Seattle, Washington (TFC) – A public school teacher in Alaska created a call-to-action in The New York Times today challenging educators and family members to teach the truth about Thanksgiving to children. Yatibaey Evans, educator and president-elect of the National Indian Education Association writes: “A happy story makes us feel good. Is telling a lie perpetrating happiness or covering a frightful truth in hopes of creating assimilated citizens?” Evans believes practicing gratitude and giving thanks is important; however, she stresses that being open and honest about the injustices done to native people in North America presents space for healing and can help the next generation to transcend.
The true American tradition of Thanksgiving is one of massacres, racism, annihilations of entire civilizations, and the destruction of culture. According to Native American author Susan Bates, the first day of Thanksgiving was declared by the mayor of a white settlement near present day Groton, Connecticut. The Pequot Tribe was gathered for their Green Corn Festival, the festival to give thanks. Before dawn, the sleeping Natives were surrounded; those who woke and tried to escape were shot or clubbed to death while many were burned alive inside. The next day, the colony of mostly English and Dutch settlers feasted, celebrating the murder of over 700 innocent people.
Following this so-called victory, the settlers began attacking more Native Villages. Those considered unfit for slavery were murdered. Rewards were offered for Indian scalps. Another particularly successful massacre prompted a second day of Thanksgiving. Even the chief of history’s allegedly beloved Wampanog tribe was beheaded; his head was displayed, impaled for 24 years in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The gluttonous and entitled settlers went on to kill many native people, and had many thanksgiving feasts. Eventually, George Washington advised not celebrating each and every massacre, and to set aside one day a year for Thanksgiving. 74 years later, Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday, according to Bates, on the very same day as he issued orders to exterminate the Sioux Indians.
Enjoy your turkey, pie, football, and beer, America. As you celebrate and give thanks with your families, remember that one time when immigrants came to America, murdered everyone, and destroyed the existing culture of the people living there. I cannot help but wonder if the xenophobia that is endemic in American culture is actually a deep-seated collective guilt, insecurity, and fear of karmic retribution, but that’s none of my business. Let’s all waste a ton of food and then go fight each other over low-priced consumer goods! Happy Thanksgiving!