“Though many competing claims exist, the most familiar story of the first Thanksgiving took place in Plymouth Colony, in present-day Massachusetts, in 1621. More than 200 years later, President Abraham Lincoln declared the final Thursday in November as a national day of thanksgiving. Congress finally made Thanksgiving Day an official national holiday in 1941.”
As we are taught in elementary school about the first Thanksgiving, there is always the story that is untold. If lucky we don’t truly learn about the first Thanksgiving until maybe high school or perhaps college. For me obviously I learned it through family and through research. It’s practicly embedded into my DNA to take an interest in history. I don’t want to really want to get into the several celebrations of thanks that the natives took part in. Such as Strawberry Thanksgiving and Green Corn Thanksgiving. I’m more interested in when and how and why the Thanksgiving we celebrate today was influenced to our ancestors.
The more recognized first Thanksgiving in Plymouth during 1621 involved 90 plus Wampanoag tribe members coming together with the colonists and celebrating for three days with food, drink, and games. Which was done similar to the colonists celebrations back in England. Native American tribes throughout the Americas held harvest festivals, ceremonial dances, and other celebrations of thanks centuries before the arrival of Pilgrims. Tribes including the Pueblo, Cherokee, and Creek.
The truth of when the colonists actually had the first Thanksgiving is said to be in the summer of 1623. Though it has been found that feasts celebrating thanks by the colonists can be dated back to 1619 when Captain John Woodlief thanked God for a safe and healthy arrive to the New World. It can be debated that this is the first thanksgiving. I personally disagree and I believe from what I read that a more suitable setting for the first Thanksgiving was not a celebration. But more a progress in co-existing with Indians rather than befriending them, thus resulting in their help in the survival of winter. I find this in the accounts given by the infamous John Smith of Jamestown, Virginia an example. After all we are taught that the Native Americans brought us food while we gave them supplies. Though it is noted that reinforcements arrived to help as well. Hence, Thanksgiving.
It could also simply be a tradition passed down by ancestors who may or may not feel that Native American helped played a role. Not enough evidence is present to support either opposing points of view on the matter. The first Thanksgiving can be debated either by record or by what may have influenced the holiday that later become official and national by one of our most moving presidents. I personally think that we should give thanks for the help in survival of establishing roots in America rather than by a large meal. Still, if we are to teach that the Natives were involved, why don’t we look more at what they did for us. Even if eventually they were forced to be set apart by pale-face thought.