WRITTEN BY: AIDAN MCKAY
COVER PHOTO COURTESY: WIX
Turkey, cranberry sauce, and mashed potatoes. On the fourth Thursday of every November, we celebrate the genocide of Native Americans by coming together with our families and feasting on turkey, cranberry sauce, and mashed potatoes.
We are taught from a young age that the Europeans who came to the “New World” brought with them peace and knowledge, that there was an alliance between the Europeans and Native Americans, and over time that alliance slowly dissolved; but this is only part of the story.
The pilgrims had just sailed across the Atlantic Ocean and they were greeted with a cold, harsh winter in the “New World.” As a result, many of them died. Taking pity on them, the Wampanoags taught them how to farm and fish; they even made a peace treaty with the pilgrims. After the first harvest, the indigenous people and the Europeans came together and had a feast lasting three days which we commonly call “The first Thanksgiving.”
After this, word spread through Europe that the “New World” was a dreamland, and boatloads of disease-carrying barbarians decided to call it their new home. When they arrived and saw that there were no fences on the land, they proclaimed that it was free for the taking and that any natives on the land could be sold into slavery.
Angered by the unrightful seizure of their land and the loss of so many people, the Pequot Nation who had not signed a peace treaty fought back. This sparked the Pequot war (1636-1638) which was one of the bloodiest Native American wars ever fought.
According to the Republic of Lakotah, in 1637, nearly 700 Pequot people gathered for the Green Corn Festival, which is similar to our Thanksgiving. While they slept, they were surrounded by Europeans who ordered them to come outside. Those who came out were shot while most of the women and children cowered inside and were burned alive.
Victorious and proud, the Europeans attacked more and more villages; boats loaded with as many as 500 Native Americans bound for slavery regularly left the ports of New England. Bounties were paid for the scalps of Native Americans to encourage the deaths of as many as possible.
After a particularly successful raid against the Pequot, the churches of New England announced that there would be a second day of Thanksgiving to celebrate their victory. According to powwows.com, they chopped off heads of the Native Americans and kicked them around like soccer balls.
Not even the peaceful Wampanoags could escape the frenzy; their chief was killed and his head was impaled on a pole in Plymouth, Massachusetts where it remained on display for 24 years.
As you sit down with your family this Thanksgiving and glut yourself with green bean casserole and pumpkin pie, be thankful. It’s the bare minimum you can do on a holiday built upon the genocide of thousands of Native Americans.