The Real Story of Thanksgiving

Manataka – by Susan Bates

Most of us associate the holiday with happy Pilgrims and Indians sitting down to a big feast.  And that did happen – once.

The story began in 1614 when a band of English explorers sailed home to  England with a ship full of Patuxet Indians bound for slavery. They left behind smallpox which virtually wiped out those who had escaped.  By the time the Pilgrims arrived in Massachusetts Bay they found only one living Patuxet Indian, a man named Squanto who had survived slavery in England and knew their language.  He taught them to grow corn and to fish, and negotiated a peace treaty between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Nation. At the end of their first year, the Pilgrims held a great feast honoring Squanto and the Wampanoags.   

But as word spread in England about the paradise to be found in the new world, religious zealots called Puritans began arriving by the boat load. Finding no fences around the land, they considered it to be in the public domain. Joined by other British settlers, they seized land, capturing strong young Natives for slaves and killing the rest.  But the Pequot Nation had not agreed to the peace treaty Squanto had negotiated and they fought back. The Pequot War was one of the bloodiest Indian wars ever fought.

In 1637 near present day  Groton, Connecticut, over 700 men, women and children of the Pequot Tribe had gathered for their annual Green Corn Festival which is our Thanksgiving celebration. In the predawn hours the sleeping Indians were surrounded by English and Dutch mercenaries who ordered them to come outside.  Those who came out were shot or clubbed to death while the terrified women and children who huddled inside the longhouse were burned alive. The next day the governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony declared “A Day Of Thanksgiving” because 700 unarmed men, women and children had been murdered.

Cheered by their “victory”, the brave colonists and their Indian allies attacked village after village. Women and children over 14 were sold into slavery while the rest were murdered.  Boats loaded with a many as 500 slaves regularly left the ports of New England. Bounties were paid for Indian scalps to encourage as many deaths as possible.

Following an especially successful raid against the Pequot in what is now  Stamford, Connecticut, the churches announced a second day of “thanksgiving” to celebrate victory over the heathen savages.  During the feasting, the hacked off heads of Natives were kicked through the streets like soccer balls.  Even the friendly Wampanoag did not escape the madness. Their chief was beheaded, and his head impaled on a pole in Plymouth, Massachusetts — where it remained on display for 24 years.

The killings became more and more frenzied, with days of thanksgiving feasts being held after each successful massacre. George Washington finally suggested that only one day of Thanksgiving per year be set aside instead of celebrating each and every massacre. Later Abraham Lincoln decreed Thanksgiving Day to be a legal national holiday during the Civil War — on the same day he ordered troops to march against the starving Sioux in Minnesota.

This story doesn’t have quite the same fuzzy feelings associated with it as the one where the Indians and Pilgrims are all sitting down together at the big feast.  But we need to learn our true history so it won’t ever be repeated.  Next  Thanksgiving, when you gather with your loved ones to Thank God for all your blessings, think about those people who only wanted to live their lives and raise their families.  They, also took time out to say “thank you” to Creator for all their blessings.

Our Thanks to Hill & Holler Column by Susan Bates

2 thoughts on “The Real Story of Thanksgiving

  1. It didn’t sit well with all of the colonials, I live on the actual birthplace of a Mr Edward Rawson who became the 1st Secretary of Mass. and credited with giving one of the first formal “speeches” for Thanksgiving, he really believed in trying to bring about change from within and when it was apparent he could not, he dearly wanted to leave the US and come back to Dorset but died before he could, he was fairly outspoken against the barbarity to the natives but sadly a lone voice in a storm of pious ethnic cleansing.

    In a way Palestine today is a microcosm of America in its formation, for the US to become the land it is now, it had to purge the inhabitants, walling them into smaller and smaller enclaves and denying them even the meanest of rights. By the time the Crown had sent over sensible men with the intention of repairing the damage, the damage had gone too far and the natives finally learnt not to trust the white man but then it happened all again after independence no longer in the name of religion but in the names of greed and ignorance were the natives further reduced.

    Perhaps the truth about Princess Pocahontas should be reminded and another US lie uncovered too trying to shift blames from the real culprits

    1. I think most Americans know (while at the same time being in delusion) that Thanksgiving is NOT about celebrating with natives, but about their genocide…but what most do not realize is that it is this history that has unwittingly become part of the American national character (for instance, I have come to believe that Americans love war, and will continue to do so until war comes home), and may explain (aside from the obvious message drummed into us by the Jewish-owned media, which is now clearly associated with Mossad) why so few Americans have any empathy with the suffering of the Palestinian people.

      One of my “hobbies” on my Bible blog ( is rebuking Christian Zionists and exposing the evil of Christian Zionism, which puts Israel on the same footing as Christ and in fact is simply Zionism with a Christian face…these folks in a way are the Puritans of our day, calling for genocide under the guise of the false interpretation of Genesis 12:3 to “bless” Israel. Right. By cheering murder and mayhem on Palestians, including Palestinian Christians!

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