[Opinion] Thanksgiving creates false ideals that negatively impact indigenous people


Liliana Griffis

People around America celebrate thanksgiving to give thanks and have a plentiful feast. However, this could be harming indigenous people around the world.

Mariana Neri Sapori, Writer

Throughout November, many prepared for the holiday of Thanksgiving, a festive time of year where families and friends gather to have a big dinner and celebrate their gratitude towards each other. However, people do not realize that this celebration may actually cause harm to indigenous communities by continuously celebrating the ‘peaceful feast.’

Everybody knows the story of Thanksgiving; in 1620, the Pilgrims sailed out of Plymouth, UK to the Americas in search of both religious freedom and a fresh start. The ship, named the Mayflower, traveled through the sea in the direction of Virginia, but instead ended up in MA, where the Native American tribe of the Wampanoag already resided. While this historical story has been taught for many years, others don’t realize how Thanksgiving glorifies the idea of colonization.

The pilgrims came to the native tribe Wampanoag’s land uninvited without anything to offer in their feast. The Pilgrims had been struggling to grow food and consumed the crops the Native Americans harvested before the winter while coming empty-handed to the meal. Those Native Americans were unjustly forced to share their food and land with new-comers who have not been prepared.

They didn’t bring anything to the table food-wise, but they brought many epidemics along the way through their journey, such as smallpox and chickenpox. This led to the death of many of the tribe members simply because of the diseases brought by these new guests.

The Wampanoag tribe has lived in Plymouth throughout thousands of years and yet it is recorded that they willingly gave up their land to settlers who came with nothing but diseases to offer which is skeptical for some to believe. Many of the 90 Native Americans that were among the 50 settlers ended up dying due to such health risks.

Many other reasons why Thanksgiving was not a harmonious celebration among the two groups was the sudden upbringing of European traditions the Pilgrims brought when they arrived in the native land. The Native Americans were forcibly pushed to adapt to these traditions and to help the Pilgrims when they arrived. If one were to dig deeper in history, they would find that many Native Americans were forced against their own will to share their land with the Pilgrims.

This was not the first incident Native Americans had had with traveling Europeans. Already having a bad history with the Europeans due to the violent genocide and capture of their tribes, it is hard to believe that the Wampanoag tribe surrendered their land so easily.

According to a 2021 article published on MRonline, “Not only did they bring European plagues to the Americas, but many of these men actually kidnapped Native Americans, brought them back to Europe, and sold them as slaves.”

The history students learn is not quite accurate. The two different communities both came together to have a feast as told in history books, but it did not determine how the process of settling in went. Many should be taught more about the violence the Indigenous people faced if Thanksgiving traditions are to be continued.