SUMMARY: Like many American celebrations, Thanksgiving has been romanticized and mythologized. True, the Wampanoag and the Pilgrims did work together for almost a generation, but the story does not end there – it is messy and complicated. Genocide, white supremacy, and forced boarding schooling are just some of the tactics that were used by white people to control the indigenous population. Does this mean we need to stop celebrating Thanksgiving? Absolutely not, but we need to tell the whole story. Skip to the 4 min mark to get to the interview with George Fox professor of faith and culture Randy Woodley.
Note that this was published in 2016, so some of the conversation centers around events (Dakota pipeline) at that time.
KEY QUOTE: “The American myth of Thanksgiving is that here (are) the settlers on the land (and) there is no talk of what happens to that land after that. It’s just that they got along good and for three days they had this festival together and they lived happily ever after and no one questions, ‘Well what happened to the native Americans after that?’ The story is treacherous and ugly that our mythology only puts in the things that we want to look good about.”
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DID YOU KNOW? We have a learning capsule about Thanksgiving with resources to help faithfully learn about the holiday.
More curated podcasts on Thanksgiving:
Although the Pilgrims have been centered and elevated in the myth of Thanksgiving that does not mean we should eliminate their narrative nor does it mean we cannot learn from them. History professor Robert Tracy McKenzie dispels some of the common myths associated with the Pilgrims, discusses why it is important to learn the truth about the past, and suggests how we can incorporate Thanksgiving into our everyday lives. The interview occurs in the first half of the podcast and ends at the 17:40 mark.Read more
Americans have been fascinated with Native Americans since arriving in the 1600’s. Native American culture, symbols, and names surround us, from mascots to the names of streets and mountains to the packaging of food. In an enlightening interview, the National Museum of the American Indian curator Paul Chaat Smith discusses the need to look at history with nuance, and in the case of Thanksgiving, avoid the oversimplification of both sides of the story.Read more
This is an excellent 25-minute history lesson from author and historian Kenneth C. Davis on the Thanksgiving between the Pilgrims and Wampanoag, which includes facts not taught in many schools. This is a great primer to dispel the myths ingrained in the holiday.Read more