Before I begin to cook, I wanted to share some information regarding the myth of Thanksgiving that was prepared for teachers. Originally written and developed by Cathy Ross, Mary Robertson, Chuck Larsen, and Roger Fernandes for the Indian Education program at Highline School District in Tacoma, Teaching About Thanksgiving explores factual information regarding this holiday. As the authors write,
So what do we teach to our children? We usually pass on unquestioned what we all received in our own childhood classrooms. I have come to know both the truths and the myths about our “First Thanksgiving,” and I feel we need to try to reach beyond the myths to some degree of historic truth.
How will you teach your children about this day of thanks, that initiated the genocide of Native Americans? Here are some highlights from Teaching About Thanksgiving:
- The Puritans were political revolutionaries who believed in Armageddon. They believed they were the “chosen elect” mentioned in Revelations. “They strove to ‘purify’ first themselves and then everyone else of everything they did not accept in their own interpretation of scripture. Later New England Puritans used any means, including deceptions, treachery, torture, war, and genocide to achieve that end.”
- The Wampanoag Native Americans were members of the confederacy of the League of the Delaware. Their religion embraced charity and hospitality “to anyone who came to them with empty hands.” Squanto, the Indian hero of the Thanksgiving story, had a very close relationship with British explorer John Weymouth, before the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth. Squanto associated the Puritans with Weymouth’s people.
- “To the Pilgrims the Indians were heathens and, therefore, the natural instruments of the Devil. Squanto, as the only educated and baptized Christian among the Wampanoag, was seen as merely an instrument of God, set in the wilderness to provide for the survival of His chosen people, the Pilgrims.”
- A generation later, the attendees of the first Thanksgiving “were striving to kill each other in the genocidal conflict known as King Philip’s War”. By the end of the war, most of the New England Indians were either exterminated, refugees in Canada, or sold into slavery.
As I watched a Yurok family yesterday shopping for their Thanksgiving meal, I wondered how they taught their children about this holiday. This week, my daughter has brought home from school the typical coloring sheets, dot-to-dots, pamphlets, etc. regarding this holiday, and my thoughts have dwelled on the honesty in education. A wonderful resource for teachers and parents is the book Rethinking Columbus, which has many ideas and resources for presenting this part of history to our children. I especially like the article on a Native American stepping off an airplane in Italy and declaring he had “discovered” the country. How can you discover a country when people are already living there?
As we feast with our families and friends today, we must be thankful for the stability in our lives and not forget that genocide is still occurring in Dafur. I am also thankful for the good health my family and friends enjoy. Just three years ago, my extended family spent Thanksgiving in the hospital. My infant son had open-heart surgery the day before Thanksgiving. There is so much to be thankful for today, but I am not sure world dominance is one of those things.
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons