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The True History of Thanksgiving

The first Thanksgiving. Photo by Wikimedia Commons.
The first Thanksgiving. Photo by Wikimedia Commons.

Every year, on the fourth Thursday of November, the country pauses to celebrate Thanksgiving, a holiday to give thanks for what we have and to spend time with loved ones.

However, despite it being such a prominent holiday, the true story of Thanksgiving is virtually unknown despite versions of the story being taught as early as elementary school.

Most people know the pleasant version due to movies or children’s books. The pleasant version goes that the Pilgrims arrive and are approached by a friendly Indian, Squanto, who somehow spoke English. He teaches them the ways of the new land they came to in hopes of religious freedom. The pilgrims prosper, and everyone has a great big feast to celebrate.

However, this is not the truth, and there is no happy ending.

The Pilgrims were separatists who sought to establish a religious theocracy in the new land, and they also came here to make money, according to The New York Times.

The pilgrims sold many Indians into slavery. Squanto, whose real name is Tisquantum, was a former slave earlier settlers had sold, which is why he was able to communicate in English. He sought friendship with the pilgrims because his entire tribe had been eliminated by the smallpox disease European settlers brought across the seas.

According to the New York Times, Squanto taught the settlers how to harvest, fish and what grains to plant. He even taught them to build better homes. In the fall, after a successful summer, Squanto, the neighboring Wampanoag Indians and the Pilgrims did gather for a celebration of their harvest.

However, shortly after this, the European settlers attempted to enslave the Indians to keep them working for them, as the Indians were getting tired of the strenuous work. This led to the massacre of Indians who revolted and the eventual virtual elimination of Native Americans from the Eastern colonies, according to the New York Times.

This is the true story of Thanksgiving.


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