The Real Story of the First Thanksgiving

Last week, we were excited to share with you the ways we’re honoring Native American culture and history throughout November, American Indian Heritage Month. November conjures many images and sentiments for people in the U.S., and chief among them is Thanksgiving. Sharing a meal with family or friends, reflecting on what we’re thankful for, it’s a holiday looked upon with fondness by many.

11-08-16-the-real-story-of-the-first-txIn the spirit of honoring Native history, it’s also important to consider the origins of Thanksgiving as we know it. The story commonly told – and commonly believed – is that pilgrims and Indians sat down for a meal to share their cultures and celebrate the harvest. In reality, the pilgrim story was invented and the national Thanksgiving holiday proclaimed for political reasons.

To learn the real story of the first Thanksgiving, as shared by historians of Squanto’s tribe – the Wampanoags – and the pilgrims in Plymouth Colony, go to our 2016 American Indian Heritage Month page, where you can download a compelling curated story that includes:

  • Why the pilgrims really came to America
  • Why the Thanksgiving holiday was really started
  • How Squanto already knew the English language when he first encountered the pilgrims
  • What really happened at “the first Thanksgiving”

Some additional eye-opening questions to ponder about the first Thanksgiving are:

  • Five different states have claimed to be the site of the first Thanksgiving – can you guess which ones?
  • The pilgrims didn’t land at Plymouth Rock – can you guess where they actually came ashore?
  • One element of the first Thanksgiving is true – can you guess what that is?

Some say Thanksgiving is celebrated at the expense of Native peoples, and while America celebrates a day of thanks with feasts and football, many Native Americans continue to live with disparities and economic hardships. You can’t change history, but knowing the real history could change you. Be sure to read “The Real Story of the First Thanksgiving” and learn more in part two, “After the First Thanksgiving,” also available from our 2016 Heritage Month page.

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