Harmoniously decorated tables filled with various traditional dishes of the time; hugs, gifts, and good wishes are some of the images that come to mind when thinking of Thanksgiving. Nevertheless, the real story behind Thanksgiving It is far from this romantic image full of peace and affection.
History lessons at school related to Thanksgiving point out that Native Americans from the Wampanoag tribe approached English settlers to teach them what life was like in these lands, and thus the colony of Plymouth was founded around the year 1620, in what we know today as Massachusetts. A year later, natives and settlers got together for a big party that lasted three days and included delicious dishes from both cultures.
Another version indicates that it was in 1637 when the first Thanksgiving was celebrated, when John Winthrop, the then governor of the Massachusetts colony, declared a day to celebrate that his soldiers murdered 700 native Pequot tribe men, women and children, in what is now Connecticut.
Whatever the reality, history records that after the meeting of the Wampanoag natives and the English in Plymouth, over the years the settlers began to control the Americans and relations flared. The assassination of the Punkapoag leader’s interpreter marked the beginning of hostilities that culminated in a bloody fight between the Wampanoag and other nearby tribes against the settlers.
Metacomet, also known as “King Philip”, the Wampanoag leader at the time, was assassinated, beheaded and dismembered. His impaled head was displayed in Plymouth by the English for 25 years. Other bloody and deadly clashes also occurred in the territories we know today as New York, New England and Virginia.
Over time, the native tribes of America were practically exterminated from their own territories, along with their traditions and worldviews.
So far from being a celebration to thank the harvest or celebrate the union of two cultures as different and diverse as the Native American and the European, Thanksgiving Day also recalls the harshness of a colonization struggle.
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