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EDU 362 Fact Sheet - The Truth About the First Thanksgiving

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Jordan Turcotte

on 15 December 2010

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Transcript of EDU 362 Fact Sheet - The Truth About the First Thanksgiving

The Truth About the First Thanksgiving (as discovered through reading James W. Loewen's "Lies my Teacher Told Me: Everything your American History Textbook got Wrong.") Thanksgiving is the occasion on which we give thanks to God, as a nation, for the blessings the He hath bestowed upon us. What we know to be the first Thanksgiving: "After some exploring, the Pilgrims chose land around Plymouth Harbor for their settlement. Unfortunately, they had arrived in December and were not prepared for the New England winter. However, they were aided by friendly Indians, who gave them fod and showed them how to grow corn. When warm weather came, the colonists planted, fished, hunted, and prepared themselves for the next winter. After harvesting their first crop, they and their Indian friends celebrated their first Thanksgiving," with Pilgrims in their best clothes next to "I is for the Indian we invited to share our food." their almost naked Indian guests. The Indians had never seen such a feast. squash. corn and turkeys and pumpkins and They served: So, what's wrong with this traditional image? Facts: Eastern Indians had observed an autumnal The Pilgrims did not introduce the tradition. harvest celebration for centuries. All foods listed to have been at the first thanksgiving dinner were exclusively indigenous to the Americas and have been provided by the local tribe. It was not the Indians who had "never seen such a feast"
but the Pilgrims. Our modern celebration of Thanksgiving dates back to only 1863. During the Civil War, the Union needed all the patriotism that such a celebration might muster, so... Not until the 1890s did the Pilgrims become included in the celebration. Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving a national holiday. What is "Thanksgiving?" In the United States:
It is the fourth Thursday in November In Canada:
It is the second Monday in October Thanksgiving commemorates a feast held in 1621 by the Pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians. "Today is a time for celebrating for you... but it is not a time of celebrating for me. It is with heavy heart that I look back upon what happened to my People... the Pilgrims had hardly explored the shores of Cape Cod four days before they had robbed the graves of my ancestors, and stolen their corn, wheat, and beans... Massasoit, the great leader of the Wampanoag, knew these facts; yet he and his People welcomed and befriended the settlers... little knowing that... before 50 years were to pass, the Wampanoags... and other Indians living near the settlers would be killed by their guns or dead from diseases that we caught from them... Although our way of life is almost gone and our language is almost extinct, we the Wampanoags still walk the lands of Massachusetts... What has happened cannot be changed, but today we work toward a better America, a more Indian America where people and nature once again are important."
A speech prepared by Frank James to mark the 350th anniversary of the Pilgrims' landing. The Massachusetts Department of Commerce would not allow him to read it. Native Americans and non-Native allies did not take this censorship and suppression of Frank James's speech lying down. That year (1970) and every November since they have organized a counter event to the traditional Thanksgiving celebration - "the National Day of Mourning."
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