Another View of Thanksgiving

November 26, 2021
Thanksgiving. A remembrance of the shared celebration between struggling Pilgrims and the benevolent Indians that taught them how to survive. Right?

The truth is a bit more complicated, and the descendants of the Indians in question (the Wampanoag) remember it somewhat differently.

When the Mayflower landed in 1620, the Wampanoag had been weakened by the Great Dying of 1616-1619—caused by disease brought by European sailors and famine, as well as abduction of members of the tribe for slavery and attacks from neighboring tribes. In fact, Plymouth Plantation was founded on the ruins of the Wampanoag village of Patuxet, which was entirely wiped out by the Great Dying.

Remember Squanto, who showed the Pilgrims how to successfully plant and harvest crops in the New World? That was the Europeans’ name for him—a name given to him after he had been kidnapped and sold into slavery. His real name was Tisquantum, and after finally escaping slavery and making his way back home, he found that he was only member of his home village of Patuxet who was still alive.

But perhaps the biggest paradox of the Thanksgiving we know and love—the one that celebrates a mythical interpretation of a moment of fellowship between Pilgrims and Indians—is that it marks a moment that was the beginning of a genocide. In fact, many Native Americans recognize the fourth Thursday of November as a National Day of Mourning.
Should we still celebrate Thanksgiving? Many people say no—that it’s a desecration to have a celebration on the day of remembrance for a genocide. Others understand the mythical nature of the First Thanksgiving but choose to focus on the family togetherness and giving thanks aspects. Still others look for ways to support Indigenous people on Thanksgiving Day, or have a harvest celebration on another day.

You can read more about the Native American view of Thanksgiving at this link:

You can learn whose land you’re on with the following link:

You can support the Duwamish, the host tribe of Seattle, by shopping at their retail store or participating in their “Real Rent” program:


Photo by Sami Aksu from Pexels