The Original Thanksgiving: What Really Happened
I always assumed the original Thanksgiving was somewhat different from the warm-and-fuzzy-fest we all learned about in grade school. Was it ever.
Tisquantum (Anglicized into Squanto) was the Native American who enabled that famous banquet for the Pilgrims in 1621 and taught them survival skills for the upcoming winter. Squanto was a member of the Patuxet Nation, which was part of the larger Wampanoag confederacy. He was kidnapped by a British seafarer, Thomas Hunt, who was serving under Captain John Smith (of Jamestown and Pocahontas fame).
This site goes into greater detail.
Thomas Hunt sold Squanto into slavery in Spain. Squanto escaped from his captors, and boarded a ship bound for Newfoundland. He worked as an interpreter on the ship. When he eventually made it back to New England, he discovered that the entire Patuxet Nation had died of smallpox, courtesy of their new “visitors” from across the Atlantic. He was the last living Patuxet.
Nevertheless, Squanto taught fishing and planting and other survival skills to his new “friends.” The resulting much-celebrated First Thanksgiving was in 1621. Squanto died of smallpox in 1622.
I’ve read “Lies My Teacher Told Me” and “A People’s History of the United States” — not recently — but I don’t remember reading anything about Thanksgiving. Having read those two books, the above description of the original Thanksgiving makes perfect sense.
The linked article (the first one) also contains a 42-minute film, “Reclaiming Their Voices: The Native American Vote in New Mexico.” (I haven’t watched it yet.) It’s about the Laguna Pueblo and their historic battles against oppression, from Spanish Colonial days to the present. The film was created by Dorothy Fadiman and is narrated by Peter Coyote.