The Tragedy Behind Thanksgiving

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Vy Thai, Entertainment Writer

Annually celebrated in the United States and Canada, Thanksgiving is known as a warm and fuzzy holiday that is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of each November where families gather to enjoy a feast together. This holiday commemorates pilgrims who settled in Plymouth as well as the Wampanoag (waam-puh-now-ag) people who came together to have a feast from their first harvest. Although this perspective of the Plymouth pilgrims seems positive, the other perspective from the Native Americans, isn’t. 

When the pilgrims first ever came to the Americas, known as the New World, they brought diseases that killed off 90% of Native Americans according to the Public Broadcasting Service. They came on a boat called the Mayflower where they settled in what is known as Massachusetts today. Their goal was to “plant the first colony,” according to the National Constitution Center, which resonates with their harvest.

The spot where they settled gave the pilgrims access to the Native American villages. The Wampanoag people came in touch with the pilgrims and welcomed them with open arms. The Wampanoag people taught the pilgrims how to plant, cultivate crops, hunt, and eventually harvest. Even with the friendly spirit of the Wampanoag people, the pilgrims became greedy.

The pilgrims stole the indigenous people’s land and murdered a countless number of them. The pilgrims started to steal food from the Native Americans as well as kidnap them to enslave them. The pilgrims sold the slaves for profit in the European slave trade.

“With the ugly history in reference to our Native ancestors, I don’t acknowledge the idea of Pilgrims and Indians. It would be great if the education system used it as an opportunity to teach the real history of what happened,” stated an individual of Native American descent that lives in Arlee, Montana. 

Several centuries later, there is still tension between the Europeans who colonized the Americas and the Native Americans who cultivated America at the start. Massacres, battles, and discrimination against Native Americans became even more normalized. Less than a century before now, Native Americans have only been granted citizenship and the right to vote, if they were born in the United States. 

The harvest and feast should not be the only event that is remembered on Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving should also be a holiday to commemorate the Native Americans and indigenous people whose lives were lost in order to produce the feast. It should be a day to honor the Native Americans.