Opinion: A Closer Look at Thanksgiving

Every November, families get together to celebrate Thanksgiving together, but do they really know where this thankful holiday originated from? Yes, the current Thanksgiving is all about getting together, eating a festive meal, and giving thanks, but there are some factors of Thanksgiving that your history classes back in middle school probably didn’t teach you about. People need to know the history behind Thanksgiving, because it’s not as sunny and festive as you might have come to think. 

I’m sure that by now we all know the story of the grand feast that occurred at the First Thanksgiving; however, what you probably didn’t learn about in your classes was the harsh reality of what happened during that time. Massive conflicts between the European settlers and the Native Americans took place, leaving thousands upon thousands of people injured and deceased. 

According to the editors at History.com, “In their view, the traditional narrative paints a deceptively sunny portrait of relations between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag people, masking the long and bloody history of conflict between Native Americans and European settlers that resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands,” and then went on to describe how people have been protesting and still protesting Thanksgiving. Instead of celebrating, some people  “commemorate a ‘National Day of Mourning’.” This has been going on since the 1970s. 

Maya Salam of The New York Times stated that, “Blame school textbooks with details often so abridged, softened or out of context that they are ultimately made false; children’s books that simplify the story to its most pleasant version; or animated television specials like ‘The Mouse on the Mayflower,’ which first aired in 1968, that not only misinformed a generation, but also enforced a slew of cringeworthy stereotypes,” and then went on to explain that, “High school textbooks are particularly bad about stating absolutes because these materials ‘teach history’ by giving students facts to memorize even when the details may be unclear, said James W. Loewen, a sociologist and the author of Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong.

At this point you’re probably wondering how we can combat the lack of factual evidence and the twisting of knowledge that schools have been performing with their textbooks. There isn’t much that you can do because this misinformation is taught in schools all over; however, you can do your own research and try to teach yourself what you missed out on in school. 

As you celebrate Thanksgiving in the future, try to take a moment to not only give thanks to those around you, but to remember all of the lives that were lost during the time that Thanksgiving first originated, and remember to look into Thanksgiving on your own to know where the holiday that you’re celebrating came from.