Today is Thanksgiving. Like many of these days, this day is filled with controversy, parades, football games, documentaries, various shows, and emotion. Turkey, sweet potatoes, sweet potato pie, greens, apple pie, stuffing, cranberries, yams, mashed potatoes, and other foods are consumed by people nationwide during this day. First, we have to acknowledge the Native Americans. They are the indigenous peoples of America. They suffered unspeakable crimes and oppression by many European terrorists to put it lightly. Thanksgiving (as practiced in the USA) is definitely a celebration in which many people omit the perverted the genocide and the bloodshed of the Native Americans. Thanksgiving in the USA is a celebration of the genocide of Native Americans. So, we have to tell this truth about these things, so we should never omit real history here in the world. Thanksgiving ceremonies have existed for thousands of years and have been in existence among numerous religious and spiritual traditions for thousands of years too. In May 1541, Spanish explorer Francisco Vasquez de Coronado led 1,500 men in a thanksgiving celebration at the Palo Duro Canyon. He traveled north from Mexico City in 1540 to search for gold. The group went into Texas. The Texas Society Daughters of the American Colonists cite this event as the “First Thanksgiving” in 1959. In June 30, 1564, French Huguenot colonists celebrated in solemn praise and thanksgiving in Jacksonville, Florida. The Huguenots were French Protestants. They were protected in France of their religious liberty rights once by King Henry IV of France via his Edict of Nantes (which promoted the religious and political rights of the Huguenots). King Henry IV was more progressive and he was assassinated by by a Catholic fanatic, François Ravaillac in 1610. The Edict of Nantes was revoked by the other reactionary absolute monarch French King Louis XIV (whose nickname was the "sun king" since he wanted to control France under his rule). Cardinal Rechieleu was another agent of the Catholic Church and he supported Catholic absolute monarchs as well. The Huguenot colony was destroyed by Spanish raiding party in 1565. This “thanksgiving” was commemorated at Fort Carolina Memorial on the St. Johns River. In North America, by September 8, 1565, Pedro Menendez Aviles landed in St. Augustine, Florida where he and his men share a feast with Native Americans. The first Northern American celebration of European harvest festivals is held in Newfoundland by the Frobisher Expedition. There has been a similar food festival in Jamestown in 1610 too. The Thanksgiving that has been talked about and debated about a lot is the one involving the Plymouth Colony of New England.
First, we have to describe the time period of the early 17th century. In America, Native American tribes thrived before European colonization. In Europe, it has been a century after the Protestant Reformation. The Plymouth Colony existed from the English. In England, there was conflict between the monarchs and the Parliament including the people. The Parliament wanted to limited the power of the British monarchs while many British monarchs (especially after the Tudors) wanted more control over the people of Britain. Back then, King James I ruled England. He was an Anglican (which was a carbon copy of the Roman Catholic church but with little modifications) and an absolute monarch. King James I also survived the evil Jesuit-inspired Gunpowder plot of 1605 (which involved English Catholics like Robert Catesby). King James I believed in the divine right of Kings doctrine, which is very similar to the doctrine of the Catholic belief of the supreme earthly power of the Pope, which I don't agree with obviously. His Basilikon Doron, a manual on the powers of a king, promoted this belief. He or King James I opposed the criticisms from the Pilgrims and the Puritans. The Puritans were not Separatists. They wanted to reform the Church of England from within and eliminate it of its Catholic influences. They were mainly upper middle class and they settled in Salem and Boston. The Pilgrims were Separatists. They wanted to separate from the Church of England completely and form its own independent, autonomous church. The Pilgrims settled in Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts. So, the Pilgrims were Separatists and the Puritans were Non-Separatists. The Pilgrims (with people like Williams Bradford, William Brewster, etc.) came first and the Puritans (with people like John Winthrop, John Endicott, Miles Standish, etc.) came later into North America.
So, the Pilgrims came into Massachusetts in order to promote their theocratic religious system and many of them were involved in the genocide of Native Americans. In 1607, the Archbishop of York named Tobias Matthew raided homes and imprisoned religious Separatists. First, the Pilgrims or the Separatists came into the Netherlands, first in Amsterdam and then to Leiden in 1609 in order for them to escape Anglican religious persecution. The congregation in Leiden, Netherlands grew. Many of the children of the congregation adopted the Dutch language and customs. Many of them joined the Dutch army. William Brewster publicly criticized the English Crown and the Anglican Church. He faced death, so the Separatists escaped into America. They left in the Mayflower ship and the Speedwell. The Mayflower Compact was a document created by the Pilgrims which outlined their own form of government or community. The Plymouth Colony was created in 1620 and it lasted until 1691. The Mayflower landed in Cape Cod on November 9, 1620. They went into Plymouth in December 21, 1620. They suffered a great winter. Many colonists suffered scurvy, lack of shelter, and other bad conditions form being on a ship. Many people died. Myles Standish became a military leader.
By March 1621, the Pilgrims met a Native American named Samoset. There was a village called Patuxet. The supreme leader of the region was a Native American Wampanoag man named Massasoit. He was the sachem or chief. The colonists learned of Squanto from Patuxet too. Squanto had been to England and he knew English. Massasoit and Squanto were apprehensive about the Pilgrim ssince many English sailors murdered several of Massasoit’s tribe previously. The Pilgrims also stole corn stores in their landings of Provincetown. Squanto himself was kidnapped by Thomas Hunt in 1614 and spent time in Europe. He returned to New England in 19 acting as a guide to explorer Captain Robert Gorges. Captain Hunt, an English slave trader, arrived at Patuxet. It was common practice for explorers to capture Native Americans, take them to Europe and sell them into slavery for 220 shillings apiece. That practice was described in a 1622 account of happenings entitled "A Declaration of the State of the Colony and Affairs in Virginia," written by Edward Waterhouse. True to the explorer tradition, Hunt kidnapped a number of Wampanoags to sell into slavery. William Fenton describes how Europeans decimated Native American villages in his 1957 work "American Indian and White relations to 1830." From 1615 to 1619 smallpox ran rampant among the Wampanoags and their neighbors to the north. The Wampanoag lost 70 percent of their population to the epidemic and the Massachusetts lost 90 percent. The smallpox was intentionally passed to the Wampanoag, one of the earliest perpetrations of biological warfare. Massasoit and his men had massacred the crew of the ship and had taken in Squanto.
Samoset returned to Plymouth on March 22 with a delegation from Massasoit that included Squanto; Massasoit joined them shortly thereafter. After an exchange of gifts, Massasoit and Governor Carver established a formal treaty of peace. This treaty ensured that each people would not bring harm to the other, that Massasoit would send his allies to make peaceful negotiations with Plymouth, and that they would come to each other's aid in a time of war. There has been debate about the Pilgrims’ Thanksgiving. Scholars believe that the harvest took place in November 1621. Yet, the Pilgrims called their first Thanksgiving feast at 1623.
After the departure of Massasoit and his men, Squanto remained in Plymouth to teach the Pilgrims how to survive in New England, for example using dead fish to fertilize the soil. For the first few years of colonial life, the fur trade (buying furs from Native Americans and selling to Europeans) was the dominant source of income beyond subsistence farming. When Governor Carver died, William Bradford was the new Governor of Plymouth. The Native Americans offered peace treaties with the Pilgrims. Things would change.
Massasoit, Squanto, and several other Wampanoags had been captured by Corbitant, sachem of the Narragansett tribe. A party of ten men, under the leadership of Myles Standish, set out to find and execute Corbitant. While hunting for Corbitant, they learned that Squanto had escaped and Massasoit was back in power. Several Native Americans had been injured by Standish and his men and were offered medical attention in Plymouth. Though they had failed to capture Corbitant, the show of force by Standish had garnered respect for the Pilgrims, and as a result nine of the most powerful sachems in the area, including Massasoit and Corbitant, signed a treaty in September that pledged their loyalty to King James.
Standish is a real scoundrel and murderer. This murderer Myles Standish organized a militia to get into the settlement of Wesagussett. He lured 2 military leaders into a house and Standish plus his men stabbed and killed two unsuspecting Native Americans. Word quickly spread among the Native American tribes of Standish's attack; many Native Americans abandoned their villages and fled the area. As noted by Philbrick: "Standish's raid had irreparably damaged the human ecology of the region...It was some time before a new equilibrium came to the region." Myles Standish was the military leader of the Plymouth Colony.
Pilgrims traded in fur a lot. The power of the Massasoit led Wampanoag grew in the region. The Pilgrims also enslaved black people too. Many settlers blasphemed God by praising the death of Native Americans who had smallpox, which is sick. In a letter to England, Massachusetts Bay colony founder John Winthrop wrote, "But for the natives in these parts, God hath so pursued them, as for 300 miles space the greatest part of them are swept away by smallpox which still continues among them. So as God hath thereby cleared our title to this place, those who remain in these parts, being in all not 50, have put themselves under our protection."
European colonialism continued. The first major war in America among the Pilgrims was the Pequot War of 1637. This was about the dispute over the control of the Connecticut River Valley near Hartford, Connecticut. Dutch fur traders and Plymouth officials wanted territories and land. The British sent an influx of settlers to the area. The English settlers threatened the Pequot Native Americans.
Other confederations in the area, including the Narragansett and Mohegan, who were the traditional enemies of the Pequot, sided with the English. The event that sparked the start of formal hostilities was the capture of a boat and the murder of its captain, John Oldham, in 1636, an event blamed on allies of the Pequots. In April 1637, a raid on a Pequot village by John Endicott led to a retaliatory raid by Pequot warriors on the town of Wethersfield, Connecticut, where some 30 English settlers were killed. This led to a further retaliation, where a raid led by Captain John Underhill and Captain Mason burned a Pequot village to the ground near modern Mystic, Connecticut, killing 300 Pequots. Plymouth Colony had some people who had little to do with the actual fighting in the war.
The 1637 Massacre in Mystic caused at least 700 Native Americans to be murdered by Europeans. Men, women, and children Native Americans were burn alive and their buildings were destroyed. William Bradford or the Governor of Plymouth praised the massacre in sick terms by the following words: “…Those that escaped the fire were slain with the sword; some hewed to pieces, others run through with their rapiers, so that they were quickly dispatched and very few escaped. It was conceived they thus destroyed about 400 at this time. It was a fearful sight to see them thus frying in the fire...horrible was the stink and scent thereof, but the victory seemed a sweet sacrifice, and they gave the prayers thereof to God, who had wrought so wonderfully for them, thus to enclose their enemies in their hands, and give them so speedy a victory over so proud and insulting an enemy."
“This day forth shall be a day of celebration and thanksgiving for subduing the Pequots," read Governor John Winthrop’s proclamation.
You couldn’t make this stuff up. This is real. Later, Pequots prisoners were executed. Pequot women and children were sold into slavery in the West Indies. The Pequot War killed most of the Pequot peoples.
King Philip’s War came about in the late 1600’s. By the end of the conflict, the Wampanoags and their Narragansett allies were almost completely destroyed. King Philip was the nickname of Metacomet or the younger son of Massasoit and the heir to Massasoit's position as sachem of the Pokanoket and supreme leader of the Wampanoag. He became sachem upon the sudden death of his older brother Wamsutta, also known as Alexander, in 1662. King Philip’s War came, because more English colonists came into New England and demanded more land. Native Americans were restricted in where they could live. King Philip didn’t like the loss of land of the Native Americans and he wanted to stop it. The Wampanoag capital was in Mount Hope. The town of Swansea was just a few miles from the capital of Mount Hope.
The proximate cause of the conflict was the death of a praying Native American named John Sassamon in 1675. Sassamon had been an advisor and friend to King Philip; however Sassamon's conversion to Christianity had driven the two apart. Sassamon was murdered. Accused in the murder of Sassamon were some of Philip's most senior lieutenants. A jury of twelve Englishmen and six Praying Native Americans found the Native Americans guilty of murder and sentenced them to death. There is a debate on whether the men were guilty of killing Sassamon or not. King Philip prepared for war. He raided English farms and harmed property. The war continued with Native Americans using guerrilla warfare. The Plymouth leadership mistrusted all Native Americans. The English formed an alliance with the Sakonnet to fight King Philip and his forces. After the Church was given permission to grant amnesty to any captured Native Americans who would agree to join the English side, his force grew immensely. Philip was killed by a Pocasset Native American; the war soon ended as an overwhelming English victory. The Wampanoag chief Metacomet (or King Philip) was shot and killed by an Native American named John Alderman on August 12, 1676. Metacomet's corpse was beheaded, then drawn and quartered. His head was displayed in Plymouth for twenty years. His head was stuck on a pole in Plymouth, where the skull still hung on display 24 years later. Metacom's young son was sent to the West Indies as a slave, along with numerous other Wampanoag and surrounding tribes.
The Following text was taken from Russel Means' autobiography entitled: "Where White Men Fear To Tread." Russel Means is a well know Native American social activist. It discusses the background to the first "Thanksgiving" on American shores:
"The Wampanoag now wanted to remind white America of what had happened after Massasoit's death. Massasoit was succeeded by his son, Metacomet, whom the colonists called "King" Philip. In 1675-1676, to show "gratitude" for what Massasoit's people had done for their fathers and grandfathers, the Pilgrims manufactured an incident as a pretext to justify disarming the Wampanoag.
"The whites went after the Wampanoag with guns, swords, cannons, and torches. Most, including Metacomet, were butchered. His wife and son were sold into slavery in the West Indies. His body was hideously drawn and quartered.
"For twenty-five years afterward, Metacomet's skull was displayed on a pike above the whites' village. The real legacy of the Pilgrim Fathers is treachery. Most Americans today believe that Thanksgiving celebrates a boar harvest, but that is not so.
"By 1970, the Wampanoag had turned up a copy of a Thanksgiving proclamation made by the governor of the colony, the text revealed the ugly truth:
'After a colonial militia had returned from murdering the men, women, and children of an Indian village, the governor proclaimed a holiday and feast to give thanks for the massacre. He encouraged other colonies to do likewise -- in other words, every autumn the crops are in, go kill Indians and celebrate your murders with a feast.'
"The Wampanoag we met at Plymouth came from everywhere in Massachusetts. Like many other eastern nations, theirs had been all but wiped out. The survivors found refuge in other Indian nations that had not succumbed to European diseases or to violence. The Wampanoag went into hiding or joined the Six Nations or found homes among the Delaware Shawnee nations, to name a few. Some also sought refuge in one of the two hundred eastern-seaboard nations that were later exterminated.
"Nothing remains of those nations but their names, and even some of those have been lost. Other Wampanoag, who couldn't reach another Indian nation, survived by intermarriage with black slaves or freedmen. It is hard to imagine a life terrible enough that people would choose instead, with all their progeny, to become slaves, but that is exactly what some Indians did..." (end of the book source).
The King Philip's war decreased the Native American population in New England massively. The Glorious Revolution of 1689 (which caused a limited monarchy in the UK after James I fled to France) represented the beginning of the end of the Plymouth Colony. The last official meeting of the Court occurred on June 8, 1692. The legacy of American Thanksgiving is filled with bloodshed, conflict, and controversy. Afterwards, more Europeans colonists would come into America to enact genocide of Native Americans, slavery, and other evils. America, itself, was created on the blood of black people and Native Americans. Many of the leaders of the American Revolutionary War (both the American colonists and the British redcoats) owned slaves. Also, Scholarship like Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz's "Indigenous People's History of the United States" is ignored in academia and popular culture. The early English colonizers and capitalists wanted to go into America to promote the myth of white supremacy and to expand their resources. Today, many Native Americans suffer various forms of oppression like: disease, homelessness, dilapidated and vermin-infested housing, substance abuse, inadequate education, unemployment, and police brutality. One of their freedom fighters, Leonard Peltier has languished as a political prisoner for nearly 30 years; framed in events provoked by an assault on Native people by the FBI. So, we desire true liberation.
What we can do to honor the truth is to help others. We have every right and justification to work in charities, to help our neighbors, to pray, to defend the victims of police brutality, to feed the hungry, to do actions to help those who are less fortunate, and to do so many other forms of almsgiving during this time of the year. That is the right thing to do and it makes the Creator and our ancestors happy. We should never sugarcoat what the past was since we learn the past in order for us to create a better present and future. We should be thankful of the blessings that we do have and appreciate the sacrifices of our ancestors. So, you know the truth now. It is our responsibility to do something about it and that is to use activism in fighting against imperialism, racism, discrimination, sexism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, classism, and all evils of the world. We want all humans to be liberated and we want the environment to improve too. We desire justice. With being said, I am thankful of many things. I am thankful of God for giving my life. I am thankful of family and friends who are great human beings. Also, I am thankful of the opportunity to show people the truth about many subjects like history, sociology, politics, anthropology, technology, culture, science, mathematics, and other aspects of the Universe. The truth will remain forever.