By Damien Knight
(Originally written Nov 2016)
Every year someone asks what my family is doing for Thanksgiving. While I do in fact celebrate Thanksgiving I find the origin taught to us as children horrific. When we were kids, we were told Thanksgiving was a time where the Pilgrims and Natives met and held a party celebrating shared success. The truth is, when Pilgrims came to American shores many did not survive the boat ride. Many more starved to death over their first winter.
The Pilgrims were not the first settlers from Europe at this point. Squanto, of the Wampanoag tribe, spoke English. He was the one to contact the Pilgrims. The Wampanoag were not just being kind ‘savages’ they were wary. Still they taught the Pilgrims how to grow food and Thanksgiving came and they met not to celebrate shared success but to sign a treaty, a treaty giving Pilgrims the land they lived on.
What did the Natives get in return? Smallpox, betrayal, whitewashing of American history? All of that. So while yes I celebrate with my parents I have not myself cooked a Thanksgiving turkey. My own children are Abenaki blood as is my spouse and I feel celebrating the genocide of their people is an insult. I’ll be thankful that more and more people are learning the truth. I will be thankful for my family and my kids. I am not proud of our history, but I hope that we learn from it and not repeat it.