Who Hijacked Our Country

Friday, November 23, 2012

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.

Labels: , , , ,


Blogger Randal Graves said...

Oh sure, blame everything on Whitey. Fucking hippie.

November 24, 2012 at 7:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In my case you are preaching to the choir


November 26, 2012 at 12:54 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Randal: I'm proud to be a Whitey-hatin' Hippie.

Erik: And I think this choir is getting larger all the time.

November 26, 2012 at 12:59 PM  
Blogger S.W. Anderson said...

I feel sadness and disappointment when I hear or read of things such as this. What comes through is how those early European settlers, thought to be the more civilized and advanced people then and since, were in fact painfully ignorant and imbued with a sense of entitlement that too often led to exploitation and tragedy for others.

The sanitized, romanticized tale of early settlers and the first Thanksgiving belie a much harsher reality. I hope we've learned to be better and do better. Knowing the truth about past mistakes could help with that.

November 27, 2012 at 12:18 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

SW: You're right, this history is sad and disappointing but not surprising. I think it's a mistake for a country to whitewash and sugarcoat its history. We're better off knowing what really happened.

November 27, 2012 at 5:04 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home