No, this is not meant to spoil your thanksgiving meal. But it's always good to know the story beyond what popular culture tells you. So I'd like to point to last year's post which illustrates that thanksgiving was good for the Pilgrims, one of the early groups that settled in Massachusetts in the early 17th century, but behind it lies a larger, unspoken tragedy that befell the diverse -- and at that time thriving -- set of east coast Native American communities. In fact, the odd sounding names Massachusetts and Connecticut are names in their languages. So, here's a reprise of one of my favorite posts from last year. A short excerpt:
[The Thanksgiving story] is a very important story: all nations attach special relevance to their beginnings, and the Pilgrims are a vital part of America’s national narrative. But the story, while true, is told in isolation, without a proper context; there is a sense of idyll about it. And the way it is told propagates a broader myth: that European settlers settled a largely empty expanse of North America, a vast natural wilderness. Sure, there were a few tribes here and there, some friendly, some hostile, but what could they do? They were destined to lose.Read the full essay here.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The textbook version of Thanksgiving not only obscures the broader socio-political context of the time; it also hides an immense tragedy.
To be sure, history, however multi dimensional and complex, shouldn't change our wish to give thanks; or, more importantly, shouldn't diminish our appetites. So let's all eat heartily -- happy thanksgiving!