Home > Food, Lifestyle > It’s Not All About Turkey: the Real History of Thanksgiving

It’s Not All About Turkey: the Real History of Thanksgiving

Fatima Shabbir

Photo courtesy of aesthetic.gregcookland.com.

Did anyone even notice that Thanksgiving is around the corner, or has homework, class presentations and papers totally drained you and your mental processes? Well that is what has happened to me!  However, I finally have time to relax and enjoy the upcoming week of vacation and food awaiting me!

With that said, I always feel a little weird on Thanksgiving. Turns out, Thanksgiving is the holiday to commemorate and remember that grand feast the pilgrims and the Native Americans shared in 1621 on Plymouth Rock.  The Natives taught the pilgrims how to hunt, grow crops the Europeans never dreamed of hearing about, like beans, pumpkins, squash and corn.

So why do I feel weird? Maybe because this scene above that is played out in school plays and in auditoriums across the nation isn’t the true, peaceful and happy story that actually happened! Instead it is a brutish, nasty and horrifying history filled with death and murder.  It was built on the sweat of Native Americans, who used to live here, cultivated here, considered this the spiritual land of their ancestors.  After the Europeans came and saw what potential such land had, they were amazed. And who wouldn’t be?

They (being white, civilized, Christians) didn’t understand the life of these “savage and uncivilized people”, who wore skins and feathers, hunted meat, and fought wars in different ways with different tools. They were a people spiritually tied to their land.

In short — The “Americans,” or what became known as Americans – slaughtered millions of them and forced the rest out of their land, in favor of Christianity, individualism and technology (remember Andrew Johnson and the Trail of Tears as one specific but popular example).

So this is why I am ambivalent abut Thanksgiving, as a student (thanks to my American Pluralism class for teaching me this important lesson and history) and as a human being of this world. I have no choice but to sit at home stuffing my face with a turkey and feeling the pain of so many who were killed and humiliated for me to enjoy these couple days off and fine food. I wonder how Native Americans feel about this holiday? Maybe I’m just a pessimist – but I can’t help it.

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  1. November 26, 2010 at 6:00 pm

    I found this info is very helpful. Thanks for sharing. Would you care whether I quote a few facts from this post in our blog if it’s disclosed you for the writer and links back to this page? Thank you!

  2. Fatima
    December 14, 2010 at 9:44 pm

    Hey! I know this comment is a little late.
    I’m glad I was willing to help someone do their own research, explore and find out more. That was the idea. This is the author certainly have no problem with using quotes from here. My ramblings here are very general (since it had to fit in a blog post) but a good book for more valuable and in depth information on this topic is Ronald Takaki’s “A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America.” I had to read it for a class and it was so enlightening!

  1. November 26, 2010 at 3:52 pm

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