May the reality that
I cannot know the whole truth
Give me freedom to talk
about the part I can see
rather than paralyze me.

Prayer: Forty Days of Practice, Justin McRoberts

AMERICA’S ORIGIN story is deeply tied to Thanksgiving and the Pilgrims. Unfortunately, much of what we have been taught in school is not true. Below are our favorite resources to relearn Thanksgiving. We highly recommend starting your learning in prayer and engaging with our framework to help prepare your heart and mind to learn.


READ: The Myth of Thanksgiving and Racial Conciliation / Mark Charles
Navajo author Mark Charles says that Thanksgiving is built on a “mythological potluck celebrated by Native Americans and Pilgrims back in the ‘Good ole Days.'” That myth is deeply hurtful to indigenous people. Does that mean we need to stop celebrating Thanksgiving? No, but we should recognize the wounds that are still open and not perpetuate the myths associated with Thanksgiving.

READ: Thanksgiving Reconsidered: 5 Practices for a Decolonized Thanksgiving / Erina Kim-Eubanks
If you are looking to change the narrative around Thanksgiving, pastor Erina Kim-Eubanks has several practical ideas. Some of these include researching the land you live on, (re)learning history, extending hospitality, and changing the narrative around Thanksgiving.


LISTEN: What’s the real history behind Thanksgiving? / CBS This Morning
SUMMARY: 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.

LISTEN: That Brunch in the Forest / Sidedoor
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.


WATCH: The First Thanksgiving: What Really Happened / Uncivil History
In an engaging six minutes, Uncivil History gives the context surrounding the Pilgrims arrival on the shores of the New World, while dispelling some of the common myths associated with Thanksgiving.


READ: This Land is Their Land / David Silverman
Most Americans have learned about Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims at the center of the story. A story about a people fleeing religious persecution and landing on the shore of a wild, uncivilized country where they are befriended and saved by kind natives. They celebrate Thanksgiving and live happily ever after. It is a deeply ingrained origin story about the beginning of the United States. Not surprisingly, much of the Thanksgiving story is a myth.

READ: The First Thanksgiving / Robert Tracy McKenzie
Heroes. Brothers and sisters in Christ. Freedom fighters. Most Americans hold the Pilgrims in high regard, but unfortunately, many of these beliefs would be rejected by Pilgrims today- not the least a scheduled day of Thanksgiving. Why does it mattter?

WATCH: The Pilgrims / PBS
While The Pilgrims won’t win any awards for being the most exciting documentary (this was directed by Ric Burns, the younger brother of Ken Burns), what it excels at is showing the context that caused the Pilgrims to make the radical decision to cross the Atlantic ocean with little chance of surviving. In two hours, the film traces the Pilgrims’ reasons for leaving England and then Holland, the excruciating passage on the Mayflower, surviving in New England (and the context they arrived in), and how the Pilgrims established a foothold in the New World that changed the balance of power forever.

More curated content on Thanksgiving:

BOOK: Prayer

A guileless book consisting of 40 short, beautiful prayers and accompanying artwork that is meant to be pondered. Author Justin McRoberts and illustrator Scott Erickson crafted Prayer, with minimal words, but an affluence of knowledge on prayer, liturgy, and prayer practices.

Read more

ARTICLE: Five Myths About the Pilgrims

Did you know that the Pilgrims had a fondness for colorful clothing and not the stereotypical plain, black wardrobe that is normally depicted? Did you know that religious freedom was not the primary motivation for the Pilgrims to cross the Atlantic? Our favorite Thanksgiving historian Robert Tracy McKenzie debunks five myths that are commonly associated with the Pilgrims.

Read more

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