For most Americans, Thanksgiving is a time where family and friends gather together to "Thank God" for their "blessings" --which I find bizarre.  Traditionally, Thanksgiving is said to have originated with the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians who are said to have shared an autumn harvest feast in the year 1621, but the roots of Thanksgiving are deeper than that.  Harvest celebrations were common amongst many groups--from the the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans who feasted and paid tribute to their gods after the fall harvest to the Puritans themselves who already had  a tradition of providential holidays before they arrived in America, which included days of fasting during difficult or pivotal moments, and days of feasting and celebration to thank God in times of plenty.   I, however, see the Thanksgiving "celebration" in an entirely different light.  Like Christmas and Easter, I see Thanksgiving as a facade, a ruse, a lie--and an insult.  Let me tell you why.

After reading "American Holocaust" by David Stannard, among many other books on the subject, I came to realize that the "Puritans" were nothing short of barbaric, and the Christians who first came to America with the promise of owning land and being free to practice their own religion--did so at the expense of the Native Americans.  Ironically, those Puritans who came for land and the freedom to practice their own religion--took those rights away from the Native Americans.  Their lands, their freedom, and their religions were forcibly taken away from them in the name of "freedom" and the Christian god.   In the beginning, the Indians, being  altruistic, had helped the Christians survive when they first arrived by showing them how to tap maple trees for syrup, and showing them what plants were safe to eat, etc.  Many Indian tribes lived cooperatively, and routinely shared their bounty with others, so this was not an uncommon practice for them.  To repay them for their kindness however, the Christians stole the Indian's food, stole their land, and forced those that survived to adopt the white man's god. This persecution continued until almost all of them were either dead, or living on reservation land which was unsuitable for growing crops or grazing cattle--leaving them a poor and broken people.

In this process, which included many Natives dying because they had no immunity to the diseases the Christians brought with them, many groups of Native Americans were literally exterminated.   So what part did the Christian god play in all of this?  When the diseases that the Christians brought to the New World began to decimate populations of Native Americans, the Christians believed this was due to the "judgement of God" and they also believed this was a sign from God giving them permission to eliminate the Native Americans in other ways as well--as according to them, the Indians were savages anyway, and no better than animals.  The torture and genocide of the Native Americans was caused by Christians who believed they have "dominion" over the earth, and everything on it, and as David Stannard explains in "American Holocaust" this is typically how Christians "dominated" the Americas:

"Thousands of native people were killed, their villages and crops burned to the ground.  In a single early massacre 600 Indians were destroyed.  It was, says the recent account of two historians, "a seventeenth-century My Lai" in which the Christians "ran amok, killing the wounded men, women and children indiscriminately, firing the camp, burning the Indians alive or dead in their huts."  A delighted Cotton Mather, revered pastor of the Second Church in Boston, later referred to the slaughter as a "barbeque."  More butchery was to follow. " *

In reference to the slaughter and literal "hunting" of Native Americans (It was a popular sport in New England for a time), writers of the time expressed their feelings for the atrocities committed against the Native Americans by stating that it was, "God's Will which will at last give us cause to say, How Great is his Goodness! and how great is his Beauty!" and "thus doth the Lord Jesus make them to bow before him, and to lick the Dust."**

I encourage everyone who is interested in the history of what really happened to the Native Americans  to read "American Holocaust."  It could change the way you view the world.  I am thankful for my life, and for the fact I was lucky enough to be born in a wealthy country, and I pay it forward by donating to Food Banks, and other charities.  I doubt the small Christian children in Africa who are starving to death are thankful for much in life--which is another reason why I hate Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving in America is an excuse for gluttony--which is not only one of the "seven deadly sins"-- it is an insult to the starving in the world.  Instead of spending the money on the extravagance of Thanksgiving dinners at home, that money would be better spent feeding those who cannot feed themselves.  That would be a "real Thanksgiving."

* American Holocaust, David Stannard p. 115
** Ibid., p. 116

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Comment by Gianni Versatile on November 24, 2011 at 6:54pm

They did not embrace it, but rather indoctrinated from birth, so no questioned asked by many of them, just like us white folks. Here in Quebec almost all natives I know are Christians, but it does not stop there, their beliefs is mixed with the Christians belief too, what a mix. I tell them so many times ditch Christianity at least… as the native belief is not harmful at all.

Comment by Steve on November 24, 2011 at 7:13pm

The Puritans also oppressed other Christian sects. Not just the Indians. They were theocrats who tolerated little deviation from the orthodoxy. Dissent was punished by banishment from the colony at best.


It's something of a myth that they came to America just to be free from persecution in Europe. They were oppressed by the Church of England yes, but they weren't idealists. When given the chance, they behaved in exactly the same way. The first colony to be founded with religious freedom in mind (Rhode Island) was founded by people who fled the Puritans. Those also had a more cordial and harmonic relationship with the natives. The Puritan reign ended after they executed a couple of Quakers and the English king put an end to their excesses by installing a governor of his own and passing an act of religious tolerance.

Comment by Amy L. Cook on November 25, 2011 at 12:04pm

I don't like Thanksgiving for the exact same reasons. I was trying to think of a holiday that was not based on some sort of lie or misgiving, and I could not. I don't mean the made up holidays like mother's day, or holidays based on someone's birthday or death, like Marting Luther King Day, but all religious holidays are based on lies. I don''t know if I'm more angry with society for feeding me these lies my entire life, or with myself for believing them for so many years. Well, I am awake now and you can't fool me anymore!

Comment by Fakru Ahmed Bashu on November 25, 2011 at 12:55pm

George Washington only planned on one day of Thanksgiving. It was many years later it became a tradition...

Comment by KaraC on November 25, 2011 at 2:53pm

I take all the points made, but I tend to "repurpose" holidays, abuse Thanksgiving to take stock of my life with a deliberately positive slant. That helps me focus on things I want to have an increased presence in my life, and eliminate some of the negatives. It is easy to let the bad stuff overwhelm the good sometimes, so this renews my mental energy.

Comment by KaraC on November 25, 2011 at 2:58pm

Hmm. Spell corrector and my bad typing mad "and use" turn into "abuse". Maybe it works either way :-)

Comment by Robert Karp on November 25, 2011 at 7:18pm

Cathy thank you for posting this. I too have a special affinity with the understanding of the plight of the American Indian. It is incredibly important that Americans are made aware of the horror that was the genocide of the American Indian. I had not read that specific book however, some research has suggested that prior to European contact, there were possible up to 18 million American Indians in the North America. In the year 1900 there was around 200,000. This is a genocide the likes of which we have never seen. It is history that is all but forgotten and rarely taught in schools.  So yes, I agree, while we eat turkey and enjoy our families, the other story, the darker side of this holiday, must be acknowledged and remembered.

Comment by Ron V on November 25, 2011 at 8:42pm

I asked my family if we could start changing the "family tradition" of Thanksgiving but they shot my proposal down.  I proposed we not cook a turkey (which has been "free range" for the past 3 or 4 years) and eat a small meal with a nice family gathering to give thanks for what we have but not indulge in excess and also remember those less fortunate. 

I hope the next generation changes all these traditions that seem like nonsense, including Thanksgiving and Christmas.  It really is not hard to understand why this country is a joke to many on the world stage - our whitewashed history of genocide, slavery, etc., combined with our current corrupt, impotent government and these holidays of excess paint a picture that is not difficult to understand why much of the world thinks we are a joke.

Comment by Danny Sanchez on November 25, 2011 at 10:13pm

As a descendent of people who were raped and killed by Europeans I should probably hate this holiday too but I just don't give a shit about what the holiday is suppose to mean or represent. I only care about what it means to me and my family. I usually get to see people who I love and don't usually have time to see often and stuff my face with tons of food.  This year I couldn't afford to see my family but my roommate and I made the best of it and I cooked my first turkey. I like getting ready for christmas and playing Christmas songs recorded by rockabilly artist like the Reverend Horten Heat and Los Strait Jackets.

Like most Mexicans my family mixed with the natives over 200 years ago and that makes it difficult to hate one or the other when you came from both. That is why in Mexico Columbus Day is known as El Dia De La Raza(The day of the race)

I think its important to remember our history and the mistakes mankind has made over the years but we cannot dwell on the past or take something personal that happend a long time ago to people you never met. Mostly I just don't want to hear your whining while I'm trying to stuff my face with turkey and and drink myself into a comma.

Comment by Becca on November 25, 2011 at 11:16pm

You know I really get tired of the whole peaceful 'native' routine. Sorry but the Americas were not filled with roses and gumdrop people before the arrival of the Europeans. Call what the Europeans did genocide if you want to, call it evil, call it horrific it was all those things. Equally horrific were some of the things that native populations throughout the Americas did to each other and so were the things that Europeans were doing to each other back in Europe. History is not as clear cut as we'd all like it to be with good vs evil, it's murky and it's ugly and no 'side' in history is innocent. What's done is done, we can't go back and change the past all we can do is learn from it, try not to repeat it, and not dwell on it. The past is no reason to forgo a celebration of family, friends and being thankful for what one has.



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