I had to google the history of thanksgiving before I started. Being in a traditional Chinese family gave me the illusion that thanksgiving, like Halloween, was just another American holiday that lost its true tradition, smothered by excessive amounts of food and gifts. As of November 29th I had already received more than my fair share of “holiday presents”, and I hardly thought twice about it. Sure, I was thankful too my parents, who raised and fed me my entire life, but my thankfulness was never expressed with more than simply saying thank you.
When my mom first presented this prompt to me, I had only accepted it as a task that needed to be accomplished, a means of giving back for her gifts. And so I researched the first thanksgiving dinner of Plymouth. The article was long and teeming with facts, but here is what I picked up: The native Americans welcomed the Puritan pilgrims who were on the brink of extinction with open arms, but only a mere twenty years later, the white men burned and pillaged Indian villages for slaves and religious totalitarian rule. Think about it. Not only did the founders of the Americans practice genocide and slavery, they were thankful that the “savages” were properly chased out or killed. In the beginning, the very first year, maybe there was no tension. English and Indian feasted beneath the same roof, honoring the great spirit and God alike. Then came the betrayal and denouncement of native gods. The massacres soon started. Men and women who have shared meat and mead started kicking each other’s heads across the streets. Sounds like something out of an Orwell novel, doesn’t it?
Today’s generation has been brainwashed with the idea of Indians and Pilgrims, all with the righteousness and good will of holy men. How will we explain to them about the reservations, or the near extermination of an entire race? The truth is, no one wants to remember what happened so long ago. What we want to remember is the feast where everyone was friendly and no bad feelings were shown. We wanted this generation to forget about the wrongs we did upon the Indians. So next time you cut open a thanksgiving turkey, unwrap a Christmas gift, or even raise an American flag, remember that the land of the free and the home of the brave was built upon the grief, sickness, and death of the New England Indians.