The Chomp

The Student News Site of Gateway Regional High School

The Chomp

The Student News Site of Gateway Regional High School

The Chomp

The Student News Site of Gateway Regional High School

On the Origins of Thanksgiving

Exactly How did Thanksgiving Start?
Hazel Foster
Original Canva Creation by Hazel Foster, who wants readers to contrast what they expect with what they don’t know about the holiday

Thanksgiving – a day for family, friends, delicious food, and giving thanks. Many families are ecstatic for the thanksgiving festivities that come around once a year! Although, a large part of the people who celebrate Thanksgiving don’t know how it came to be. In fact, a good chunk of the population – including those who don’t celebrate it – aren’t sure of how it originated.

During many peoples’ elementary years, they are taught that Thanksgiving is dated back to the Pilgrims of Plymouth in 1620, that ‘friendly’ Native Americans guided the pilgrims on how to survive in the ‘New World.’ But sadly, the truth is that Thanksgiving dates before then – and its origin isn’t as uplifting.

Decades before the Pilgrims came to the New World, in 1565, members of the Seloy Tribe and Spanish settlers had a small feast to celebrate religion. However, there are people who don’t count that as the first Thanksgiving. Instead, they say the first Thanksgiving was in 1637. This is when the Massachusetts Bay Colony’s governor, John Winthrop, had freshly declared a day to recognize soldiers who had murdered hundreds of kids, women, and men.

Due to Abraham Lincoln, more people were informed about the pilgrim story instead of the actual happenings of the first Thanksgiving. Since more people know about the false story, the true history of what happened with the Wampanoag and the English is starting to be erased. The chief of the Wampanoag paramount, Massasoit, had an alliance with the English settlers once Plymouth was established. They fought with many French newcomers and those of other tribes. Although, over time, this alliance began to strain.

Thousands of English settlers began to take over the land and to better control it, authorities asserted control over, “most aspects of Wampanoag life,” according to the book Historic Contact: Indian People and Colonists in Today’s Northeastern United States. Most of the Indigenous population was wiped out due to quick-spread diseases. 90% of the population was deceased by the time 1620 rolled around. 

By the time King Phillip got leadership, the alliance had frayed. King Phillip’s men were put to death for the murders of the Punkapoag interpreter along with John Sassamon, the Christian converter. The warriors of Wampanoag responded to these executions with raids, and in 1675, war was declared by the New England Confederation of Colonies. The deaths of this war took up 30% of the English population and around half of the Native American population (in New England). Unfortunately, this war was only one of the violent acts connected to Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is truly a holiday surrounded by violence, murder, greed, and even racism. No one is going to prevent you from enjoying the holiday as it is and believing the tale of the pilgrims, but if the true origin made you rethink celebrating it, here are alternative options to celebrating it.

Many people use it as a mourning day for all those who were lost. Others keep it as a Thanksgiving, but now they are thankful that events like that aren’t as prominent. Some even refer to Thanksgiving as “takesgiving” or “The Thanksgiving Massacre.” As previously said, how you celebrate the holiday is completely up to you. Hopefully, this article helped broaden your outlook on the whitewashed history of it all.

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About the Contributor
Hazel Foster, Staff Writer
Hi! My name is Hazel Foster, and I try to write mostly about universal topics and/or things that’d be interesting to the majority! I’m a freshman, but I’ve been here at Gateway since 7th grade, although this is my first year writing in THE CHOMP. I love animals, nature, decorating things, my boyfriend, Dance Moms, and writing!
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