The Pilgrims left England seeking religious freedom. When they landed here, the
righteous Pilgrims met wild Indians who soon became their friends. They learned to
work together even though they had different languages and cultures.
In October of 1621, the Pilgrim settlers and the Indians of Plymouth Plantation in
Massachusetts celebrated their good harvest and had a feast together. They each
brought foods, which they shared with each other, in the first Thanksgiving, a
celebration thanking God for taking care of their people. Thanksgiving is a
wonderful way to remember all that we should be thankful for, and a reminder that
white people and people of color can unite and be happy together. Yeah Turkey!
This is how it really went.
The Pilgrims may have been religious radicals who were driven out of England, but
they were never known for being "righteous" people. Although we are often taught
that they were "fleeing religious persecution," most schoolbooks don't mention that
their voyage was being funded by a trading company. The trading company and the
Pilgrims were interested in a lot more than religious freedom.
In 1620, the Pilgrims were pleased to find the ruins of a former Native village of
the Pawtuxet Nation. They settled here and built a colony which they called the
The Pawtuxet people had lived there in peace for thousands of years. That is, until
the English settlers began arriving. In 1614, an English soldier named John Smith
arrived and began taking Indians to sell into slavery in Europe. Another common
practice among Europeans was to give "Smallpox Infected Blankets" to the Indians.
The settlers would offer the blankets as a friendly gift, secretly knowing what
would soon happen to their new "friends." Since smallpox was unknown on this
continent before the arrival of the Europeans, Indians did not have any immunity to
the deadly disease. In a short time, smallpox would wipe out entire villages with
very little effort required by the Europeans.
The Europeans thanked their God for the Indians' demise. A colony founder remarked
in a letter back to England: "But for the natives in these parts, God hath so
pursued them, as for 300 miles space the greatest part of them are swept away by
smallpox which still continues among them. So…God hath thereby cleared our title to
By the time the Pilgrims arrived six years later, only one Pawtuxet had survived, a
man named Squanto, who had spent time as a slave to the English.
When the Pilgrims met Squanto, they were sick and near starving. Since Squanto
understood the language and customs of the Puritans, he taught them to use the corn
growing wild from the abandoned fields of the village, taught them how to fish, and
taught them about the foods, herbs and fruits of the land. Basically, Squanto saved
their lives. Without his help, Plymouth Plantation would not have survived its first
Squanto also negotiated a peace treaty between the Puritans and the Wampanoag
Nation, a very large Native nation which totally surrounded the new Plymouth
Plantation. Because of Squanto's help, the Puritans enjoyed almost 15 years of
peaceful harmony with the surrounding Indians, and the Pilgrims prospered.
At the end of their first year, the Puritans held a great feast following the
harvest of the food that Squanto had taught them how to farm. The feast honored
Squanto and their friends, the Wampanoags. The first Thanksgiving was a day of the
Pilgrims giving thanks for the Indians who helped them and took care of them.
However, the Indians who were there were not even invited! Actually, a few days
before this feast took place, a squad of Pilgrims led by Miles Standish actively
sought the head of a local Indian chief, and an 11 foot high wall was erected around
the entire Plymouth settlement for the very purpose of keeping Indians out!
The feast was followed by three days of "Thanksgiving" celebrating their good
fortune. The Pilgrims drank even more than their daily custom of half a gallon of
beer, and engaged in drunken acts of violence and sodomy. They were having a good
old-fashioned European party.
Soon after this first "Thanksgiving," in 1629, the Puritans began a march inland
from the shore. Using *Bible Passages* to justify their every move, they seized
land, took the strong and young Indians as slaves to work their land, and killed the
They destroyed their "friends" the Wampanoag pretty easily. Their chief was
beheaded, and his head placed on a pole in Plymouth, Massachusetts - where it
remained for 24 years.
But when they reached the Connecticut Valley around 1633, they met a different type
of force. The Pequot Nation, very large and very powerful, had never entered into
the peace treaty negotiated by Squanto, as had the Wampanoag and the Narragansett.
They were not interested in helping or befriending the white settlers. The elders of
the Pequot had warned them not to trust these people.
When resisting Pequot Natives killed two slave raiders, the Pilgrims demanded that
the killers be turned over to them. The Pequot refused. This act of resistance led
to the Pequot War, the bloodiest of the Indian wars in the northeast.
An army of over 200 white settlers was formed. They also convinced over 1,000
Narragansett warriors to join them by using lies and deceit. Although they would
later destroy the Narragansett as well, the Narragansett Indians believed that they
were helping the right group of people.
Commander John Mason decided not to fight a head-on battle. Instead, the Pequot were
attacked, one village at a time, in the early hours of the morning. Each village was
set on fire with its sleeping Natives burned alive. Women and children over 14 were
raped and captured to be sold as slaves. Other survivors were brutally tortured and
Indians were sold into slavery in the islands of the West Indies, Spain, Algiers,
and England; everywhere the Pilgrim traders went. The slave trade was so profitable
that boatloads of 500 at a time left the harbors of New England. Of course, all this
helped lay the foundations for the African slave trade.
The destruction of Indians in the Pequot War soon led to more destruction in King
Philip's war. In 1641, the Dutch governor of Manhattan offered the first scalp
bounty. Usually, we are taught that the Indians were the ones scalping white people.
The truth was that it began with whites scalping Indians, and other Indians being
paid or tricked to scalp their brothers and sisters.
The Dutch and Pilgrims joined forces to exterminate all Natives from New England,
and village after village fell. Following an especially successful raid against the
Pequot in what is now Connecticut, the churches of Manhattan announced a day of
"Thanksgiving" to celebrate victory over the "heathen savages."
One colonist in Manhattan wrote, "There is now but few Indians upon the island and
those few no ways hurtful. It is to be admired how strangely they have decreased by
the hand of God, since the English first settled in these parts." Strange, indeed.
This was the Second Thanksgiving. Since that day, Thanksgiving has been a
celebration of the destruction of Native people in the name of white supremacy. And
somehow, God is all part of the plan.
During the feasting that followed this second Thanksgiving, the hacked off heads of
Natives were kicked through the streets of Manhattan like soccer balls. This is the
origin of the football tradition on Thanksgiving.
From then on, a Thanksgiving feast was held after each successful massacre. Each
town held days of Thanksgiving to celebrate their own victories over the Natives
until it became clear that there needed to be an order for these special occasions.
It was George Washington who finally brought a system and a schedule to Thanksgiving
when he declared one day to be celebrated across the nation as Thanksgiving Day.
Years later, Abraham Lincoln decreed Thanksgiving Day a legal national holiday
during the Civil War - on the same day and at the same time he was ordering troops
to march against the Sioux Indians in Minnesota.
In 1492, there were over 80 million Native Americans. A century later there were
only ten million. Today, there are about two million left.
You can't help everybody.
First it was smallpox blankets meant to kill any Indian who touched them. But the
Europeans gave them to the Indians as an act of friendship. The Indians would not be
cold during the winter, thanks to the generous white people, right? Then they all
Then the Europeans offered alcohol to help the Indians cope with the cold winters
(especially since many of them had lost their homes), and also to help celebrate
their…um, well they ain't have sh*t to celebrate, did they? And now alcoholism is a
major problem for Indians. They call it their "firewater" and that sh*t is killing
many of them slowly.
Finally, some people learned that casinos could be built legally on Indian land.
This seemed great. After all, the Pequot Indians, who were almost destroyed in the
Pequot War, now make about $9 Billion a year off their casino built in the same area
where they once fought. But guess what?
Now, the Indians have two more problems. First, they're losing their traditional
values and deep understandings of man and nature. Instead, they're becoming shallow
and materialistic in the pursuit of more money. And now the Indians have another
addiction after alcohol: gambling.
Be careful whose "help" you accept.
Everyone offering help isn't sincere.
"Why We Don't Celebrate Thanksgiving" On Solidarity, Not Charity this Sunday, 16:00
- 17:00 (4:00 p.m.- 5:00 p.m.) U.S. Eastern Time on UhuruRadio.com. Join a
discussion exposing the roots of the U.S. holiday known as "Thanksgiving", which
celebrates the white colonists' theft of indigenous land and genocide of indigenous
peoples in North America African People's Solidarity Committee Chairwoman Penny Hess
will talk live with Kahentinetha Horn, about the North American Indian Holocaust. A
member of the Mohawk Nation, Horn is editor of Mohawk Nation News.
A long-time fighter for the rights of indigenous peoples, Horn was involved in the
blocking of the International Bridge at Akwesasne in 1968. In 1990, she was behind
the Canadian Army razor wires that surrounded the Mohawk compound in Kanehsatake,
known as the "Oka Crisis". She was fired by the Department of Indian Affairs for her
involvement in the "Oka Crisis". Call in and talk live with this heroic leader of
indigenous resistance. This program is Part 1 of a 2-part series. Part 2, on
November 26, will feature a live interview with a representative of Union del
Barrio, a revolutionary Mexican liberation organization based in Southern
California. They will discuss topics including the indigenous roots of Mexican
people, the theft of Mexican land by the U.S., and the current battle over the