The Untold Story After the First Thanksgiving

img_8659-heritage-blog-post-smWe are continuing our theme of honoring Native American culture and history throughout November, American Indian Heritage Month. Last week, we were excited to share with you the real story of the first Thanksgiving, curated from accounts by the ancestors of the Indians who were there, and the pilgrims who inhabited Plymouth Colony. This week we take a closer look at what happened next – after the first Thanksgiving.

For many people, the story of Thanksgiving stops at the harvest and the “happy ending.” Often people never stop to think what happened next – in the same way many never think about what happened in Native history after the treaties and the reservations. Yet Native history didn’t stop there and neither did the realities of the first Thanksgiving.

The rest of the story untold is how that first harvest marked the end of pilgrim reliance on their tribal neighbors, and the relationship brutally changed. In return for their charity and compassion, the Wampanoag and other tribes got genocide, loss of land and centuries of oppression.

To grasp the untold story after the first Thanksgiving, one need only look at realities on the reservations and realize that history and policies, then and now, have shaped the most adverse challenges of modern Native life. To learn more, go to, where you can download a telling story that includes:

  • What happened within 10 years after the first Thanksgiving
  • Surprising eras of U.S. policies toward the tribes
  • The legacy left for Natives in the wake of U.S. history and policies

Some illuminating questions to ponder are:

  • Americans celebrate Thanksgiving with feasts and football – why do many Native people consider Thanksgiving a National Day of Mourning?
  • Family is essential – can you guess why Native children were removed from their homes?
  • As a group, Native Americans suffer the highest poverty in the U.S. – can you guess what percent of U.S. giving supports Native causes?

You can’t change history, but knowing the real history could change you. Be sure to read “The Untold Story After the First Thanksgiving” on If you didn’t catch part one, “The Real Story of the First Thanksgiving,” be sure to read it first! And visit us next Tuesday for one Sioux Elder’s take on Thanksgiving.

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