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Celebrating Genocide, Invasion, and Slavery: The Truth About Thanksgiving

With Thanksgiving coming up this week, I think it’s important to remember the REAL history of the holiday and not the made-up version that we learned in our history books when we were kids. Many people don’t realize that what they learned in school isn’t the full truth to what really happened between the Indigenous people and the settlers. We, as Americans, cover this up because we don’t want to make our ancestors look like bad people, but the truth in the matter is that they were the bad guys. The settlers beat, raped, killed and took control of the Natives and their land. They called this land their own when it was never theirs to take. Natives owned this land and for so much longer than people give them credit for.

So, the Natives and the Pilgrims didn’t sit down for a feast and chat and have a great time. No. Not at all. This was made up later on to calm people down about the truth of their people. What really happened was when the Pilgrims sailed to Plymouth, Massachusetts they found an “Indian” man named Squanto. Squanto had survived slavery in England and knew the language so he helped the Pilgrims grow corn and negotiated a peace treaty for his tribe and the Pilgrims. Once word got out that this new land was found, British settlers began moving in and taking these Natives for slaves and killing a majority of them. Squanto’s tribe, the Pequot Nation, did not agree with the treaty that was signed. Therefore, a war broke out. This was called the Pequot War and was the bloodiest war the Natives ever fought.

The reason we have Thanksgiving is because there was a feast everyday after all the massacres of the Natives had been committed. This went on for several days, but George Washington said for there to only be one day set aside for a real Thanksgiving instead of several days. Later on, during the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln called for Thanksgiving to be a National holiday and the story of a happy get together with the “Indians” and Pilgrims was told.

It’s unbelieve that a story had to be made up in order for us to learn about why we celebrate Thanksgiving, and my heart was broken when I finally learned the truth because Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I think it’s important that we all educate ourselves outside of what the textbooks say because these are White men writing these books and of course they’re going to make the Pilgrims look like the good guys because those are our ancestors.

Although the truth about Thanksgiving is horrific, I think it’s still a great time to be with family and friends and show appreciation for one another. So, this Thanksgiving remember the history but don’t forget to be thankful for all those in your life.

While being a member of Kutztown University’s Her Campus, I was the Vice President and lead editor. Her Campus afforded me many opportunities to voice my thoughts and opinions freely, and let them be heard by anyone reading. I found Her Campus to be a great tool in helping me advance my future in writing and editing.
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