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The History of Thanksgiving

By Crystal Mobaraka

What is Thanksgiving? Is it a time to get together with family, get some time off of school, and prepare for a big family feast? Most people know it is a holiday on the fourth Thursday of every November. We will debunk the history of it.

Starting with what has been taught to us for over 250 years through school or table talk. As the history books say, or even many of our modern sites like and the History Channel, Thanksgiving is a celebration holiday. The most widely said story of Thanksgiving starts in 1621. Multiple sources state that it began with Puritan pilgrims setting towards Plymouth through their Mayflower ship. Many passengers went through disease and famine, resulting in many of them not lasting through the brutal winter. However, over the next few days of settling in, once they landed, that is when they encountered Native Americans. They had been living there for centuries.

From the stories told, different variations always end with the same conclusion. Those conclusions are that throughout those days of settling in, the pilgrims and the Native Americans found ways to work with each other and lean on each other to survive against other tribes. That is where the Native Americans had come in handy with crops and ways of land survival for the pilgrims. They said ways of communicating were through Broken English and the words of the Wampanoag people. That is when after collecting enough crops, they held something known as The First Thanksgiving. This is where the big tradition comes from when it comes to having a big feast and thanking or praising God. Thanksgiving meals traditionally feature turkey, bread stuffing, potatoes, cranberries, and pumpkin pie, as they also do today in modern times.

Over 250 years later, Abraham Lincoln, the current president, made a notion of it and recognized Thanksgiving as an official holiday on November 28th annually. Every year, families come together and celebrate all things in life while focusing on positivity. Although this might be the story that we have all been talking about and never thought to question, Native American people all over the world think differently.

Thousands of Native American people do not even wish to hear about Thanksgiving. They believe the story has been told inaccurately and push people to know the real history when celebrating the holiday. Many of these tribes know it as a day of mourning, not a celebration. Tribes for hundreds of years have taught their families and children that those times around the first Thanksgiving are only the death and destruction of their people. There are many stories of Native American men slaughtered for random and misplaced offenses. When interviewed in Teen Vogue, teenage girls stated, “Thanksgiving was not true. That is not the true story that you started behind Thanksgiving after every killing of a whole village, these European settlers celebrated eight, and they called it Thanksgiving.” They also mentioned, “It was not until Abraham Lincoln became president that it became an official holiday; he ordered 38 Dakota men to be hung for war crimes after the sacred holiday Christmas.” (Teen Vogue, 2 minutes).

Overall, when there are two sides to every story and when celebrating, it is always important to acknowledge the truth. So, keep in mind that when we celebrate Thanksgiving every year, to be respectful and make this holiday something to celebrate for and not what it was brought up on. Sometimes, some acknowledgement of an event can help with the known ignorance surrounding it.


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