First official document proclaiming
As we know it today
Came after the event below
The year was 1637.....700 men, women and children of the Pequot Tribe,
gathered for their "Annual Green Corn Dance" in the area that is now known
as Groton, Conn.
While they were gathered in this place of meeting, they were surrounded
and attacked by mercenaries of the English and Dutch. The Indians were
ordered from the building and as they came forth, they were shot down. The
rest were burned alive in the building.
The next day, the Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony declared : "A
day of Thanksgiving, thanking God that they had eliminated over 700 men,
women and children. For the next 100 years, every "Thanksgiving Day"
ordained by a Governor or President was to honor that victory, thanking
God that the battle had been won.
Source: Documents of Holland, 13 Volume Colonial Documentary History,
letters and reports form colonial officials to their superiors and the
King in England and the private papers of Sir William Johnson, British
Indian agent for the New York colony for 30 years. Researched by William
B. Newell (Penobscot Tribe) Former Chairman of the University of
Connecticut Anthropology Department.
"Thanksgiving" a National Day of Mourning
An editorial by Publisher/Editor - Terri J Andrews
Never before in the history of America has a subset of this country's
population been so misrepresented, lied about, and viciously condemned and
criticized than the Native American Indians. Our own history books present
a censored and false past that glorifies the "proud, pure and righteous"
settlers, while stereotyping the original inhabitants as wild savages in
war bonnets, running through the forest looking for food and scalping
innocent children and women.
Take a look through a child's history book and you will often note an
image of the pilgrims, colonists and pioneers that include log cabins, the
pursuit of religious freedom and a strong sense of community. Now look for
references to the Native peoples - words such as "primitive", "massacre",
"Earth Gods" and "religious rituals" fill those same pages. Often times,
paintings of the Native Indians hiding behind trees with tomahawks,
watching the unsuspecting Europeans, are wrongly depicted to children.
This is a common thread woven through the fabric of American history - a
lie that ties together a past built on stolen tradition and absent
information retold in books authored by non-Native Americans.
The Thanksgiving holiday is a perfect example of censorship and the
rewriting of truth. A portrait painted of the friendly Indians and the
openhearted pilgrims coming together to feast after a long, sorry winter
is accepted and tolerated by the American community. But this portrait is
not correct. The story is much deeper than that; so much deeper that the
Native American Indian community calls this day - The National Day of
Mourning - and stages rallies to protest the holiday. Their reasons are
valid. The true story of Thanksgiving is not something a country should be
Pilgrims and the Pure Truth
The Pilgrims of New England, who came to this country in 1620, were not
simple refugees from England fighting against oppression and religious
discrimination. They were political revolutionaries and part of the
Puritan movement, which was considered objectionable and unorthodox by the
King of the Church of England. They were outcasts in their own country,
plotting to take over the government, causing some of the settlers to
become fugitives in their own country.
These Puritan Pilgrims saw themselves as the "chosen elect", from the
Bibles’ Book of Revelations and traveled to America to build "The Kingdom
of God", also from Revelations. Strict with the scripture, they considered
an enemy of anyone who did not follow suit. These beliefs were eventually
transmitted to the other colonists, and the Puritan belief system quickly
spread across the New England area.
Plymouth Rock of 1620 - Myth or Fact?
This is from an account of the Pilgrims landing -from the book The
American Tradition. Is it myth or factual?
" After some exploring, the Pilgrims chose the land around Plymouth Harbor
for their settlement. Unfortunately, they arrived in December and were not
prepared for the New England weather. However, they were aided by friendly
Indians, who gave them food and showed them how to grow corn. When warm
weather came, the colonists planted, fished, hunted and prepared
themselves for the next winter. After harvesting their first crop, they
and their Indian friends celebrated the first Thanksgiving."
Answer - BOTH! The American Tradition account is a mix of myth and fact.
1. Yes, the "Pilgrims" did come to America in 1620.
2. Yes they were inapt to care for themselves due to the harshness of the
winter and their lack of stored food and supplies.
3. Yes, they did have a "feast".
1. They were NOT met by "friendly" Indians who waved them in from the
banks or welcomed their arrival. The Native people did not trust the
whites, having encountered such foreigners before and suffering severe
consequences. The Natives took pity on the settlers and only a (very) few
Native Americans were actually "friendly" to the newcomers.
2. The Native community did not help the colonists because of a deep
friendship, rather it was a custom of their culture and religion to help
those who were in need.
3. The two groups did NOT come together to celebrate the harvest, as
friends, and rejoice in the "first" Thanksgiving. They were meeting to
discuss land rights.
4. Lastly, it was NOT the first Thanksgiving. An Autumnal harvest and
banquet were a tradition of the Native people - a celebration that was a
part of their culture for centuries.
The REAL story of the "first" Thanksgiving
In December of 1620 a splinter group of England's Puritan movement set
anchor on American soil, a land already inhabited by the Wampanoag
Indians. Having been unprepared for the bitter cold weather, and arriving
too late to grow an adequate food supply, nearly half of the 100 settlers
did not survive the winter.
On March 16th, 1621, a Native Indian named Samoset met the Englishmen for
the first time. Samoset spoke excellent English, as did Squanto, another
bilingual Patuxet who would serve as interpreter between the colonist and
the Wampanoag Indians, who, lead by Chief Massasoit, were dressed as
fierce warriors and outnumbered the settlers.
The Wampanoag already had a long history with the white man. For 100 years
prior to the Pilgrim landing, they had encounters with European fishermen,
as well as those who worked for slave traders. They had witnessed their
communities being raided and their people stolen to be sold into slavery.
They did not trust the newcomers.
But Squanto was an exception. He had lived with the British, after being
captured by an earlier sailing vessel. He had a deep fondness for the
Europeans - particularly that for a British Explorer named John Weymouth,
who treated Squanto like a son.
Chief Massasoit and Samoset arrived at the colony with over 60 men, plus
Squanto, who acted as a mediator between the two parties. Squanto was
successful at making a peaceful agreement, though it is most likely that
there was a great deal of friction between the Native community and the
The Englishmen felt that the Native peoples were instruments of the devil
because of their spiritual beliefs and trusted only the Christian-baptized
Squanto. The Native people were already non-trusting of the white man,
except for Squanto, who looked at the Europeans as being of "Johns
It was Squanto who then moved to the English colony and taught them to
hunt, trap, fish and to cultivate their own crops. He educated them on
natural medicine and living off the land. A beloved friend of the
Pilgrims, for if it wasn’t for him, they would not if survived. The
Puritan Pilgrims thought of him as an Instrument of God.
Several months later the Wampanoag and the Pilgrims decided to meet again
to negotiate a land treaty needed by the settlers. They hoped to secure
land to build the Plymouth Plantation for the Pilgrims. The Native people
agreed to meet for a 3-day negotiation "conference". As part of the
Wampanoag custom - or perhaps out of a sense of charity towards the host -
the Native community agreed to bring most of the food for the event.
The peace and land negotiations were successful and the Pilgrims acquired
the rights of land for their people.
In 1622 propaganda started to circulate about this "First
Thanksgiving". Mourts Relation, a book written to publicize the so-called
"wonderfulness" of Plymouth, told of the meeting as a friendly feast with
the Natives. The situation was glamorized by the Pilgrims, possibly in an
effort to encourage more Puritans to settle in their area. By stating that
the Native community was warm and open-armed, the newcomers would be more
likely to feel secure in their journey to New England.
The sad, sad truth (what happened next)
What started as a hope for peace between the settlers and the Wampanoag,
ended in the most sad and tragic way. The Pilgrims, once few in number,
had now grown to well over 40,000 and the Native American strength had
weakened to less than 3,000. By 1675, one generation later, tension had
grown between the Europeans and the Native Indians. The Wampanoag called
in reinforcements from other surrounding tribes.
Metacomet, her and son of Chief Massasoit, became Chief of the Wampanoag
Nation. The English, who referred to Metacomet as King Phillip, started a
war between the two parties when they unjustly tried and convicted three
innocent Wampanoags of murdering an Englishman, John Sassamon, even though
it was well know and accepted that Sassamon’s death was truthfully caused
by an accidental fall in a frozen pond.
Metacomet, furious and in despair, sought revenge for the deaths of his
tribesmen by declaring war. The settlers killed another Native man, hence
settling off the beginning of what is now known as "King Phillips War."
Many Native communities throughout Massachusetts and Connecticut rallied
with the Wampanoags, but the power of the English was overpowering.
Metacomet moved many of his people to New York. Sadly, his wife and
9-year-old son were captured and sold into slavery. Brokenhearted, he
returned to his homeland - and soon killed.
His death ends the Kings Phillips War and the remaining Wampanoags, and
their allies, were either killed or deported as slaves for thirty
shillings each. This slave trade was so successful that several Puritan
ship owners began a slave-trading business by raiding the coast for Native
American Indians and trading them for black slaves of Africa. The black
slaves were then sold to colonists in the south. Hence, the Pilgrims were
one of the founders of the American-based slave trading industry.
For many Native American Indians of present day, the traditional
"Thanksgiving" holiday is not recognized as the Pilgrim/Indian day
popularized in children’s history books; rather it is a day of sorrow and
shame. Sorrow for the fallen lives of those who were lost so long ago, and
shame for living in a country who honors people who used religion and
self-righteousness to condone murder, treachery and slavery.
For the many in the Native community, "Thanksgiving" is a day to reflect
on what has happened (past and present); to pray to the Creator that more
people will know of the truth and show respect towards the fallen culture;
to fast the body; to protest the commercialization of Thanksgiving; to
share their time with the less fortunate in soup kitchens or shelters; and
some take part in a family meal, honoring the spirit of Chief Massasoit
and his initial charity and intentions of the Wampanoag Indians — who
first came to initiate a peace agreement between them and the newcomers.
Celebrating the spirit of the holiday - without the propaganda that is
attached, is a respectful way to share the day with the Native American
people. Understanding the true historical significance of their
contributions to the day, as well as what the consequences of their
efforts led to be, is even more important. Without the assistance of
Squanto, and the agreement for peace made between the two cultures, I find
it unlikely that the settlers would have lived so well or even lived at
The Native people died so that the colony could flourish. They need to be
remembered, respected and mourned. With them - the Native forefathers - is
a much better place to lay your fondness and your thanks.
It is with their spirit of generosity and charity that you should place
your foundation for a true and honest "Thanksgiving."