Since it's November, annual reminder: Thanksgiving is a problematic holiday, "celebrates a myth of colonialism and white proprietorship of the U.S."

KSweeley

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Oct 25, 2017
4,267
Baltimore, Maryland, USA
Why I will NOT be saying or wishing to anyone "Happy Thanksgiving".

This highly educational op-ed I have discovered regarding the dark history that surrounds this holiday and why celebrating it is problematic will explain why.

This article is written by a Native American who is attempting to educate everyone about why Thanksgiving is problematic within Native American culture, if you agree with this effort, please share this widely, the more who learn why Thanksgiving is problematic, the better:

https://www.bustle.com/p/thanksgiving-promotes-whitewashed-history-so-i-organized-truthsgiving-instead-13154470

In this op-ed, Christine Nobiss, MA (Religious Studies), Plains Cree/Saulteaux of the George Gordon First Nation and Decolonizer with Seeding Sovereignty, explains why she organized Truthsgiving in resistance to Thanksgiving. Her work with Seeding Sovereignty is focused on dismantling colonial-imperialist institutions, and replacing them with Indigenous practices created in synchronicity with this land. To learn more about and to support her work, please visit www.seedingsovereignty.org.

There are many settler colonial mythologies about Native Americans. These widely held but false beliefs are rooted in deeply entrenched discriminatory attitudes and behaviors that are perpetuated by institutionalized racism. One of the most celebrated mythologies is the holiday of Thanksgiving, which is believed, since 1621, to be a mutually sanctioned gathering of “Indians” and Pilgrims. The truth is far from the mythos of popular imagination. The real story is one where settler vigilantes unyieldingly pushed themselves into Native American homelands, and forced an uneasy gathering upon the locals.

In the words of Wamsutta Frank James, Wampanoag, “the Pilgrims had hardly explored the shores of Cape Cod four days before they had robbed the graves of my ancestors, and stolen their corn, wheat, and beans.” These words came from his 1970 Thanksgiving Day speech, which he wrote for the annual celebration of the landing of the Pilgrims held every year in Plymouth, Massachusetts. However, this speech was never presented; the organizers of the celebration reportedly asked to see his speech ahead of time, according to James' obituary in the Boston Globe, and allegedly asked him to rewrite it on the basis that his words were not aligned with the popular mythology. He instead declared Thanksgiving a National Day of Mourning.

Thanksgiving is the third in a line of problematic holidays of the fall season — holidays that may seem harmless, but that actually have a grave effect on the well-being of Native Americans. The other two are Columbus Day and Halloween. From the second Monday of October, to the fourth Thursday in November, Native Americans are hammered with a barrage of racially offensive, culturally appropriative, and historically inaccurate inculcations. The list is extensive — Columbus day parades, statues, speeches and sales, offensive Halloween costumes, Pilgrim and Indian paraphernalia, and of course, all the parties, events, and classroom activities that even our children are subject to. All of which is an attempt to hide the unpleasant truths about this country’s real history.


Indigenous organizers are making headway on decolonizing Columbus day by replacing it with Indigenous Peoples' day, and are also exposing the truth about derogatory Halloween costumes that perpetuate dangerous colonial violence. However, Thanksgiving is so deeply cherished by American society that protests and alternative celebrations have made little impact.

It’s past time to honor the Indigenous resistance, tell our story as it really happened, and undo romanticized notions of the holiday that have long suppressed our perspective. As an Indigenous decolonizer, I call this time of year the Season of Resistance. With Thanksgiving fast approaching, I ask you to please take the time to educate your peers about Thanksgiving's real history; to support Native people as they resist the narrative of the holiday; and to organize or host alternatives to this holiday.

An essential part of decolonizing Thanksgiving is to start educating our children with the authentic history of this country. A book that re-examines basic “truths” about Thanksgiving in an educational context is Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years. Considering that much of the Thanksgiving mythology is based on sharing food, it is ideal to discuss the importance of Indigenous first foods or food sovereignty with our children as well. The book Four Seasons of Corn: A Winnebago Tradition discusses the traditional process of growing and harvesting corn, de-commercializing what we eat, and promoting culturally appropriate foods and agricultural systems of North America. Decolonizing Thanksgiving: A Toolkit for Combatting Racism in Schools is a quick read where more resources are listed; it even has sample letters that can be sent to your children’s school concerning problematic Thanksgiving activities.


Other important Thanksgiving decolonization tactics include participating in Indigenous-led events. In 1970, the National Day of Mourning was instituted by James, the United American Indians of New England, and the local Wampanoag community as a resistance to Thanksgiving. This alternative holiday is held at Plymouth Rock and has occurred annually for almost 50 years. The National Day of Mourning also coincides with an event on the other side of the country that takes place on Alcatraz Island (an important Native American site). Unthanksgiving Day, also known as The Indigenous Peoples Sunrise Ceremony, is a large cultural event that has been held annually since 1975 and commemorates the Alcatraz-Red Power Movement occupation of 1969. There are in fact many anti-Thanksgiving events that occur around the country each year — one of which I have co-organized, called Truthsgiving.

Generations of American values are responsible for institutionalizing the Thanksgiving mythology, but ultimately, change can occur as individuals awaken to the reality that their Thanksgiving meals celebrate a violent, whitewashed history, and begin the process of truth-telling, healing and reconciliation.
Here's another article explaining the true history of Thanksgiving:

https://www.businessinsider.com/history-of-thanksgiving-2017-11

The true story behind Thanksgiving is a bloody struggle that decimated the population and ended with a head on a stick

Most American schoolchildren grow up with the story of how the English pilgrims and Native Americans came together for the first Thanksgiving in Plymouth.

In reality, peace didn't last between the English settlers and their one-time Wampanoag allies.

The two became embroiled in a devastating war just a generation after the famous feast.

American schoolchildren are usually taught the tradition dates back to the pilgrims, English religious dissenters who helped to establish the Plymouth Colony in present-day Massachusetts in 1620.


As the story goes, friendly local Native Americans swooped in to teach the struggling colonists how to survive in the New World. Then everyone got together to celebrate with a feast in 1621. Attendees included at least 90 men from the Wampanoag tribe and the 50 or so surviving Mayflower passengers, according to TIME. The bash lasted three days and featured a menu including deer, fowl, and corn, according to Smithsonian Magazine.

In reality, Thanksgiving feasts predate Plymouth. You'll even find a number of localities have vied to claim the first Thanksgiving for themselves.

Settlers in Berkeley Hundred in Virginia decided to celebrate their arrival with an annual Thanksgiving back in 1619, according to The Virginian-Pilot— although The Washingtonian reported the meal was probably little more than some oysters and ham thrown together. And decades before that, Spanish settlers and members of the Seloy tribe broke bread with salted pork, garbanzo beans, and a Mass in 1565 Florida, according to the National Parks Service.

Our modern definition of Thanksgiving revolves around eating turkey, but in past centuries it was more of an occasion for religious observance. The storied 1621 Plymouth festivities live on in popular memory, but the pilgrims themselves would have likely considered their sober 1623 day of prayer the first true "Thanksgiving," according to the blog the History of Massachusetts. Others pinpoint 1637 as the true origin of Thanksgiving, owing to the fact Massachusetts colony governor John Winthrop declared a day of thanks-giving to celebrate colonial soldiers who had just slaughtered 700 Pequot men, women, and children in what is now Mystic, Connecticut.

Either way, the popular telling of the initial harvest festival is what lived on, thanks to Abraham Lincoln.

The enduring holiday has also nearly erased from our collective memory what happened between the Wampanoag and the English a generation later.

Massosoit, the sachem or paramount chief of the Wampanoag, proved to be a crucial ally to the English settlers in the years following the establishment of Plymouth. He set up an exclusive trade pact with the newcomers, and allied with them against the French and other local tribes like the Narragansetts and Massachusetts.

However, the alliance became strained overtime.

Thousands of English colonists poured into the region throughout the 17th century. According to "Historic Contact: Indian People and Colonists in Today's Northeastern United States," authorities in Plymouth began asserting control over "most aspects of Wampanoag life," as settlers increasingly ate up more land. The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History estimated disease had already reduced the Native American population in New England by as much as 90% from 1616 to 1619, and indigenous people continued to die from what the colonists called "Indian fever."


By the time Massasoit's son Metacomet — known to the English as "King Philip" — inherited leadership, relations had frayed. King Phillip's War was sparked when several of Metacomet's men were executed for the murder of Punkapoag interpreter and Christian convert John Sassamon.

Wampanoag warriors responded by embarking on a series of raids, and the New England Confederation of Colonies declared war in 1675. The initially neutral Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations was ultimately dragged into the fighting, as were other nearby tribes like the Narragansetts.

The war was bloody and devastating.

Springfield, Massachusetts was burned to the ground. The Wampanoag abducted colonists for ransom. English forces attacked the Narragansetts on a bitter, frozen swamp for harboring fleeing Wampanoag. Six hundred Narragansetts were killed, and the tribe's winter stores were ruined, according to Atlas Obscura. Colonists in far flung settlements relocated to more fortified areas while the Wampanoag and allied tribes were forced to flee their villages.

In an article published in The Historical Journal of Massachusetts, Montclair State University professor Robert E. Cray Jr. said the war's ultimate death toll could have been as high as 30% of the English population and half of the Native Americans in New England.

The war was just one of a series of brutal but dimly remembered early colonial wars between Native Americans and colonists that occurred in New England, New York, and Virginia.
And here's a 2019 book whose description states that Thanksgiving is "a holiday which celebrates a myth of colonialism and white proprietorship of the United States":


Ahead of the 400th anniversary of the first Thanksgiving, a new look at the Plymouth colony's founding events, told for the first time with Wampanoag people at the heart of the story.

In March 1621, when Plymouth's survival was hanging in the balance, the Wampanoag sachem (or chief), Ousamequin (Massasoit), and Plymouth's governor, John Carver, declared their people's friendship for each other and a commitment to mutual defense. Later that autumn, the English gathered their first successful harvest and lifted the specter of starvation. Ousamequin and 90 of his men then visited Plymouth for the “First Thanksgiving.” The treaty remained operative until King Philip's War in 1675, when 50 years of uneasy peace between the two parties would come to an end.

400 years after that famous meal, historian David J. Silverman sheds profound new light on the events that led to the creation, and bloody dissolution, of this alliance. Focusing on the Wampanoag Indians, Silverman deepens the narrative to consider tensions that developed well before 1620 and lasted long after the devastating war-tracing the Wampanoags' ongoing struggle for self-determination up to this very day.

This unsettling history reveals why some modern Native people hold a Day of Mourning on Thanksgiving, a holiday which celebrates a myth of colonialism and white proprietorship of the United States. This Land is Their Land shows that it is time to rethink how we, as a pluralistic nation, tell the history of Thanksgiving.
EDIT: I created this thread to try to educate people about the true history of Thanksgiving, a history that is NOT widely taught in schools. ALSO I created this thread to raise awareness that the history of Thanksgiving has been whitewashed and the Native Americans are still being oppressed in the 21st Century.
 
Last edited:
Oct 27, 2017
15,500
I don't know anyone who actually uses Thanksgiving for any other reason than to eat together with friends/family and tolerate turkey for a meal
 

Feep

Lead Designer, Iridium Studios
Verified
Oct 25, 2017
1,723
Halloween, too? Ehhhh. I know specific Native American appropriation tends to crop up around the holiday, but I wouldn't call the holiday itself problematic.
 

Yaboosh

Member
Oct 25, 2017
6,652
I don't know anyone who actually uses Thanksgiving for any other reason than to eat together with friends/family and tolerate turkey for a meal
And give thanks for the wonderful people and circumstances in your life.

More awareness of the history and current conditions of native Americans? Yes yes yes!

Get rid of Thanksgiving? no no no!
 

Josh5890

The Fallen
Oct 25, 2017
2,600
I don't know anyone who actually uses Thanksgiving for any other reason than to eat together with friends/family and tolerate turkey for a meal
This. Thanksgiving today is about getting together with family, be thankful for what we have, watching football, and eating stuffing.

Like seriously, stuffing is the best damn thing at Thanksgiving.
 
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KSweeley

KSweeley

Community Resettler
Member
Oct 25, 2017
4,267
Baltimore, Maryland, USA
This is why I only celebrate Black Friday now.
The name "Black Friday" was created by the Philadelphia Police:


The first mentions of Black Friday as we know it are said to have occurred around the 1950s or ’60s in Philadelphia, coined by police who dreaded the day.
“The Philadelphia Police Department used the term to describe the traffic jams and intense crowding of the downtown retail stores,” said David Zyla, an Emmy-winning stylist and author of “How to Win at Shopping.” He noted that one of the first uses of the term in print appeared in an ad in a 1966 issue of The American Philatelist, a magazine for stamp collectors.
An archived excerpt of this ad appears in a thread on The Linguist List, an online forum operated by the Indiana University Department of Linguistics:
“Black Friday” is the name which the Philadelphia Police Department has given to the Friday following Thanksgiving Day. It is not a term of endearment to them. “Black Friday” officially opens the Christmas shopping season in center city, and it usually brings massive traffic jams and over-crowded sidewalks as the downtown stores are mobbed from opening to closing.
 

Aaronrules380

Avenger
Oct 25, 2017
10,817
I mean I think the origins of the holiday are pretty meaningless to everyone, even more so than how tons of atheists and non christians celebrate Christmas nowadays
 

NexusCell

Member
Nov 2, 2017
162
I mean, I feel the modern celebration is so ingrained in American culture that the historical origin doesn't really play much of a role here. My family celebrates Thanksgiving as a time to get together, not the celebrate pilgrims. As much as the origin of the "First Thanksgiving" is based on a historical lie, the modern practice of the holiday bears little resemblance. Don't see the harm in letting people know the correct origin, but I personally like having a federal holiday in November.

Also, that part of Halloween being offensive to Native Americans can be extended to any culture. It's not just Native Americans.
 

Josh5890

The Fallen
Oct 25, 2017
2,600
Also, we don't need to give employers in this country any more reason to take away another paid holiday from the calendar.
 

Bjomesphat

Member
Nov 5, 2017
483
Uh huh. It's like saying everyone that celebrates Christmas is celebrating the birth of Christ.

Things evolve. Meaning and intention changes.
 

InsaneTiger

Avenger
Oct 25, 2017
4,477
I mean, I feel the modern celebration is so ingrained in American culture that the historical origin doesn't really play much of a role here. My family celebrates Thanksgiving as a time to get together, not the celebrate pilgrims. As much as the origin of the "First Thanksgiving" is based on a historical lie, the modern practice of the holiday bears little resemblance. Don't see the harm in letting people know the correct origin, but I personally like having a federal holiday in November.

Also, that part of Halloween being offensive to Native Americans can be extended to any culture. It's not just Native Americans.
This. It’s just a time to get together and be thankful we only have to see them once or twice a year.
 

Somnid

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,791
All holidays are built on top of cultural celebration which necessarily do not account for other cultures who may have other viewpoints. They may be entirely artificial and experience heavy cultural drift (unless you want to say new PlayStations are celebrating the birth of Christ). Really the point of it all is to provide cultural touch points and timemarkers. Scrutinizing the mythos in itself doesn't seem sufficient as Thanksgiving is really just a harvest festival with a story later tacked on.
 

Milo Rambaldi

Member
Nov 11, 2017
4,039
Florida
I have never once celebrated Thanksgiving and gone "and thank you Pilgrims for being huge dicks."

As everyone has said: it's a day to remember to be thankful for what you have and the things that bring joy to your life.

Or for you to scroll through your Facebook feed and see your contrarian friends who post things like "There's nothing to be thankful for because MY LIFE IS MISERABLE" and roll your eyes because everything has to be about them 100% of the time.
 

DrewFu

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Apr 19, 2018
7,762
This is ridiculous. Nobody celebrates Thanksgiving for anything other than time with with family and eating.
 

Brinbe

Avenger
Oct 25, 2017
18,237
Terana
i call your holiday hellday

i don't think there's anything wrong with highlighting the bullshit that transpired. no one really expects it to just go away.
 

Servbot24

The Fallen
Oct 25, 2017
21,043
Tbh I haven't thought about Thanksgiving being associated with Columbus since I was in grade school.

Can't wait for my mashed potatoes and apple pie! :D
 

Mulciber

Member
Aug 22, 2018
4,732
I don't know anyone who actually uses Thanksgiving for any other reason than to eat together with friends/family and tolerate turkey for a meal
That's something that confuses me about Thanksgiving, too. I'm trying to imagine telling my parents (or my nieces and nephews), why I would be refusing to come to Thanksgiving this year. Everything in this article has nothing to do with what we all use our day off work for.

For that matter, my parents know I am 100% irreligious and are happy to have me home to see them for Christmas. I don't even think the word "Jesus" came out of my mouth last year when I was home for Christmas. In addition to that, I used to get together with two friends of mine who are atheist and we'd have a "Christmas." We enjoyed our time together, ate, and exchanged gift. Nobody in the room even believed in god, much less Christianity.
 

Violence Jack

Member
Oct 25, 2017
10,803
If you've taken a holiday that's problematic and turned it into a day for gathering with family and friends while giving thanks for the blessings in your life, I don't see how that's a bad thing.

And Native Americans aren't the only one who have to deal with racially insensitive costumes every Halloween. Just take a look every year around Halloween to find some idiots painting their faces black like its no big thing and posting on social media. Doesn't mean I should stop celebrating my favorite holiday in which I take Halloween as an opportunity to give and volunteer for various charities.
 

Volimar

volunteer forum janitor
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Oct 25, 2017
11,762
Gonna have more trouble with Thanksgiving I think. We Americans aren't going to lightly give up an excuse to overeat. Rebrand!
 
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KSweeley

KSweeley

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Oct 25, 2017
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Baltimore, Maryland, USA
I made this thread in an attempt to educate people about the actual history surrounding Thanksgiving, this history is NOT the history that was taught to people in schools:

The true story behind Thanksgiving is a bloody struggle that decimated the population and ended with a head on a stick

Most American schoolchildren grow up with the story of how the English pilgrims and Native Americans came together for the first Thanksgiving in Plymouth.

In reality, peace didn't last between the English settlers and their one-time Wampanoag allies.

The two became embroiled in a devastating war just a generation after the famous feast.
 

TheGhost

Member
Oct 25, 2017
15,326
Long Island
I don’t remember what they taught us in school.
Thanksgiving is for family and friends to get together for me. Be thankful for our health and having everyone at that table(s) in our lives etc etc.

It use to be the start of the Christmas season but I’ve been kicking that off since November 1st for the last few years.
 
Oct 27, 2017
15,500
I made this thread in an attempt to educate people about the actual history surrounding Thanksgiving, this history is NOT the history that was taught to people in schools:
I'm not saying it's not worth educating people (although on this board you're probably preaching to the choir since Americans here are probably aware of the sordid history between colonists and native americans), I'm just saying the current holiday is so divorced from its whitewashed origins, I'm not sure if I'd consider it a "problematic" holiday so much as it's origins being problematic. I doubt anyone is actually thanking the pilgrims and shit (well certainly not my family, but we also aren't from the US)
 

DrewFu

Member
Apr 19, 2018
7,762
I made this thread in an attempt to educate people about the actual history surrounding Thanksgiving, this history is NOT the history that was taught to people in schools:
The problem with this thread, is there is nothing problematic about Thanksgiving. That's absurd. As for Thanksgiving's origins, while it's good information to have, it isn't really relevant to the holiday today. It's like calling Christmas a religious holiday.
 
Oct 25, 2017
12,750
No,
The Pilgrim and Native American angle can and probably will get phased out eventually but the holiday in general is too big to just end and is almost entirely irrelevant to the background/reasoning.

For almost anyone I know, Thanksgiving is almost a bigger family thing than Christmas beyond the gift element.
 
Jun 17, 2019
254
I get the issue of the Halloween Costumes, but come on, there are thanksgivings celebrated all over the world though.

Canada held it long before America did in 1578, you have the Chinese Festival of the changing seasons that is on the 15th day of the eight month of the lunar calander that is a harvest festival. Germany has the Erntedankfest in October, Grenada has a celebration on October 25th, Japan has one dated back over 2000 years called the Kinrō Kansha no Hi, which is Labor Thanksgiving and is a celebration of the rice harvest. Norfolk island has a Thanksgiving, and South Korea has Chuseok Day, while Viatnam has it around the same time as China and Liberia has their own version of it.

So I honestly think that the holiday has way to many connections to the harvest idea from other countries that it really shouldn't be done away with. If you have to, change it's meaning, or chang aspects of the idea of it. I mean, most people see it as a day to be with family and friends and also see it as a way to bridge a gap between differnt people.

I get the Columbus thing, but for goodness sake, can we please let some of these holidays stand that are non secular. Or else all you're going to have left is the holidays that are from christianity.
 

Mewshuji

Member
Nov 11, 2017
3,621
Hm, not following the idea that Halloween itself is problematic because assholes choose to brownface or colonialistically appropriate significant parts of marginalized cultures as costumes. Wouldn't the response be don't wear Native American spiritual objects as a costume if you're not Native American?

I'm definitely not against not celebrating Thanksgiving any longer and shifting the big feast to Christmas, or ensuring that Thanksgiving is recognized as a harvest festival, rather than some sort of stupid provably false myth that white colonists in any way, shape, or form treated Native Americans fairly.
 

Hasseigaku

Member
Oct 30, 2017
1,465
You guys are lying to yourselves if you think that Thanksgiving has been totally divorced from the mythology of the First Thanksgiving story. My library just added a whole bunch of books exactly on this topic, and schoolkids still learn the mythological story.

People are still all about the Pilgrims and don't want to know the truth of the story or think about its implications. People want to shove their proverbial heads into the mashed potatoes and eat and not think about it otherwise.
 

Big_Blue

Member
Dec 12, 2017
1,926
I think it's OK to acknowledge how Thanksgiving started and still celebrate it for what it means and stands for today.
 

sn00zer

Member
Feb 28, 2018
1,476
I agree the narrative around it should be changed. That said I love the getting together to eat with friends and family and being thankful for what we have motif.
 

muteKi

Member
Oct 22, 2018
11,071
a sunken pirate ship
I've always just seen it as a generic celebration of the yearly harvest.
As far as I'm concerned, the "first thanksgiving" was celebrated not in Plymouth or surrounding area, but in 1863, despite the efforts of slaveowners to drive the nation apart. While I find Lincoln's proclamation to be overly prosaic (and religious), the reason, as far as I am concerned, that the holiday is at all celebrated comes down to a celebration of war against tyranny, rather than in the service of genocide.

This is not to condemn those arguing against the holiday -- the mainstream interpretation is inseparable from the erasure of genocide.
 

Anustart

9 Million Scovilles
Banned
Nov 12, 2017
2,966
Wait wait wait. I thought the birth and growth of our country was on the back of fun, friendship and prosperity?
 

Baji Boxer

Member
Oct 27, 2017
6,102
I think a lot of people are underestimating how many people theme something around the happy Pilgrim mythology. It's even reinforced through cartoon specials such as Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. It's basically along the lines of engrained societal Holocaust denial.

And it's not just about that, but also the lack of remembrance of the horrors surounding the day.