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The Truth About Turkey Day

Kaitlyn Bross

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Americans love the notion that Thanksgiving began with a bunch of friendly pilgrims and Native Americans stuffing their faces with turkey. But what if the first Thanksgiving isn’t all what we were taught? The truth about Thanksgiving is that newcomers and natives weren’t friendly, November in the north is way too cold for crops, and there was no turkey in sight. So how did the Thanksgiving we know today begin?

All of our grade school teachers taught us about the great gathering and feast of Thanksgiving that created a bond lasting for generations. We all dressed up as pilgrims and natives in the first grade, making hand turkeys and wearing feathers on our heads. This is how the story is traditionally told. You know, brave pilgrims came to America to find religious freedom, and the Indians welcomed them with a wonderful feast, creating a peaceful foundation of our great nation. Well, Plymouth Rock may be the foundation of the USA we know today, but it was the destruction of the indigenous people.

Americans view the arrival of the Mayflower as the beginning of a great nation. However, the Native Americans mark this moment as the beginning of their downfall. From the moment the pilgrims sailed to Plymouth Rock, the death rates of indigenous people in the north skyrocketed. Diseases ran rampant throughout the tribes, and wars between other natives and the new pilgrims took the lives of many. This is just a reminder that the whole nation isn’t celebrating on Thanksgiving.

Also, realize how cold it would be on Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts, where the first Thanksgiving was held. First off, an outdoor feast with full crops in the middle of November is pretty unlikely. More accurately, it is impossible. The real reason we celebrate Thanksgiving in the late fall is because in 1863, Abraham Lincoln decided this holiday would be on the last Thursday of every November. It has nothing to do with the first pilgrims and Indians, but rather one of our presidents’ will and whim.

Another note to be taken is that natives and pilgrims were not friends. They both had a mutual dependence on one another. The newcomers did not know how to survive or farm in this new land, and the Indians wanted their weapons. The tradition to go around the table and say one thing we are thankful for certainly did not happen on the first Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is the perfect holiday to spend time with the people we love most, but do not get confused about its origins and where it came from. It may be a great holiday now, but make sure not to spread false joy about the supposed wonderful beginning of our nation.

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The Truth About Turkey Day