November 24, 2011 - Thanksgiving Day and the National Day of Mourning

It's always nice to have a harvest festival—although most of us live in cities, far from farmlands, and eat produce from innumerable harvests all over the world!

It's also nice to have a day set aside to be thankful about the good things in our lives.

However, some people do not see Thanksgiving as a happy holiday that harkens back to a wonderful feast enjoyed by “Pilgrims” and “Indians,” cooking and eating together in peace. Some people see it as a day to regret the way things turned out for the native peoples who lived in the Plymouth area and elsewhere in the Americas. Instead of gathering together with family over a roasted turkey and televised football, they gather together to hear speeches about the truth behind the mythologized Pilgrim/Indian feast.

Since 1970, these gatherings have been called the National Day of Mourning.

This is not how it was at the first Thanksgiving!
Massasoit was the leader of the
Wampanoag tribe.
Even though most sources I have consulted indicate that the first Thanksgiving was indeed a harvest festival, as I described in this 2010 post, some sources claim that the 3-day event was actually a meeting between English “Pilgrims” and Wampanoag “Indians” to discuss land rights. 

According to Turquoise Butterfly, the Wampanoag brought most of the food eaten during the meeting, because that was what their culture dictated as the polite thing to do.

To learn more...
...about the history of Thanksgiving, check out this earlier post.

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