Friday, December 28, 2012

thankstaking- Native American Pequot Tribe's 1637 Thanksgiving: A Travesty Options People are taught about the First Thanksgiving which was celebrated by Pilgrims and Wampanoagans in 1621, but history seems to ignore the 1637 travesty. Jill Stefko By Jill Stefko on Nov 16, 2010 1 comment First Thanksgiving Led to Pequot Massacre - Public Domain Wiki Commons ( ) US schoolchildren learn about the first Thanksgiving when Pilgrims and the Wampanoagans, also “Wampanoags,” celebrated their first harvest in by giving thanks and feasting. Samoset and Squanto taught the Pilgrims planting and other survival skills, so Pilgrim leader Captain Miles Standish invited them, Chief Massasoit and other Wampanoagans to the three day celebration. Wampanoagan Roots of Thanksgiving The Wampanoagans had six yearly harvest festivals. The Maple Dance, thanking the Creator for maple trees and their syrup, was the beginning of their new year. Next was the Planting Feast, when seeds were blessed, followed by the Strawberry Festival, celebrating the first fruits of the season. Summer’s Green Corn Festival gave thanks for ripening corn and late fall’s Harvest Festival gave thanks for the harvested crops, which coincides with the first Thanksgiving. There’s a dearth of information about the Midwinter Festival, the last one of the old year. First Thanksgiving: Squanto’s Journeys Squanto, a member of the Pokanokit Wampanoagan Nation, was from Patuxet. In 1605, he traveled to England with English explorer John Weymouth, where he learned the language. After he returned to New England Squanto was captured by a British slaver and sold to Spaniards in the Caribbean Islands. A Franciscan priest helped him get to England via Spain. Squanto found Weymouth, who paid his way home. While in England, Squanto met Samoset, Wabanake Tribe member, who also left New England with an English explorer. They returned to Patuxet in 1620. When they arrived, they found a deserted village and skeletons of those who had died from smallpox, which English slavers brought with them. They stayed with neighboring Wampanoagans. In the spring of 1621, Squanto and Samoset were hunting near Patuxet and saw Pilgrims in the deserted village. They watched the colonists for several days before they approached them and offered to teach them New World survival skills. Pequot Tribe’s 1637 Thanksgiving Massacre When news spread in England about the New World paradise, more Puritans and others immigrated. They considered the land as public domain because there were no fences. Colonists seized land, captured AmerIndians for slaves and killed the rest. The Pequot Nation hadn’t agreed to the peace treaty Squanto negotiated and fought back in what’s called “The Pequot War.” In 1637, over 700 Pequot men, women and children gathered for their Green Corn Festival. In the predawn morning, they were surrounded by Dutch and English mercenaries who ordered them to come outside. Those who obeyed were shot or clubbed to death while women and children huddled inside the longhouse and were burned alive. The next day the governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony declared this travesty "A Day of Thanksgiving" because helpless people were murdered. The 1637 massacre happened because colonists wanted revenge for a murder of an English trader who kidnapped children. They suspected Pequots killed him. William Bradford, in his History of the Plymouth Plantation, celebrated the travesty as a victory, and Pilgrims thanked God for giving them swift triumph over their enemy. Future “Thanksgiving” Massacres Led to the Holiday’s Recognition Colonists and their AmerIndian allies attacked more villages. Women and children over the age of fourteen were sold into slavery; the rest, murdered. Ships full of slaves left New England. Bounties were paid for AmerIndian scalps. Churches, in what is now Stamford, Connecticut, declared a second day of "thanksgiving" to celebrate victory over “heathen savages.” Colonists kicked decapitated Pequots’ heads through the streets while they feasted. Wampanoagans weren’t immune from persecution. Their chief‘s decapitated head, impaled on a pole in Plymouth, Massachusetts, was on display.

“Thanksgiving” celebrations were held after all massacres. George Washington suggested that one day of “thanksgiving” each year was to be commemorated, instead of celebrating every massacre. Later, Abraham Lincoln decreed Thanksgiving Day to be a legal national holiday on the same day he ordered troops to march against the starving Minnesota Sioux.

Thanksgiving Illusions about Pilgrims These Pilgrims, Puritans, weren’t merely religious conservatives persecuted by the English King for their beliefs. They were revolutionaries who intended to overthrow the government. The English considered the Puritans as religious bigots who wanted to found a new nation, independent from England. The New England Puritans used any tactics, including treachery, torture and genocide to achieve their goals. Pilgrims viewed AmerIndians as heathens, instruments of the Devil. Squanto, the only baptized Christian, was regarded as an instrument of God to provide for their survival as his chosen people. Increase Mather, in a 1623 “thanksgiving” sermon, gave prayers of gratitude to God for the smallpox plague which wiped out many Wampanoagans. The Wampanoagans didn’t totally trust the colonists. Squanto loved Weymouth who had been his mentor and, most likely, thought the Pilgrims were like him. One of his tribe’s religious traditions was to give charity to the vulnerable and hospitality to anyone who came to them with needs. The Wampanoagans, who supplied most of the feasts’ food, were invited to the first Thanksgiving celebration to negotiate a treaty that would secure Plymouth Plantation’s land, former Patuxet site, for the Pilgrims Pequot Tribe’s 1637 Thanksgiving Massacre: A Tragedy The Pequots weren’t the only AmerIndians who were persecuted. Cherokees and other Eastern tribes endured the Trail of Tears, Nunna daul Tsuny, “The Trail Where They Cried," when they were ousted from their land and traveled a thousand miles to “Indian Territory” in the West. Approximately 4,000 AmerIndians died during the journey. An estimated 150 to 300 Lakota Sioux men, women and children were killed and 51 wounded in the Wounded Knee massacre. The list goes on…. Thanksgiving should be a time for showing gratitude for food and fellowship, but, to the AmerIndians who suffered from the “thanksgiving” massacres, it wasn’t. Is All That Turkey and Stuffing a Celebration of Genocide? By Laura Elliff, Vice President, Native American Student Association Thanksgiving is a holiday where families gather to share stories, football games are watched on television and a big feast is served. It is also the time of the month when people talk about Native Americans. But does one ever wonder why we celebrate this national holiday? Why does everyone give thanks? History is never simple. The standard history of Thanksgiving tells us that the “Pilgrims and Indians” feasted for three days, right? Most Americans believe that there was some magnificent bountiful harvest. In the Thanksgiving story, are the “Indians” even acknowledged by a tribe? No, because everyone assumes “Indians” are the same. So, who were these Indians in 1621? In 1620, Pilgrims arrived on the Mayflower naming the land Plymouth Rock. One fact that is always hidden is that the village was already named Patuxet and the Wampanoag Indians lived there for thousands of years. To many Americans, Plymouth Rock is a symbol. Sad but true many people assume, “It is the rock on which our nation began.” In 1621, Pilgrims did have a feast but it was not repeated years thereafter. So, it wasn’t the beginning of a Thanksgiving tradition nor did Pilgrims call it a Thanksgiving feast. Pilgrims perceived Indians in relation to the Devil and the only reason why they were invited to that feast was for the purpose of negotiating a treaty that would secure the lands for the Pilgrims. The reason why we have so many myths about Thanksgiving is that it is an invented tradition. It is based more on fiction than fact. So, what truth ought to be taught? In 1637, the official Thanksgiving holiday we know today came into existence. (Some people argue it formally came into existence during the Civil War, in 1863, when President Lincoln proclaimed it, which also was the same year he had 38 Sioux hung on Christmas Eve.) William Newell, a Penobscot Indian and former chair of the anthropology department of the University of Connecticut, claims that the first Thanksgiving was not “a festive gathering of Indians and Pilgrims, but rather a celebration of the massacre of 700 Pequot men, women and children.” In 1637, the Pequot tribe of Connecticut gathered for the annual Green Corn Dance ceremony. Mercenaries of the English and Dutch attacked and surrounded the village; burning down everything and shooting whomever try to escape. The next day, Newell notes, the Governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony declared: “A day of Thanksgiving, thanking God that they had eliminated over 700 men, women and children.” It was signed into law that, “This day forth shall be a day of celebration and thanksgiving for subduing the Pequots.” Most Americans believe Thanksgiving was this wonderful dinner and harvest celebration. The truth is the “Thanksgiving dinner” was invented both to instill a false pride in Americans and to cover up the massacre. Was Thanksgiving really a massacre of 700 “Indians”? The present Thanksgiving may be a mixture of the 1621 three-day feast and the “Thanksgiving” proclaimed after the 1637 Pequot massacre. So next time you see the annual “Pilgrim and Indian display” in a shopping window or history about other massacres of Native Americans, think of the hurt and disrespect Native Americans feel. Thanksgiving is observed as a day of sorrow rather than a celebration. This year at Thanksgiving dinner, ponder why you are giving thanks. William Bradford, in his famous History of the Plymouth Plantation, celebrated the Pequot massacre: “Those that scraped the fire were slaine with the sword; some hewed to peeces, others rune throw with their rapiers, so as they were quickly dispatchte, and very few escapted. It was conceived they thus destroyed about 400 at this time. It was a fearful sight to see them thus frying in the fyer, and the streams of blood quenching the same, and horrible was the stincke and sente there of, but the victory seemed a sweete sacrifice, and they gave the prayers thereof to God, who had wrought so wonderfully for them, thus to inclose their enemise in their hands, and give them so speedy a victory over so proud and insulting an enimie.” The Pequot massacre came after the colonists, angry at the murder of an English trader suspected by the Pequots of kidnapping children, sought revenge. rather than fighting the dangerous Pequot warriors, John Mason and John Underhill led a group of colonists and Native allies to the Indian fort in Mystic, and killed the old men, women, and children who were there. Those who escaped were later hunted down. The Pequot tribe numbered 8,000 when the Pilgrims arrived, but disease had brought their numbers down to 1,500 by 1637. The Pequot “War” killed all but a handful of remaining members of the tribe. Proud of their accomplishments, Underhill wrote a book (above) depicted the burning of the village, and even made an illustration (below) showing how they surrounded the village to kill all within it.