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Thanksgiving: A day for mourning, not celebration

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The debate continues over whether or not it is morally correct to celebrate Thanksgiving.

The debate continues over whether or not it is morally correct to celebrate Thanksgiving.

The debate continues over whether or not it is morally correct to celebrate Thanksgiving.

Meghan Duffey, Staff Writer

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With Thanksgiving Day looming, we once again come to the same debate over whether or not it is morally correct to celebrate Thanksgiving.  Is it okay to celebrate the unfair treatment of Native Americans by our ancestors? Shouldn’t Thanksgiving, instead, be a day of remembrance and mourning?

Many history textbooks today are biased when it comes to the Native Americans. When I was in high school, I remember my AP United States History teacher telling me that textbooks are written to “make the winner look good.” No one wants to hear about the loser and the struggles that they may have faced because of their loss.

Of course, as Americans, we read the textbooks that typically paint the early settlers in a positive light. Some of the information that we learn may not be totally accurate because it is told from the point of view of the winners — Americans — and not the losers, such as the Native Americans.

When we learned about Thanksgiving in school, it was always shown to be a wondrous day in which two very different groups of people came together to feast. The day was full of laughter and joy and showed the kindness of the Pilgrims at Plymouth.  

One of the most important facts that history textbooks neglect to mention is that the Native Americans were not invited to this feast. The Wampanoag, the Native Americans who interacted with the Pilgrims, heard the gunshots when the settlers went hunting for food for their harvest festival. When they went to investigate, thinking that the Pilgrims were preparing for war, they instead found a feast. The Wampanoag went to hunt deer and joined the feast with the Pilgrims, thus setting the background for the Thanksgiving that we all think about today.

The fact that the Pilgrims did not invite the Native Americans already makes Thanksgiving seem different. We are portraying it as this celebration of a grand act of kindness by the Pilgrims when, in reality, the Native Americans had to invite themselves.

Another aspect of Thanksgiving that history textbooks do not portray is how the Native Americans feel about the holiday. For many Native Americans, Thanksgiving is not a day of celebration. It is a day that represents betrayal and violence.

After the peace between the Wampanoag and Pilgrims dissipated, many Native Americans were killed. They had people invade their land, and with the diseases and weapons that the Pilgrims brought, the Native Americans never stood a chance.

One peaceful feast — a feast that the Native Americans were not even invited to in the first place — does not make up for years upon years of violence and death. Native Americans do not celebrate Thanksgiving. Instead, on Thanksgiving Day some Native Americans gather at Cole’s Hill in Plymouth to take part in a National Day of Mourning.

If the Native Americans do not celebrate this day of “kindness and celebration,” then we should not either. Taking part in a celebration on a day when others are mourning the loss of a majority of their ancestors is cruel and not something that we should be proud of.

While the original Thanksgiving Day was not directly linked to the massacre of Native Americans, it does represent a horrific period in American history. As “victors” of this time period, most of our educational materials ignore the viewpoint of the Native Americans and, therefore, ignore the dark side of Thanksgiving.

As the Native Americans are mourning for their dead, we are celebrating the “kindness” that we showed them. If we were really that kind, then there would be no reason for their mourning.

Thanksgiving is not a day that should be used to celebrate but should, instead, be used to mourn the massacre of Native Americans at the hands of our ancestors.

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One Response to “Thanksgiving: A day for mourning, not celebration”

  1. Gabrielle Manigault on November 25th, 2015 3:32 am

    Would you mind telling me the title and the author of the book from which you gleaned this previously unheard version of the Pilgrims failing to invite their guests of honor, for the feast that had been prepared in their honor? I would venture to guess that it was perhaps in a modern textbook? I had a grand old history professor in college that always said,” if you want the historically accurate account, find the books that were written by the people that were alive at the time of whatever ever event that you seek to study. In general, the less time between the historical event and the books wriiten about it, the closer to the truth it will be. In other words, go to the original source. Do not take the rewrite of American history by a liberal professor as the Gospel. For example, John Bradford, Governor of the Plymouth Rock Colony, (aka the Pilgrims) kept a Diary of the first years in America, which was later published and obviously is considered to be the most historic account of the events that took place in those early years. One can’t get much closer to the horses mouth than that! Again, if you liberals ever took the time to really read the true history of the world, you would learn that people have been conquering each other since the beggining of time. Yes, Treaties were broken between the White settlers and the Indians. White settlers and the calvalry killed many Indians, but the Indians tortured and murdered many, many white men, and white women, and white children. Sometimes they kept the women and children as slaves, which was worse than being dead. Long before the white man “brought war ” to these proud and nobel people, The Indian Tribes were at constant war with each other and made slaves of their enemies given the chance. Remember Sakajawia? That kept Lewis and Clark from starving to death? She was born an Arapaho and taken as a spoil of war by the Souix, traded by them to a white trapper in exchange for a few beads, ect., ect.. Disease killed far more Indians than Columbus, Cortez, The Pilgrims, and the entire U.S Army combined. And disease killed many white people as well.The white man, while being the carrier, did not knowingly, or intentionally infect the Indian nations. There were good Indians and bad Indians, as there also were white people both good and bad. As is always the way, the stronger of any species wins the fight over territory . We were stronger, faster, and had better weapons and better ideas than the Indians and the Mexicans. We won, they lost.Do you know how Africans became slaves? They were rounded up out of their villages in the jungle by the tribes that were their ememies in cahoots with the Muslims, It was the Muslims that arranged for and were paid handsomely for them to be put on (in the first years of the slave trade ships from New England, Yankee slave ships, with Yankee
    captains, that chained them below decks for the many month ocean crossing. , Usually, more than half of their human cargo died en route. As Mohamed Ali said, the best thing that ever happened to him was his ancestor being caught in the jungle and brought to America as a slave. . You don’t hear of any of them wanting to RETURN to Africa, do you? As for the Mexicans, Santa Anna killed many good men, including Davy Crocket and jim Bowie at The Alamo. The white men finally won the Mexican War and along with victory, all of present day mexico, new mexico, Arizona, Texas, California, nevada,… and as had never been done before in the history of war and conquest, We gave Mexico back half of the land that we had won by fair and square, and paid a high price for in
    blood and treasure. And no, the Christians did not start the Crusades against the poor Muslims for no reason. The Mulims had murdered and raped and plundered their way acrooss the middle east and taken part of Spain and France was next, and then amazingly Charles Martel of France, not only held the Muslim hoards at bay, but somehow managed to drive them back to their own part of the world, temporarily. History always repeats itself, and look who is murdering and raping and bombing their way across the middle east and ,into Europe? Unfortunately, there was no Charles Martel to save France from them this time!

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Thanksgiving: A day for mourning, not celebration