History In The Hands Of The Ignorant

I saw a news item some years ago. Supposedly a Hollywood star came out saying she hates the US holiday of Thanksgiving (the Los Angeles Times published a rebuttal article calling into question Fox’s motivation and journalism for drawing their information from popeater.com, though the Times failed to mention that sites like the Huffington Post also carried the story).

The “news event,” generated by second-hand reports, explained that this star was boycotting Thanksgiving because she didn’t want to be a part of rewriting history or commemorating “what the white settlers did to the native Indians.”

I’d like to rail a little against this one ignorant woman, except I saw something eerily similar from someone in my Facebook network.

Then today I learned that some are calling Thanksgiving a day of mourning, basically as a protest against the results of the Indian wars that occurred some 200 years after the event recognized as the first Thanksgiving.

Never mind that there are primary historical documents—journals by the pilgrims who actually celebrated that holiday, such as Of Plymouth Plantation by William Bradford and Mourt’s Relation by Edward Winslow and others—that make it clear Thanksgiving has nothing to do with any of the activity that forced the native Americans off their land.

The event that Americans commonly call the “First Thanksgiving” was celebrated to give thanks to God for helping the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony survive their first brutal winter in New England. The first Thanksgiving feast lasted three days, providing enough food for 53 pilgrims and 90 Native Americans.
Wikipedia

In what way would a gathering that included on average two Indians for every pilgrim settler be reprehensible? Especially when the settlers were thanking God for His provision—not merely for the food, but for the Indians who taught them how to survive.

In the fall of 1621, the Pilgrims reaped a bountiful harvest. To thank God for their deliverance and the help they had received from the Indians, Bradford held a three-day Thanksgiving feast inviting the Indians to join them in their celebration.
“Strangers, Saints and Indians” by John A. Murray, Wall Street Journal

For the next fifty years, the pilgrims and the neighboring native people groups lived in harmony. And Thanksgiving feasts took place in response to the blessings they enjoyed. Not every year, but with more and more frequency.

So who actually is “rewriting history”?

Certainly not the people who are reading the original source material. And not those of us who celebrate God’s goodness, as the pilgrims did—recognizing that God’s hand preserves and protects and provides.

Think about it. What were the odds that a native American, fluent in English, would “happen” upon this colony of pilgrims so in need of help?

But I’m getting sidetracked.

This well-documented story certainly can be interpreted from a number of angles (for example, by focusing on the English speaking native Americans, by looking at the political developments within the colony, by exploring the relationships of the various native people groups with each other), but it cannot be painted as the beginning of hostilities, pilgrims with Indians.

At least as long as we’re not rewriting history.

In one video I watched, one history re-writer said the Pilgrims were shooting guns in preparation of the army that would wipe out all the native Americans. But the forced removal of Native groups from their land—a reprehensible act that demolished a number of treaties and broke trust and harmed the possibility of peace—didn’t take place until 1830. Two hundred years after the celebration of a promising beginning.

No, things were not always good during those ensuing years, in the same way that the US fought against England in 1776 and then again in 1812. As it happened, some Indian groups allied with England and some with the colonists/Americans. And yes there were localized land fights on occasion.

But none of that should take away from the glory of the event that brought over 140 people together to feast and celebrate and to give thanks. The first Thanksgiving was remarkable and should be our goal, not a cause for further division and accusation.

Are we so ignorant that in this Age of Communication, people will believe something so easy to debunk as the false narrative that the Pilgrims had something to do with displacing the native Americans? The sad part is that believing it turns into repeating it, which soon hardens into rewritten history.

Much of this article is a reprint of an earlier post.

Published in: on November 27, 2019 at 5:24 pm  Comments (6)  
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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Agree. (who would’ve thought that was possible! 🙂 )
    Important for everyone to get their facts on point and straight as possible.
    My objection to Thanksgiving is the unnecessary slaughter of millions of turkeys.
    It’s also very poor taste seeing cartoon turkeys depicted as smiling and happy to be part of the ”festivities.”
    What animal would ever express any sense of joy at its own slaughter?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for getting the true story back out there. Rewritten history is a reason many parents are choosing to home school.
    Agree somewhat with the turkey thing, mainly that turkeys have become way too much a symbol of the holiday. Some even call it “Turkey Thursday,” instead of “Thanksgiving” – a day of gratitude. This year I’ve heard scarcely a word about Thanksgiving in advertising. The focus is either on “Black Friday” (a day of extreme materialism and greed) or skips right over to Christmas, often turning celebrating the birth of Christ into a day of greed, as well.
    … Yikes, bah humbug. :/ I truly AM grateful today, surrounded by children, grandchildren. and the beautiful people God has sent my children to be part of our family. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Excellent points. Yes, Thanksgiving has been downplayed a lot. Many think it’s because it came so late this year. But I think that’s only part of the issue.

      I appreciate the comment.

      Becky

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Love this! Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Yep. Thanksgiving already has been downplayed thanks to commercialism. Our culture takes its cues from stores and TV commercials. Not much they can sell with this holiday–aside from frozen turkeys, canned cranberry sauce, and pies.

    A lot of historical illiteracy. People confuse the Pilgrims, the Puritans, and the Jamestown settlers though these were very different people living in different places. Jamestown did treat the natives poorly, but they were not the people who started Thanksgiving. They came here for different motives.

    But that’s what we can expect when some star athlete who probably never cracked a book in his college career claims that Betsy Ross the Quaker abolitionist owned a plantation full of slaves. Cause that’s what abolitionists were known for of course.

    The stupid keeps on rising….

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a great illustration, Rachel. Yes, people just say whatever fits the narrative they’ve decided on. Currently it’s how all the Europeans who came across the Atlantic had evil motives, and apparently, how every American of European ancestry was a plantation owner and supported slavery. It’s all so divisive. And so needless, if we would take time to actually look at facts. But this is the era of determining your gender by how you feel, so I don’t know if a bit of history will actually make a difference. Thanks for your input.

      Becky

      Like


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