The date was 1621. That’s when The Pilgrims had their first harvest in the “New world” … leading to a three day feast shared by 90 Native Americans and 53 new colonists.
Why the diversity in diners? Simply stated: it was realized earlier that year that supplies brought from England were insufficient for the Pilgrims to survive. (Read: The new colonists depended on the Wampanoag tribe’s food when times were dire.)
When the chips were down, the First Nations people came through, with nothing to gain (and as history would show, much to lose.)
The pilgrims saw the kindness, sacrifice and support and appreciated it by way of sharing their harvest. Thanksgiving was born.
A bit of American History for those who may not know: Thanksgiving was initially a religious observance for all members of the community to “thank God” for a common purpose — thanks for a safe journey on expedition, victory in revolutionary war….In his 1789 National Thanksgiving Proclamation, George Washington included: “for the civil and religious liberty”, for “useful knowledge”, and for God’s “kind care” and “His Providence”. Religion was part of Thanksgiving in the early days — today it’s common to say “grace”, perhaps, and certainly think/express things one is thankful for.
A national holiday to reflect on how fortunate Americans are to be American.
Why the history lesson from a Canadian here?
For starters, we are all watching US Thanksgiving evolve (devolve?) into “Door Crashing Black Friday” sales where Americans, literally, beat each other to a pulp over a flat screen TV — or tear each other apart over the “hottest toy of the season”. Where the big network news stories are lazy traffic jams or flight delays.
Where is the love of the Native Americans this (and any, really) Thanksgiving, my American brothers and sisters?
We get it, it’s been a tumultuous 11 months of 2016, to say the least. Such a spectacular dichotomy that is a nation choosing turkeys and travel destinations over supporting their fellow Native Americans fighting for their land vs. teargas.
The Sioux Nation in Standing rock, North Dakota, who’ve named themselves Water Protectors, are protesting day and night. Day and night for days on end. A group who want nothing more than to protect their native land from an oil pipeline that threatens to contaminate their water – while violating sacred sites.
These Americans (they were here FIRST) are being shot at by police with water cannons (in sub-zero temps) and and with foam bullets — and for months they’ve stood showing true unity against big oil as “America” continues to focus on distractions. Sparklie things. Things like counting now meaningless ballots of the popular vote. A nation somehow allowing hate to be spewed and shared by white-supremicsts gathering to celebrate “the door being opened” for them — by the will of the people — in the name of freedom of speech. Hanging on every meaningless word of a man hungry for power and airtime.
Where are the rubber bullets for hate? The tear gas?
Why is this all-to-familiar brand of racist hate allowed to celebrate while peaceful protestors are attacked on their land?
It is their land — check the details: It was set aside for Native Americans in 1851. It’s in a treaty. It’s as (standing) rock solid as the right to free speech!
Why aren’t you fighting for them this Thanksgiving, America?
It’s a gross reality how money talks. The Sioux don’t have the bank to fight legally, their only chance is to literally stand and block the path to their rightful land. All they can do is refuse to lose. Very, very American. The America I thought I knew.
It’s tragic what we are witnessing at Standing Rock — tragic. I want to go there — but this is not my fight. My fight is a secret path of apology and making right the wrongs of a generation before me.
The suggestion here, from the Canadian-born-to-immigrants girl at this keyboard, is: Americans still moaning about Donald J. Trump President Elect should consider their Thanksgiving holiday focus be on joining the voices in protest in North Dakota. It would be an awfully massive step back in the right direction for a country lost…..it starts with putting your body where your ethics are.
Show the world that you are about more than the sale or the turkey.