The First Thanksgiving

“The colonists were contemptuous of the Indians, who they regarded as uncivilized and satanic heathens, and the fragile early peace between Native Americans and the early settlers would soon unravel in a horrific manner in what is now Mystic Connecticut, where the Pequot tribe was celebrating their own Thanksgiving, the green corn festival. In the predawn hours, settlers— not the Pilgrims, but a band of Puritans— descended on their village and shot, clubbed and burned alive over 700 native men, woman and children.” – Richard Schiffman, The Truth About Thanksgiving: What They Never Taught You in School

In elementary school, young Americans learned about the pilgrims that came over on the Mayflower and had a joyous meal with the Native Americans. This meal was a celebration of the collaboration that occurred between the two groups. This meal was dubbed “Thanksgiving” and has became an American tradition ever since.

However, Thanksgiving is a little more complex than that. The truth is that both groups were struggling – the Native Americans lost the majority of their people due to smallpox while the pilgrims lost their people due to the journey and the harsh winter. The groups signed a peace treaty so that wouldn’t have to worry about the other while they were struggling. The actual meal was a harvest celebration the pilgrims were having and it is unclear whether or not the Native Americans were invited, or they just showed up.

Years later, the pilgrims had their real Thanksgiving which was a religious fasting celebration that was unrelated to the harvest celebration. These two events eventually became linked.

(05:52) “They actually didn’t eat turkey during it. They ate dear, wild fowl, corn, herbs.”

There were also other celebrations that occurred. Other colonists, the Puritans, had massacred a tribe of over 900 individuals. They celebrated this slaughter with days of “thanksgiving.” When George Washington celebrated Thanksgiving, it was as a tribute to the surviving nation.

The sources used for this episode include: and and

You can listen to this episode on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, Stitcher, and Buzzsprout.

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