Turkey With a Side of Complicated: The History of Thanksgiving


Turkey With a Side of Complicated: The History of Thanksgiving 

By: Elise Halsema

To countless Americans, Thanksgiving is a holiday where you rejoice with your whole family, stuff yourself full of turkey and tasty pumpkin pie, and commemorate the day where the pilgrims and the Native Americans enjoyed a harvest feast together. We all know the fable of the Wampanoag Native Americans graciously helping the Pilgrims of Plymouth through the harsh, cold New England winter and teaching them to grow crops. That year, in 1621, a great festival was created between the two groups: a story of interracial peace and harmony. 

However, the part of the story that everyone seems to leave out is that the unity did not last long. The American colonies’ population grew and the Native Americans lost their land. Their lives and society were perpetually harmed once the English arrived in Plymouth. After the Wampanoag’s empathy and charity, they received oppression and massacre. Crucial events in American history, like the Pequot Massacre of 1636 and the beheading of Wampanoag leader Metacom, followed the first Thanksgiving marking brutal victories for the English. 

Today, Thanksgiving is celebrated as a very happy holiday where we give thanks to good health and good people, but it has a complicated history that everyone should acknowledge. November is not only a month to give thanks to the people you love, but it is National Native American History Month. Native Americans had a pivotal role in shaping this country’s history and heritage. It is a perfect time to learn and expand your knowledge of Native American history. Give thanks for the wonders of this country by acknowledging the suffering that comes with it.