Freedom Blog

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving-Who Do We Thank?

No Limits | The Freedom Coach

Thanksgiving-Who Do We Thank?

Written by Steven Griggs |

Today is our national day of Thanksgiving. This holiday originated in 1621 as a day of thanksgiving celebrated by the Pilgrims for their survival to that point in Plymouth. They were thanking God for their deliverance and the harvesting of a good maize crop, but in truth they should have thanked the Wampanoag tribe, particularly Tisquantum and Massasoit, the chief, for without their help they would have starved.

When they first arrived in Plymouth, there were no villages left on the coastal areas as all the local tribes had died from disease stemming from the first contact with Europeans in 1618. In fact the colony of Plymouth was built on the old site of Patuxet, Tisquantum’s old village, which was empty as everyone, including all his relatives, had perished.

According to his excellent book “1491, New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus”, by Charles C. Mann, in describing the New England coast- “What had once been a busy line of communities was now a mass of tumbledown homes and untended fields over run by blackberries” and... “Scattered among the houses and fields were skeletons bleached by the sun”.1

One of the main reasons the colonists survived that first year in 1620 (51 out of 102 had died) was that they found stores of corn and other items:  “they found a deserted Indian habitation… dug open burial sites and ransacked homes, looking for underground stashes of food”.1

And they thanked God- “And sure it was God’s providence that we found this corn… for else we know not how we should have done”.1

They also thanked God for the empty landscape and lack of any population to oppose them- ‘to the good hand of God”… which “favored our beginning” by… “sweeping away the great multitudes of the natives” …..“that he might make room for us”.1

I’m not saying it’s wrong to celebrate Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving has really lost any real religious connection and has actually evolved into a generic family holiday, a great reason to have families get together. It has also been a good shot in the arm for retailers once they created Black Friday….

It is that we need to remember the real context of this holiday and remember that America was not a vacant, virginal land waiting for us but a home to many millions of Native Americans who had lived here for some 20,000 years or more.

History is written by the victors, but let’s at least acknowledge those ancient Americans and thank them for the corn, tobacco, squash, potatoes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, chili peppers, cashews, avocados, strawberries, pineapples, chocolate and vanilla that they have given the world.

A moment of silent thank you would suffice.

1. 1491, New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus”, by Charles C. Mann, Alfred E. Knopf, New York, 2005