Behind the scenes of a thankful feast

Angie Rumbo

Every year, Thanksgiving is celebrated and my family is constantly left disappointed and surprised as to why it’s celebrated at all.

Typically celebrated every year on the fourth Thursday in November, most people think of this celebration, as having meals together with their families and being thankful for everything in their lives. Some parents even tell their kids stories of how the pilgrims came to the United States and how Native Americans guided them through obstacles they faced. They all ate together and all got along, which is why this traditional dinner began in the first place. The dinner celebrated how there was unity and peace between pilgrims and Natives.

That’s the story most Americans hear but the real story is far more tragic. When armed settlers (pilgrims) came to the United States, they invaded the Pequot village where Native Americans lived. Not only did they attempt to take their land but they set it on fire. They used the “if we can’t have it, nobody can have it” tactic. Those who escaped the fire were hunted down and killed on sight.

A lot of Native men, women and children were shot and killed because settlers wanted land to themselves. The day after all this happened, Thanksgiving was born. These pilgrims celebrated the mass killing of Native Americans; they celebrated claiming stolen land.

Considering that Indigenous People’s Day was celebrated this year instead of Columbus Day, shows that people are starting to realize that this land belonged to us first. That it was wrong to ever celebrate a man who invaded and killed many indigenous people. Thanksgiving shouldn’t be anything different. They should change the meaning and name of this holiday as well.

Many people believe this holiday is the time to honor the tradition of the meal and to respect as well as remember the unity of the pilgrims and Natives. When I tell people that I dislike Thanksgiving, I’m always the bad guy for “not honoring American tradition,” or “being disrespectful to the Pilgrims.” Me disliking Thanksgiving shouldn’t leave me feeling guilty. I shouldn’t have to feel guilty for not celebrating a holiday that doesn’t even acknowledge the fact that there was a mass killing of my people.

My family has never celebrated Thanksgiving because as Native Americans, this holiday just reminds us of all the pain and suffering my ancestors have experienced throughout all of U.S. history. Even though you can’t change how families celebrate the holiday, they should at least be informed on the basis of which it is formed upon.