What Really Happened on Thanksgiving?

Gillian Ward, Reporter

They ate pie and turkey, then watched football and drank beer right? That’s what we do, but the reality is that, like many traditions and holidays, the Thanksgiving we know today is quite skewed from the original one.

The first Thanksgiving was in 1621, almost 400 years ago, and we only have two eyewitness accounts of the event.
However, we still know from these texts that venison (deer meat) -not turkey- topped the menu. Although, there was turkey available, as well as fowl and fish.

We really don’t know why this communal meal took place between the white settlers and Wampanoag Indians, but we do know that the settlers had just harvested their first grain. There were more than 100 people in attendance. This event wasn’t even called Thanksgiving, and the activities were very different to ours. They shared a meal and played games; modern Americans gorge themselves and then watch the game.

The event was not repeated for ten years, until about 25,000 more Englishmen arrived in the “New World”. By that time, a plague had already cut the native population by more than half. With new settlers, tension grew for land and war erupted in 1675. This war between the natives and english colonials was called “King Phillips War”, named for a native chief who had adopted an english name because of the pleasant relationship he had found with the Mayflower settlers. He had been at the “first Thanksgiving.”

Many people frown these days upon Thanksgiving, especially certain Native Americans.

Personally, I think the things that went on back then were atrocious; there weren’t laws and regulations protecting these people. The way we celebrate Thanksgiving isn’t how colonials did, and Thanksgiving wasn’t the pretty picture we were painted as a child in elementary school, but I don’t think there is anything terrible about the way the average American celebrates Thanksgiving.

I will be gathering with loved ones on Thursday, but not to remember the 400 year old event where two peoples dined together only to begin fighting 50 years later. On Thursday I will cook for and give thanks for my loved ones and all of the blessings I have received. It doesn’t have to be about the Native/English meeting, after all, we don’t even celebrate like they did.