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Filed under Columns, Focus

The True Story of the First Thanksgiving

The real Thanksgiving occurred in 1637 and the aftermath in the twenty first century.

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  Growing up in the United States we are taught a certain way of the Europeans coming over escaping the tied down religion based in England.

  Yet did the Pilgrims share their Thanksgiving meal with the local Indians, the Wampanoag and Pequot? No. That never happened. That is, until its involvement in the “Thanksgiving Story” in 1890. The first Thanksgiving did occur in the year 1637 but was not celebrated the way it is today. On that day the Massachusetts Colony Governor, John Winthrop, proclaimed such a “Thanksgiving” to celebrate the safe return of a band of heavily armed hunters, all colonial volunteers. They had just returned from their journey to what is now Mystic, Connecticut where they massacred 700 Pequot Indians. Seven hundred Indians – men, women and children – all murdered.

  After 373 years, this event has been long gone forgotten by the American and European culture, though it is an unforgettable day in the hearts of the Native Americans. There is an existing group of only Native Americans in where they call themselves “United American Indians of New England.” The natives meet each year at Plymouth Rock on Cole’s Hill for what they say is a Day of Mourning. They gather at the feet of a statue of Chief Massasoit of the Wampanoag to remember the long gone leader and the families lost. They do not call it Thanksgiving. They do not get together for a football game afterwards and they don’t take a week off to prepare for the devastating mourning or meal around their table.  Thanksgiving Day has indeed spread across the continent and will continue to serve us well to remember that it wasn’t until the victorious colonial militia returned from their slaughter of the Pequot that the New Americans began their now time-honored and cherished Thanksgiving.

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The True Story of the First Thanksgiving