Every year, millions of kindergarteners in the United States learn of the heartwarming events of the first Thanksgiving. Tales of food, fellowship, hospitality, and home have been passed on through the generations. Little do these 5-year-olds know that their beloved Native Americans and Pilgrims did not enjoy such a festive night.
First of all, the pilgrims’ entrance was not as heartening as it is made out to be. A great many of the Puritans did not survive the brutal trip over. In a tremendous act of hospitality, the Wampanoag tribe of Native Americans graciously allowed these strangers into their territory and helped restore their health. While the pilgrims lay around whining, the Native Americans offered all of their tricks and tips for how to live in Plymouth Rock efficiently.
The kinds of demeanors we associate with the Native Americans and Pilgrims nowadays is terribly misinterpreted. The traditional scene of the friendly Native Americans and Church of England getting along, preparing food, and playing games is completely false. After all, would we be protesting the Washington Redskins’ name if this were true?
The Native Americans offered to the Pilgrims all of the food that they had access to; and legend has it, the first feast the groups shared included fowl as the main course. Obviously, this dish did not meet the picky pilgrims’ expectations, otherwise we would all be slaving over the stove cooking fowl rather than turkey today.
Also, the Native Americans are known for immersing themselves in nature and living an extremely active, healthy lifestyle. On the first feast, I do not doubt that pumpkin, corn and potatoes were devoured; however, the holiday has been so Americanized that all of these originally organic, fresh, and nourishing foods have become processed, sugary side dishes.
Our habit of sensationalizing Thanksgiving has been going on for far too long. It is time we tell our children the sad but true story and do the Native Americans some justice. However, this does not mean we can deny ourselves a food coma-inducing feast once a year.