thanksgiving

Columnist Chloe Gough argues it's important to remember the real history of Thanksgiving instead of the whitewashed story often taught.

The warmth and coziness of a freshly lit candle and heat from the oven greet me every Thanksgiving when I walk out of my room and into the kitchen. The freshly baked turkey, the sweet cinnamon lingering from a freshly made dessert and the plethora of sides being a close second.

All year long, I look forward to this moment — a time I get to spend with my family and reflect on the things I have to be grateful for. 

However, I’ve always had a problem with the narrative surrounding the holiday I love so much — the one where the Native Americans had a great feast with the Pilgrims and lived peacefully side-by-side with them. It’s a narrative covered with lies just waiting to be rinsed by truth. 

What I was taught, and what I’m assuming many others were taught as well, was that the Christopher Columbus arrived in America, while looking for South Asian shores, came into contact with a few folks he mistakingly gave the name “Indians.” The Indians supposedly taught them how to live on the land and then had a feast. Afterward, the Indians were said to have just disappeared, alluding to the idea that the Indians gave their land over to the newcomers

A story that perfectly reflects the English’s belief in Manifest Destiny

Of course, many important details are twisted and incorrect. Better yet, most are just simply left out — the true story being one of bloodshed, privilege and superiority. 

Among the many fallacies in the story of Thanksgiving, the ones I have the biggest issues with is the exaggeration of an alliance between the Natives and the English. The main issue I have with this story, however, is that we are continuing to teach a story of lies today.

As a kid, I always assumed they were just that: Indians — as new a group of people as the land was to the English. In reality, the Native Americans had built up at least 12,000 years of history. They weren’t “Indians.” They were distinctive groups of deeply rooted people that had a strong hold of their territory. 

I can’t imagine they would choose to give up thousands of years of history and culture to a group of people they didn’t know. 

Instead, the battle over Plymouth, the land owned by the Wampanoag tribe, led to bloodshed and the loss of many Native lives during King Philip's War, which claimed thousands of native and colonists' lives.

The narrative of the Thanksgiving feast was never one meant to be true. It was meant to whitewash history and ignore the truth — what we call a "PR stunt" today.

This isn’t the only time in American history where stories are changed and edited to follow a certain agenda. 

One example is the “anti-critical race theory.” These laws ban many lessons from being taught because of the fear white people will look bad. They also make it near impossible for teachers to explain the hard truths of a years-long reign of racism. 

I will always love Thanksgiving and consider it one of my favorite holidays. However, I will only love it for the concept of giving thanks and being with those I love. I will never love it for the narrative it perpetrates. 

I encourage everyone to educate themselves on the true story of Thanksgiving. Maybe even cut yourself a piece of pumpkin pie while doing so.