The tragic truth of Thanksgiving: the tribe that helped the pilgrims is still sorry 400 years later

Each third Thursday in November on USA celebrate the Thanksgiving Day, date when everyone gets together as a family, they have dinner on traditional turkey and thank life for all what they received during the year ongoing, both the good and the bad.

This commemoration is cause for rejoicing, reflection and even party in some cities, where there are usually spectacular parades to remember when the English ancestors who came to the country of the stars and stripes had good harvests Thanks to the help from the natives of what we know today as Massachusetts.

Throughout time, many have dared to affirm that written history is nothing more than the version of the victors, and in this case, it is no exception. What for most American families is a holiday, for the few descendants of the Wampanoag tribe, Thanksgiving is your National Day of Mourning.

In recent months, the issue of conquest at the hands of Europeans more than five centuries ago has been the subject of controversial discussions in the American continent, since it seeks to clean the memory of the indigenous peoples who fell or subjected during the so-called “discovery from America”.

In the case of the United States, it is the Wampanoag who continue to resist more than 400 years after the arrival of the English pilgrims aboard the Mayflower, a ship that arrived at the plymouth coast.

The arrival of the pilgrims to Plymouth

The Wampanoag, a tribe originally from Plymouth, were the first to see the arrival of the pilgrims to their lands in the far 1621. A report in The Washingotn Post relates that by then They were distributed in some 69 villages and each one had its leader or sachem and a healer. They lived in abundance because their lands were suitable for growing corn and they had the possibility of fishing various species in the rivers and the coasts.

Although they had already established business relationships with some explorers since a century ago, it was not until the arrival of the pilgrims that the end of their tribe began. In 1614, a leader of the Wampanoag was taken along with 20 other men as slaves to Spain and when he returned to his lands he found only death and desolation: his brothers had been practically exterminated by a mysterious disease, which historians consider could be smallpox or yellow fever.

Six years later, the Mayflower arrived, a boat that brought with it entire English families. The natives watched over them for months, but by the time winter came, many of the foreigners died as a result of the extreme temperatures. The first “contact” between the two sides of history did not occur until the spring of 1621.

This was the “first” Thanksgiving Day in Plymouth

After that first contact of the Wampanoag with the pilgrims, the original people closely watched the foreigners, but at the same time They taught them to plant beans, squash, and corn as well as to create ferilizer from fish scraps.. By the time the autumn of 1621 came, the english had good harvests and they celebrated it with a party, which became what we know today as the Thanksgiving Day.

But the Wampanoag were not invited to the party, and that is something that still stings to this day. It was only when the English detonated weapons in their revelry and caught the attention of the locals that they would have deigned to treat them to a little of what they were consuming. In that party there was everything, grains, deer, seafood and birds to distribute in piles.

This, coupled with the popular belief that Native Americans wore Apache-style feathers 400 years ago it is not true, says the writer David J. Silverman in his book This Land Is Their Land, published in 2020. The original people of Plymouth (now Massachusetts) were totally different from how history portrays them, at most they carried a mohawk (mohawk) made from porcupine hair, says the author.

This version of the first Thanksgiving, and the stereotype that Native American descendants still carry, is something their descendants still struggle with.

The beginning of the end for the Wampanoag

Descendants of the Wampanoag related to WP that Thanksgiving Day portrays an idea that their ancestors welcomed the pilgrims with open arms and that they brought them a better life expectancy. But it is not true. Mother Bear, a woman who seeks to rescue her native roots, said that In 1789 a law was made official in which teaching a Wampanoag Indian to write or read was a cause of death..

In addition to this, the English did everything to deprive them of their lands and they were forced to adopt Christianity as a religion: “We had a pray or die policy, if you didn’t convert, you had to flee or die,” the woman explained. Then came the worst, because the colonizing pilgrimss they sent the children to boarding schools to take away their “Indian customs”, such as long hair or your mother tongue.

“Welcoming and befriending the pilgrims was the Wampanoag’s worst mistake“said the activist Frank james, because after colonization very few villages remained, to the extent that more than three centuries later, could not be recognized as an original tribe by the United States government.

It was but until 2007 they were given federal recognition as a tribe, to more than three decades since they had requested it to establish their National Day of Mourning. Now, 400 years after the betrayal of the pilgrims, the Wampanoag continue fighting to regain the lands that belonged to their ancestors and they have hopes pinned on Deb haaland, the first Home Secretary to be a Native American.

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