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The real story of Thanksgiving
Posted by: Jennifer ()
Date: November 28, 2017 11:44PM

The pilgrims traveled the Atlantic Ocean to a place that was foreign and unknown, on a boat that was not pleasant or luxury. They had no idea what they were going to encounter, but it had to be better than what they were fleeing. What they were fleeing was religious persecution.

The real story of Thanksgiving, no one was taught. We were taught a sanitized version. We were taught that Thanksgiving was about the Pilgrims being saved from starvation and deprivation by the loving, good-hearted, compassionate, and caring stewards of the earth, the Indians. The Pilgrims didn’t know how to grow corn, food, maize, popcorn, anything of the sort when they got here. The Indians showed them all of that. And Thanksgiving was the Pilgrims inviting the Indians over for dinner to thank the Indians for saving them, the Native Americans. Everybody’s been taught a version of that.

But, it isn’t true. The story of the Pilgrims begins in the early part of seventeenth century, the 1600s. The Church of England under King James was persecuting anybody and everybody who did not recognize its absolute civil and spiritual authority. The government was god, the government was the religion, the government was the church. And those who challenge that, those who believed strongly in freedom of worship, were hunted down, were imprisoned and sometimes executed for their religious beliefs in 1600s England.

So a group of separatists, people that didn’t want any part of this, they’d had their limit, first fled to Holland. The Pilgrims did not come on the same route as the Titanic. They didn’t come from England. They fled to Holland and established a community there. And after 11 years, 40 of them agreed to make the journey to what was then called the New World, where they knew they would certainly face hardships. But the promise was that they could live and worship God according to the dictates of their own consciences.

The belief in freedom of religion to engage in this kind of activity in order to be able to do it, to be able to cross an ocean to a place you have no idea what to expect just to be able to worship as you choose. So August 1, 1620, the Mayflower set sail. There were 102 passengers, including 40 Pilgrims. The whole ship was not Pilgrims, just 40 of them. They were led by a man named William Bradford.

On the journey, Bradford set up an agreement, a contract that established socialism. Just and equal laws for all members of the new community, quote, unquote, irrespective of their religious beliefs. Where do the revolutionary ideas expressed in the Mayflower Compact come from? These are religious people. They came from the Bible. The Pilgrims were a people that were completely steeped in the lessons of the Old and New Testaments. And the Pilgrims looked to the ancient Israelites for their example, and because of the biblical precedents in Scripture, they didn’t doubt their experiment would work.

They were people with incredible faith. The journey to the New World was long, it was arduous. When they landed in New England in November, according to Bradford’s journal, they found a cold, barren, desolate wilderness. Rocks and coastline. No houses, no inns; the sacrifices they had made for freedom were just beginning.

During the first winter, half of them died, including William Bradford’s own wife, of either starvation, sickness, or exposure. When spring finally came, Indians, Native Americans, did indeed teach the settlers how to plant corn, how to fish for cod, skin beavers for coats. Life improved for the Pilgrims, but they didn’t prosper. Not yet.

Now, this is important to understand, because this is where modern American history lessons end. This is what the modern Thanksgiving story is. Pilgrims show up, don’t know what they’re doing, nothing for them, no place to stay, they’re starving. The Indians fed them, showed them how to feed themselves and make coats and stay warm and Thanksgiving happened.

That’s not the story. That’s not why the Pilgrims gave thanks. That’s not why George Washington proclaimed the first Thanksgiving holiday. The Indians did indeed help them, and they learned how to plant corn, and they had a big feast. And we celebrate that today. But Thanksgiving is actually explained in textbooks as a holiday for which the Pilgrims gave thanks to the Indians for saving their lives, rather than what it was.

The Pilgrims’ Thanksgiving was a thanks to God for helping them in their belief in Him and Scripture and to arranging their affairs and forming their colony in a way that ultimately they could survive. And if you doubt this, go look at George Washington’s first Thanksgiving proclamation when Thanksgiving became a national holiday.

You cannot escape the fact that Thanksgiving was a national holiday rooted in thanking God for America. That was George Washington’s purpose. Thanksgiving was to thank God for America, for everything that had happened leading to the founding of America, everything. Washington, many of the founders felt divine inspiration throughout the entire period of time following the Pilgrims’ arrival.

Here’s the part that’s been omitted from the textbooks. Remember the original contract that the Pilgrims all signed aboard the Mayflower. Well, they had merchant sponsors. They didn’t have any money. They had people paying them, sponsoring their trip. They didn’t have the money to make the trip themselves. These sponsors were in Holland and London. They had to be repaid.

So that contract called for everything the Pilgrims produced to go into a common store, a single bank account, if you will. And each member of the community was entitled to an equal share of the gross. This was fair. This was equal. This was same. All the land they cleared, the houses they built, they belonged to the community as well.

Nobody owned anything. Everything was owned by the community, everybody equal share to all of it. They were going to distribute it equally. Everybody would get the same, everybody would be the same. All the land they cleared, the houses they built, belonged to the community.

Nobody owned anything. It was a commune. They even had organic vegetables. William Bradford, who had become the new governor of the colony, recognized that this wasn’t working. They weren’t making any money to pay off the sponsors. But you know what else was happening? Since everybody got an equal share no matter what, there were some sloths. Some of the original Pilgrims, some of their offspring just sat around and did nothing all day while the others picked up the slack.

And Bradford saw this isn’t going to work. And so they essentially tore up that first contract, which, they didn’t know it, but that was socialism. And what they did was create a new community based on what we would call capitalism today. The more you produce, the more you got to keep. The harder you work, the greater were the fruits of your labors. If you wanted a bigger home than somebody else, and you could afford to build it, you did it, you didn’t have to share it.

And this change unleashed everything, and the Pilgrims became a going economic concern. And they experienced economic plenty far greater than any they had had under the previous Mayflower Compact arrangement. Bradford writes about all of this in his journal, and it is for this that the original Pilgrims gave thanks. Not to the Indians saving them, but to God for helping them to survive and thrive in a place none had ever been.

So William Bradford, the governor of the colony, after abandoning the original compact and then converting to, “Hey, you can keep what you earn and earn as much as you produce,” when free enterprise of turned loose in Bradford’s journal, this had very good success, “for it made all hands industrious so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been.”

In other words, they had economic growth, they had prosperity because there was personal incentive rather than everybody getting a share of what others, some, not everybody else produced. And so the Pilgrims found that they had more food than they could eat themselves.

This is where what you’ve been told about Thanksgiving enters the picture. The Pilgrims had more than they could share, more than they could eat, more food than they could serve each other. They invited the Indians. They set up trading posts. They exchanged goods with the Indians, and the profits finally allowed them to pay off the debts to the sponsors, the merchants in London and Holland who had sponsored them.

But it was the sharing of the bounty that was created by the change in governing structure that led to the plenty that allowed them to invite the Indians and share all of this with them. That’s the story most people get, but they’ve been mistaught that the Indians provided all the food because the Pilgrims were incapable. It is the exact opposite.

There's just one more time element to this, The True Story of Thanksgiving. You may or may not have heard the story of the great Puritan migration. That is what happened after the Pilgrims original two or three years setting up shop. This is fundamentally important to understand.

The great Pilgrim migration occurred because of the overwhelming success at growing their community. The word of what the Pilgrims had done spread — there are ships going back and forth, New World to England and Europe all the time, and word spread of this newfound prosperity, of this New World, of the new opportunities, of the religious freedom and other freedoms that had been created after the arrival of the Pilgrims.

Had none of that happened, had the real story of Thanksgiving been that the Pilgrims were a decrepit bunch, out of place and didn’t know how to take care of themselves and if it weren’t for the Indians they would have died, there would have been no reason for anybody to follow them. It would have been judged a failure. But it was anything but. And it is not taught today.

But the fact of the matter is that the Pilgrims — they were not ideologues. It wasn’t that somebody said, “We’re gonna try socialism.” It’s just the way they set it up. They wanted to be fair with everything. It was a natural thing. “We’ll have a common store. Everybody has one share, and everything we do and make goes into that bank, and everybody gets an equal percentage of it.” Well, human nature interceded, and there were some lazy people that didn’t do anything, they don’t have to, they were entitled to an equal share no matter what they did.

That didn’t work very long. They set up free enterprise where the fruits of your labor determined what you got, what you had, and what you’re able to do. And it formed the basis of forming the basic arrangements they had as a community. It was so successful, and that’s what they gave thanks for.
These were deeply religious people. They were giving thanks for having been shown the light, and the word spread, and that began the Great Puritan Migration, and that’s when the flood of European arrivals began, after the success of the original Plymouth colony.

That’s never taught as part of the original Thanksgiving story, but now you know it.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/28/2017 11:56PM by Jennifer.

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Re: The real story of Thanksgiving
Posted by: Jennifer ()
Date: November 29, 2017 12:00AM

Meet the Native American tribe that shared the first Thanksgiving


"The details surrounding the first Thanksgiving meal remain a contested topic among historians. What we do know is that the Pilgrim colonists gathered in Plymouth, Mass., in November 1621 with the Wampanoag tribe to celebrate the fall harvest.

The co-celebrated harvest was considered a remarkable feat of humanity and decency and is celebrated today as a symbol of respect, unity, and family."

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Re: The real story of Thanksgiving
Posted by: riverhousebill ()
Date: November 29, 2017 12:26PM

(Indian Country Today)

Native American perspective,

Like it Happened Yesterday…

While many paintings of “the First Thanksgiving” show a single long table with several Pilgrims and a few Native people, there were actually twice as many Wampanoag people as colonists. It is unlikely that everyone could have been accommodated at one table. Rather, Wampanoag leaders like Massasoit and his advisors were most likely entertained in the home of Plymouth Colony’s governor, William Bradford.

The Wampanoag Side of the First Thanksgiving Story

From the Native perspective: The true story of Thanksgiving

Michelle Tirado • November 23, 2011

Too often the story of the 1621 Thanksgiving is told from the Pilgrims’ point of view, and when the Wampanoag, who partook in this feast too, are included, it is usually in a brief or distorted way. In search of the Native American perspective, we looked to Plymouth, where the official first Thanksgiving took place and where today the Wampanoag side of the story can be found.

Plimoth Plantation is one of Plymouth’s top attractions and probably the place to go for the first Thanksgiving story. It is a living museum, with its replica 17th century Wampanoag Homesite, a representation of the homesite used by Hobbamock, who served as emissary between the Wampanoag and Pilgrims, and staffed by 23 Native Americans, mostly Wampanoag; 17th century English Village; and the Mayflower II, a replica of the ship that brought the Pilgrims to Plymouth.

According to a Plimoth Plantation timeline, the Mayflower arrived at Plymouth Harbor on December 16, 1620. The Pilgrims settled in an area that was once Patuxet, a Wampanoag village abandoned four years prior after a deadly outbreak of a plague, brought by European traders who first appeared in the area in 1616. The museum’s literature tells that before 1616, the Wampanoag numbered 50,000 to 100,000, occupying 69 villages scattered throughout southeastern Massachusetts and eastern Rhode Island. The plague, however, killed thousands, up to two-thirds, of them. Many also had been captured and sold as slaves.

Intergenerational Trauma: Understanding Natives’ Inherited Pain

Download our free report, Intergenerational Trauma: Understanding Natives’ Inherited Pain, to understand this fascinating concept.

And yet, when the Wampanoag watched the Mayflower’s passengers come ashore at Patuxet, they did not see them as a threat. “The Wampanoag had seen many ships before,” explained Tim Turner, Cherokee, manager of Plimoth Plantation’s Wampanoag Homesite and co-owner of Native Plymouth Tours. “They had seen traders and fishermen, but they had not seen women and children before. In the Wampanoag ways, they never would have brought their women and children into harm. So, they saw them as a peaceful people for that reason.”

But they did not greet them right away either. The English, in fact, did not see the Wampanoag that first winter at all, according to Turner. “They saw shadows,” he said. Samoset, a Monhegan from Maine, came to the village on March 16, 1621. The next day, he returned with Tisquantum (Squanto), a Wampanoag who befriended and helped the English that spring, showing them how to plant corn, fish and gather berries and nuts. That March, the Pilgrims entered into a treaty of mutual protection with Ousamequin (Massasoit), the Pokanoket Wampanoag leader.

Turner said what most people do not know about the first Thanksgiving is that the Wampanoag and Pilgrims did not sit down for a big turkey dinner and it was not an event that the Wampanoag knew about or were invited to in advance. In September/October 1621, the Pilgrims had just harvested their first crops, and they had a good yield. They “sent four men on fowling,” which comes from the one paragraph account by Pilgrim Edward Winslow, one of only two historical sources of this famous harvest feast. Winslow also stated, “we exercised our arms.” “Most historians believe what happened was Massasoit got word that there was a tremendous amount of gun fire coming from the Pilgrim village,” Turner said. “So he thought they were being attacked and he was going to bear aid.”

When the Wampanoag showed up, they were invited to join the Pilgrims in their feast, but there was not enough food to feed the chief and his 90 warriors. “He [Massasoit] sends his men out, and they bring back five deer, which they present to the chief of the English town [William Bradford]. So, there is this whole ceremonial gift-giving, as well. When you give it as a gift, it is more than just food,” said Kathleen Wall, a Colonial Foodways Culinarian at Plimoth Plantation.

Intergenerational Trauma: Understanding Natives’ Inherited Pain

Download our free report, Intergenerational Trauma: Understanding Natives’ Inherited Pain, to understand this fascinating concept.

The harvest feast lasted for three days. What did they eat? Venison, of course, and Wall said, “Not just a lovely roasted joint of venison, but all the parts of the deer were on the table in who knows how many sorts of ways.” Was there turkey? “Fowl” is mentioned in Winslow’s account, which puts turkey on Wall’s list of possibilities. She also said there probably would have been a variety of seafood and water fowl along with maize bread, pumpkin and other squashes. “It was nothing at all like a modern Thanksgiving,” she said.

While today Thanksgiving is one of our nation’s favorite holidays, it has a far different meaning for many Wampanoag, who now number between 4,000 and 5,000. Turner said, “For the most part, Thanksgiving itself is a day of mourning for Native people, not just Wampanoag people.”

At noon on every Thanksgiving Day, hundreds of Native people from around the country gather at Cole’s Hill, which overlooks Plymouth Rock, for the National Day of Mourning. It is an annual tradition started in 1970, when Wampanoag Wamsutta (Frank) James was invited by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to give a speech at an event celebrating the 350th anniversary of the Pilgrims’ arrival and then disinvited after the event organizers discovered his speech was one of outrage over the “atrocities” and “broken promises” his people endured.

On the Wampanoag welcoming and having friendly relations with the Pilgrims, James wrote in his undelivered speech: “This action by Massasoit was perhaps our biggest mistake. We, the Wampanoag, welcomed you, the white man, with open arms, little knowing that it was the beginning of the end.”

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Re: The real story of Thanksgiving
Posted by: Jennifer ()
Date: November 29, 2017 03:17PM

Interesting. Thanks!

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