aware of the history of this day.
I myself am very thankful for the GGU community who has helped me through the past few months as we all navigate Covid. This is a time for being thankful and giving back. My personal favorite is to give back by donating to our local foodbanks, especially during a time where I am fortunate to be having a Thanksgiving meal. Please help by giving back to the Alameda County Community Food Bank and the SF-Marin Foodbank.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone,
Until next time!