Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem says (i) all closed systems are unprovable within themselves and, that (ii) all open systems are rightly understood as incomplete. - R.E. Slater

The God among us is the God who refuses to be God without us, so great is God's Love. – Tripp Fuller

According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater

Our eschatological ethos is to love. To stand with those who are oppressed. To stand against those who are oppressing. It is that simple. Love is our only calling and Christian Hope. - R.E. Slater

Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger

Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton

I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – Anon

Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII

Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut

Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest

People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – Anon

Certainly, God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater

An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater

Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann

Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner

“Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh” means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14) or, conversely, “I AM who I AM Becoming.”

Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton

The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens, we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – Anon

The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul

The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah

If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – Anon

Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord

Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another, so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

To promote societal transition to sustainable ways of living and a global society founded on a shared ethical framework which includes respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, universal human rights, respect for diversity, economic justice, democracy, and a culture of peace. - The Earth Charter Mission Statement

Christian humanism is the belief that human freedom, individual conscience, and unencumbered rational inquiry are compatible with the practice of Christianity or even intrinsic in its doctrine. It represents a philosophical union of Christian faith and classical humanist principles. - Scott Postma

It is never wise to have a self-appointed religious institution determine a nation's moral code. The opportunities for moral compromise and failure are high; the moral codes and creeds assuredly racist, discriminatory, or subjectively and religiously defined; and the pronouncement of inhumanitarian political objectives quite predictable. - R.E. Slater

God's love must both center and define the Christian faith and all religious or human faiths seeking human and ecological balance in worlds of subtraction, harm, tragedy, and evil. - R.E. Slater

Friday, December 11, 2020

The Origins of America's Thanksgiving


Jennie Augusta Brownscombe, The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth, 1914,
Pilgrim Hall Museum, Plymouth, Massachusetts

 The Origins of America's Thanksgiving


Jennie Augusta Brownscombe, Thanksgiving at Plymouth, 1925,
National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C.


Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a national holiday celebrated on various dates in the United States, Canada, Grenada, Saint Lucia, and Liberia. It began as a day of giving thanks and sacrifice for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year. Similarly named festival holidays occur in Germany and Japan. Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday of October in Canada and on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States and around the same part of the year in other places. Although Thanksgiving has historical roots in religious and cultural traditions, it has long been celebrated as a secular holiday as well.

History

Prayers of thanks and special thanksgiving ceremonies are common among almost all religions after harvests and at other times.[1] The Thanksgiving holiday's history in North America is rooted in English traditions dating from the Protestant Reformation. It also has aspects of a harvest festival, even though the harvest in New England occurs well before the late-November date on which the modern Thanksgiving holiday is celebrated.[1][2]

In the English tradition, days of thanksgiving and special thanksgiving religious services became important during the English Reformation in the reign of Henry VIII and in reaction to the large number of religious holidays on the Catholic calendar. Before 1536 there were 95 Church holidays, plus 52 Sundays, when people were required to attend church and forego work and sometimes pay for expensive celebrations. The 1536 reforms reduced the number of Church holidays to 27, but some Puritans wished to eliminate all Church holidays, including Christmas and Easter. The holidays were to be replaced by specially called Days of Fasting or Days of Thanksgiving, in response to events that the Puritans viewed as acts of special providence. Unexpected disasters or threats of judgement from on high called for Days of Fasting. Special blessings, viewed as coming from God, called for Days of Thanksgiving. For example, Days of Fasting were called on account of drought in 1611, floods in 1613, and plagues in 1604 and 1622. Days of thanksgiving were called following the victory over the Spanish Armada in 1588 and following the deliverance of Queen Anne in 1705.[3] An unusual annual Day of Thanksgiving began in 1606 following the failure of the Gunpowder Plot in 1605 and developed into Guy Fawkes Day on November 5.[3]

In Canada

According to some historians, the first celebration of Thanksgiving in North America occurred during the 1578 voyage of Martin Frobisher from England in search of the Northwest Passage.[4] Other researchers, however, state that "there is no compelling narrative of the origins of the Canadian Thanksgiving day."[5]

The origins of Canadian Thanksgiving are also sometimes traced to the French settlers who came to New France in the 17th century, who celebrated their successful harvests. The French settlers in the area typically had feasts at the end of the harvest season. They continued throughout the winter season, even sharing food with the indigenous peoples of the area.[6]

As settlers arrived in Nova Scotia from New England after 1700, late autumn Thanksgiving celebrations became commonplace. New immigrants into the country—such as the Irish, Scottish, and Germans—also added their own traditions to the harvest celebrations. Most of the U.S. aspects of Thanksgiving (such as the turkey) were incorporated when United Empire Loyalists began to flee from the United States during the American Revolution and settled in Canada.[6]

In the United States

Pilgrims and Puritans who emigrated from England in the 1620s and 1630s carried the tradition of Days of Fasting and Days of Thanksgiving with them to New England. The modern Thanksgiving holiday tradition is traced to a well-recorded 1619 event in Virginia and a sparsely documented 1621 celebration at Plymouth in present-day Massachusetts. The 1619 arrival of 38 English settlers at Berkeley Hundred in Charles City County, Virginia, concluded with a religious celebration as dictated by the group's charter from the London Company, which required "that the day of our ships arrival at the place assigned ... in the land of Virginia shall be yearly and perpetually kept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God." The 1621 Plymouth feast and thanksgiving was prompted by a good harvest. The Pilgrims celebrated this with Native Americans, who had helped them get through the previous winter by giving them food in that time of scarcity.[7][8][9]

Several days of Thanksgiving were held in early New England history that have been identified as the "First Thanksgiving", including Pilgrim holidays in Plymouth in 1621 and 1623, and a Puritan holiday in Boston in 1631.[10][11] According to historian Jeremy Bangs, director of the Leiden American Pilgrim Museum, the Pilgrims may have been influenced by watching the annual services of Thanksgiving for the relief of the siege of Leiden in 1574, while they were staying in Leiden.[12] Now called Oktober Feest, Leiden's autumn thanksgiving celebration in 1617 was the occasion for sectarian disturbance that appears to have accelerated the pilgrims' plans to emigrate to America.[13]

Later in Massachusetts, religious thanksgiving services were declared by civil leaders such as Governor Bradford, who planned the colony's thanksgiving celebration and feast in 1623.[14][15][16] In the late 1630s, the Pequot were blamed for the killing of a white man, leading to the colonizers burning down Pequot villages and killing those who did not perish in the fires.[17] Hundreds of Pequots were killed, leading Governor Bradford to proclaim that Thanksgiving from then on would be celebrating "the bloody victory, thanking God that the battle had been won."[17][18] The practice of holding an annual harvest festival did not become a regular affair in New England until the late 1660s.[19]

Thanksgiving proclamations were made mostly by church leaders in New England up until 1682, and then by both state and church leaders until after the American Revolution. During the revolutionary period, political influences affected the issuance of Thanksgiving proclamations. Various proclamations were made by royal governors, and conversely by patriot leaders, such as John Hancock, General George Washington, and the Continental Congress,[20] each giving thanks to God for events favorable to their causes.[21] As President of the United States, George Washington proclaimed the first nationwide thanksgiving celebration in America marking November 26, 1789, "as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favours of Almighty God".[22]

Debate about the nation's first celebrations

The question of where the first Thanksgiving was held in the United States has been a subject of debate, primarily between New England and Virginia. The question is complicated by the concept of Thanksgiving as either a holiday celebration or a religious service. James Baker maintains, "The American holiday's true origin was the New England Calvinist Thanksgiving. Never coupled with a Sabbath meeting, the Puritan observances were special days set aside during the week for thanksgiving and praise in response to God's providence."[10] Baker calls the debate a "tempest in a beanpot" and "marvelous nonsense" based on regional claims.[10] However, the day for Thanksgiving services specifically codified in the founding charter of Berkeley Hundred in 1619 was instrumental in President John F. Kennedy's attempt to strike a compromise between the regional claims, by issuing Proclamation 3560 on November 5, 1963, stating, "Over three centuries ago, our forefathers in Virginia and in Massachusetts, far from home in a lonely wilderness, set aside a time of thanksgiving. On the appointed day, they gave reverent thanks for their safety, for the health of their children, for the fertility of their fields, for the love which bound them together, and for the faith which united them with their God."[23]

Other claims include an earlier religious service by Spanish explorers in Texas at San Elizario in 1598.[24] Robyn Gioia and Michael Gannon of the University of Florida argue that the earliest Thanksgiving service in what is now the United States was celebrated by the Spanish on September 8, 1565, in current Saint Augustine, Florida.[25][26]

Fixing date

Canada

The earlier Thanksgiving celebrations in Canada has been attributed to the earlier onset of winter in the North, thus ending the harvest season earlier.[27] Thanksgiving in Canada did not have a fixed date until the late 19th century. Prior to Canadian Confederation, many of the individual colonial governors of the Canadian provinces had declared their own days of Thanksgiving. The first official Canadian Thanksgiving occurred on April 15, 1872, when the nation was celebrating the Prince of Wales' recovery from a serious illness.[27] By the end of the 19th century, Thanksgiving Day was normally celebrated on November 6. In the late 1800s, the Militia staged "sham battles" for public entertainment on Thanksgiving Day. The Militia agitated for an earlier date for the holiday, so they could use the warmer weather to draw bigger crowds.[28] However, when World War I ended, the Armistice Day holiday was usually held during the same week. To prevent the two holidays from clashing with one another, in 1957 the Canadian Parliament proclaimed Thanksgiving to be observed on its present date on the second Monday of October.[6]

United States

Thanksgiving in the United States has been observed on differing dates. From the time of the Founding Fathers until the time of Lincoln, the date of observance varied from state to state. The final Thursday in November had become the customary date in most U.S. states by the beginning of the 19th century, coinciding with, and eventually superseding the holiday of Evacuation Day (commemorating the day the British exited the United States after the Revolutionary War).[29] Modern Thanksgiving was proclaimed for all states in 1863 by Abraham Lincoln. Influenced by Sarah Josepha Hale, who wrote letters to politicians for approximately 40 years advocating an official holiday, Lincoln set national Thanksgiving by proclamation for the final Thursday in November, explicitly in celebration of the bounties that had continued to fall on the Union and for the military successes in the war, and also explicitly in "humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience."[30] Because of the ongoing Civil War, a nationwide Thanksgiving celebration was not realized until Reconstruction was completed in the 1870s.

On October 31, 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a presidential proclamation changing the holiday to the next to last Thursday in November, for business reasons.[31] On December 26, 1941, he signed a joint resolution of Congress changing the national Thanksgiving Day to the fourth Thursday in November.[32]

Since 1971, when the American Uniform Monday Holiday Act took effect, the American observance of Columbus Day has coincided with the Canadian observance of Thanksgiving.[33][34]



* * * * * * * *



Ousamequin and Carver
Chief Ousamequin shares peace pipe with Plymouth Governor
John Carver | California State Library


The Myths of the Thanksgiving Story and the Lasting Damage They Imbue

In truth, massacres, disease and American Indian tribal politics are
what shaped the Pilgrim-Indian alliance at the root of the holiday

by Claire Bugos
Smithsonianmag.com
November 26, 2019

In Thanksgiving pageants held at schools across the United States, children don headdresses colored with craft-store feathers and share tables with classmates wearing black construction paper hats. It’s a tradition that pulls on a history passed down through the generations of what happened in Plymouth: local Native Americans welcomed the courageous, pioneering pilgrims to a celebratory feast. But, as David Silverman writes in his new book This Land Is Their Land: The Wampanoag Indians, Plymouth Colony, and the Troubled History of Thanksgivingmuch of that story is a myth riddled with historical inaccuracies. Beyond that, Silverman argues that the telling and retelling of these falsehoods is deeply harmful to the Wampanoag Indians whose lives and society were forever damaged after the English arrived in Plymouth.

Silverman’s book focuses on the Wampanoags. When the pilgrims landed at Plymouth in 1620, the sachem (chief) Ousamequin offered the new arrivals an entente, primarily as a way to protect the Wampanoags against their rivals, the Narragansetts. For 50 years, the alliance was tested by colonial land expansion, the spread of disease, and the exploitation of resources on Wampanoag land. Then, tensions ignited into war. Known as King Philip’s War (or the Great Narragansett War), the conflict devastated the Wampanoags and forever shifted the balance of power in favor of European arrivals. Wampanoags today remember the Pilgrims’ entry to their homeland as a day of deep mourning, rather than a moment of giving thanks.

We spoke with Silverman, a history professor at George Washington University, about his research and the argument he makes in his book.

How did you become interested in this story?

I've had a great many conversations with Wampanoag people, in which they talk about how burdensome Thanksgiving is for them, particularly for their kids. Wampanoag adults have memories of being a kid during Thanksgiving season, sitting in school, feeling invisible and having to wade through the nonsense that teachers were shoveling their way. They felt like their people's history as they understood it was being misrepresented. They felt that not only their classes, but society in general was making light of historical trauma which weighs around their neck like a millstone. Those stories really resonated with me.

What is the Thanksgiving myth?

The myth is that friendly Indians, unidentified by tribe, welcome the Pilgrims to America, teach them how to live in this new place, sit down to dinner with them and then disappear. They hand off America to white people so they can create a great nation dedicated to liberty, opportunity and Christianity for the rest of the world to profit. That’s the story—it’s about Native people conceding to colonialism. It’s bloodless and in many ways an extension of the ideology of Manifest Destiny.

What are the most poignant inaccuracies in this story?

One is that history doesn’t begin for Native people until Europeans arrive. People had been in the Americas for least 12,000 years and according to some Native traditions, since the beginning of time. And having history start with the English is a way of dismissing all that. The second is that the arrival of the Mayflower is some kind of first-contact episode. It’s not. Wampanoags had a century of contact with Europeans–it was bloody and it involved slave raiding by Europeans. At least two and maybe more Wampanoags, when the Pilgrims arrived, spoke English, had already been to Europe and back and knew the very organizers of the Pilgrims’ venture.

Most poignantly, using a shared dinner as a symbol for colonialism really has it backward. No question about it, Wampanoag leader Ousamequin reached out to the English at Plymouth and wanted an alliance with them. But it’s not because he was innately friendly. It’s because his people have been decimated by an epidemic disease, and Ousamequin sees the English as an opportunity to fend off his tribal rebels. That’s not the stuff of Thanksgiving pageants. The Thanksgiving myth doesn’t address the deterioration of this relationship culminating in one of the most horrific colonial Indian wars on record, King Philip’s War, and also doesn’t address Wampanoag survival and adaptation over the centuries, which is why they’re still here, despite the odds.

How did the Great Dinner become the focal point of the modern Thanksgiving holiday?

For quite a long time, English people had been celebrating Thanksgivings that didn’t involve feasting—they involved fasting and prayer and supplication to God. In 1769, a group of pilgrim descendants who lived in Plymouth felt like their cultural authority was slipping away as New England became less relevant within the colonies and the early republic, and wanted to boost tourism. So, they started to plant the seeds of this idea that the pilgrims were the fathers of America.

What really made it the story is that a publication mentioning that dinner published by the Rev. Alexander Young included a footnote that said, “This was the first Thanksgiving, the great festival of New England.” People picked up on this footnote. The idea became pretty widely accepted, and Abraham Lincoln declared it a holiday during the Civil War to foster unity.

It gained purchase in the late 19th century, when there was an enormous amount of anxiety and agitation over immigration. The white Protestant stock of the United States was widely unhappy about the influx of European Catholics and Jews, and wanted to assert its cultural authority over these newcomers. How better to do that than to create this national founding myth around the Pilgrims and the Indians inviting them to take over the land?

This mythmaking was also impacted by the racial politics of the late 19th century. The Indian Wars were coming to a close and that was an opportune time to have Indians included in a national founding myth. You couldn’t have done that when people were reading newspaper accounts on a regular basis of atrocious violence between white Americans and Native people in the West. What’s more, during Reconstruction, that Thanksgiving myth allowed New Englanders to create this idea that bloodless colonialism in their region was the origin of the country, having nothing to do with the Indian Wars and slavery. Americans could feel good about their colonial past without having to confront the really dark characteristics of it.

Can you explain the discrepancies in English and Wampanoag conceptions of property?

It's incorrect as is widely assumed that native people had no sense of property. They didn't have private property, but they had community property, and they certainly understood where their people's land started and where it ended. And so, when Europeans come to the Americas and they buy land from the Wampanoags, the Wampanoags initially assume the English are buying into Wampanoag country, not that they're buying Wampanoag country out from under their feet.

Imagine a flotilla of Wampanoag canoes crosses the Atlantic and goes to England, and then the Wampanoags buy land from the English there. Has that land now passed out of the jurisdiction of England and become the Wampanoags’? No, that's ridiculous. But that's precisely what the English were assuming on this side of the Atlantic. Part of what King Philip's War was about is Wampanoag people saying, ‘Enough, you're not going to turn us into a landless, subjugated people.’

Did all Wampanoags want to enter into alliance with the English?

From the very beginning, a sizable number of Wampanoags disagreed with Ousamequin's decision to reach out to [the English] and tried to undermine the alliance. Ousamequin puts down multiple plots to wipe out the colony and unseat him. Some Wampanoags say, ‘Let's make an alliance with the Narragansetts and get rid of these English. They've been raiding our coast for decades, enslaving our people, carrying them off to unknown fates and they can't be trusted.’ Some Wampanoags believed they caused epidemics and there were prophecies that this would be the end of the People.

When the English arrived, they entered a multilateral Indian political world in which the internal politics of the Wampanoag tribe and the intertribal politics of the Wampanoag tribe were paramount. To the degree the Wampanoags dealt with the English, it was to adjust the power dynamics of Indian country.

You write that during King Philip’s War, efforts to unify different tribes against the settlers weren’t always successful. Why was that?

The politics of Indian country are more important to native people than their differences with colonists. There were no ‘Indians’ when the English arrived. Native people didn't conceive of themselves as Indians—that's an identity that they have had to learn through their shared struggles with colleagues. And it takes a long time—they have been here for 12,000 plus years, and there are a lot of differences between them. Their focus is on their own people, not on the shared interests of Indians and very often, what's in the best interest of their own people is cutting deals with colonial powers with an eye towards combating their native rivals.

How does your telling of these events differ from other existing scholarship?

The main difference has to do with King Philip's War. The question is whether native people, led by Metacomet, or Philip as the English call him, were plotting a multi-tribal uprising against the English. I think they were. Some of my historian colleagues think it's a figment of paranoid English imagination. But I see a lot of warning signals building during the 1660s and 70s from Englishmen who lived cheek-by-jowl with Wampanoag people and were terrified of what they were seeing on the ground. I see a pattern of political meetings between native leaders who hated each other. And yet, they were getting together over and over and over again—it all adds up to me.

There's this tendency to see the English as the devils in all of this. I don't think there's any question they’re in the wrong, but it doesn't let them off the hook to say that native people wouldn't take it anymore. And regardless of that, I think the evidence shows that native people had reached their limit and recognize that if they didn't rise up immediately, they were going to become landless subordinates to English authority.

This is about as contrary to the Thanksgiving myth that one can get. That's the story we should be teaching our kids. They should be learning about why native people reached that point, rather than this nonsense that native people willingly handed off their country to the invaders. It does damage to how our native countrymen and women feel as part of this country, it makes white Americans a lot less reflective about where their privilege comes from, and it makes us a lot less critical as a country when it comes to interrogating the rationales that leaders will marshal to act aggressively against foreign others. If we're taught to cut through colonial rhetoric we'll be better positioned to cut through modern colonial and imperial rhetoric.

* * * * * * * *


The History of Thanksgiving

The true story behind Thanksgiving is a bloody one,
and some people say it's time to cancel the holiday

Áine Cain and Joey Hadden
Nov 24, 2020
  • Peace between the English and the Wampanoag fell apart within a generation.
  • Most children in the US do not learn the real history of Thanksgiving in school.
  • The well-known story of Thanksgiving is an account of how the English Pilgrims and local Native Americans came together for a celebratory meal in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
  • In reality, peace didn't last between the English settlers and their one-time Wampanoag allies, and the two became embroiled in a devastating war just a generation after the famous feast.
  • Some people view the holiday as a reminder of the systemic racism and oppression Native Americans continue to experience in the US.
While celebrations may look different this year in light of the coronavirus pandemic, Thanksgiving is typically a time for family, parades, lots of delicious food, and, oftentimes, intense travel snarls.

American schoolchildren are usually taught that the tradition dates back to the Pilgrims, English religious dissenters who helped to establish the Plymouth Colony in present-day Massachusetts in 1620.

As the story goes, friendly local Native Americans swooped in to teach the struggling colonists how to survive in the New World. Then everyone got together to celebrate with a feast in 1621.

Attendees included at least 90 men from the Wampanoag tribe and the 50 or so surviving Mayflower passengers, according to Time.

The bash lasted three days and featured a menu including deer, fowl, and corn, according to Smithsonian Magazine.
In reality, Thanksgiving feasts predate Plymouth — numerous localities have tried to claim the first Thanksgiving for themselves.
And the peace brokered at Plymouth didn't last long.

The real story behind the holiday is so dark, in fact, that some people are rethinking how they celebrate the holiday, or whether they should at all.

A group of school kids gathered at the statue of Massasoit, "Great Sachem
of the Wampanoag's," on the hill overlooking Plymouth Rock and the
harbor. | Tom Herde/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The Plymouth Thanksgiving of 1621 wasn't the first

Settlers in Berkeley Hundred in Virginia decided to celebrate their arrival with an annual Thanksgiving back in 1619, according to National Geographic — though The Washingtonian reported the meal was probably little more than some oysters and ham thrown together.

Decades before that, Spanish settlers and members of the Seloy tribe broke bread with salted pork, garbanzo beans, and a Mass in 1565 Florida, according to the National Parks Service.
Our modern definition of Thanksgiving revolves around eating turkey, but in past centuries it was more of an occasion for religious observance.
The storied 1621 Plymouth festivities live on in popular memory, but the Pilgrims themselves would have most likely considered their sober 1623 day of prayer the first true "Thanksgiving," according to the History of Massachusetts Blog.

Others pinpoint 1637 as the true origin of Thanksgiving, owing to the fact that the Massachusetts colony governor John Winthrop declared a day to celebrate colonial soldiers who had just slaughtered hundreds of Pequot men, women, and children in what is now Mystic, Connecticut.

Regardless, the popular telling of the initial harvest festival is what lived on, thanks to Abraham Lincoln.

The enduring holiday has also nearly erased from our collective memory what happened between the Wampanoag and the English a generation later.

The First Thanksgiving by Jennie Augusta Brownscombe

Tensions grew between the Wampanoag and the English settlers years after the Plymouth Thanksgiving.

Massasoit, the sachem, or paramount chief, of the Wampanoag, proved to be a crucial ally to the English settlers in the years after the establishment of Plymouth. He set up an exclusive trade pact with the newcomers and allied with them against the French and other local tribes like the Narragansett and the Massachusetts.

But the alliance became strained over time.

Thousands of English colonists poured into the region throughout the 17th century. According to "Historic Contact: Indian People and Colonists in Today's Northeastern United States," authorities in Plymouth began asserting control over "most aspects of Wampanoag life," as settlers increasingly ate up more land.

The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History estimated disease had already reduced the Native American population in New England by as much as 90% from 1616 to 1619, and Indigenous people continued to die from what the colonists called "Indian fever."

Massasoit meeting with Gov. John Carver while other North American
men stood nearby. | CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

By the time Massasoit's son Metacomet — known to the English as "King Philip" — inherited leadership, relations had frayed. King Phillip's War was sparked when several of Metacomet's men were executed for the murder of the Punkapoag interpreter and Christian convert John Sassamon.

Wampanoag warriors responded by embarking on a series of raids, and the New England Confederation of Colonies declared war in 1675.

The initially neutral Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations was ultimately dragged into the fighting, as were other nearby tribes like the Narragansett.

Peace between the Wampanoag and the English settlers didn't last

The war was bloody and devastating.

Springfield, Massachusetts, was burned to the ground. The Wampanoag abducted colonists for ransom. English forces attacked the Narragansett on a bitter, frozen swamp for harboring fleeing Wampanoag.

Six hundred Narragansett members were killed, and the tribe's winter stores were ruined, according to Atlas Obscura. Colonists in far-flung settlements relocated to more fortified areas while the Wampanoag and allied tribes were forced to flee their villages.

The colonists ultimately allied with several tribes like the Mohegans and the Pequots, despite initial reluctance from the Plymouth leadership.

The colonial assault on the Narragansett fort in the Great Swamp Fight in December 1675. | Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The colonial assault on the Narragansetts' fort in the Great Swamp Fight in December 1675 during King Philip's War, aka First Indian War, Metacom's War, Metacomet's War, or Metacom's Rebellion. From The History of Our Country, published 1899.
Meanwhile, Metacomet was dealt a staggering blow when he crossed over into New York to recruit allies. Instead, he was rebuffed and attacked by Mohawks. Upon his return to his ancestral home at Mount Hope, he was shot and killed in a final battle.

The son of the man who had sustained and celebrated with the Plymouth Colony was then beheaded and dismembered, according to "It Happened in Rhode Island." His remaining allies were killed or sold into slavery in the West Indies. The colonists impaled "King Phillip's" head on a spike and displayed it in Plymouth for 25 years.
In an article published in The Historical Journal of Massachusetts, the Montclair State University professor Robert E. Cray Jr. said the war's ultimate death toll could have been as high as 30% of the English population and half of the Native Americans in New England.
The war was just one of a series of brutal but dimly remembered early wars between Native Americans and colonists in New England, New York, and Virginia.

Popular memory has largely clung to the innocuous image of a harvest celebration while ignoring the deadly forces that would ultimately drive apart from the descendants of the guests of that very feast.

The holiday's dark past has some people rethinking Thanksgiving

Racial injustice in the US came to the forefront in 2020. With the coronavirus pandemic disproportionally affecting people of color and police brutality drawing attention across the US and the world, some people say it's time to reevaluate the meaning and celebration of the holiday.

Teachers, professors, and Native Americans told The New York Times about how they had rethought the holiday. Giving it new names, like "Takesgiving" and "The Thanksgiving Massacre," they recommend sharing the holiday's true history at the family gathering.

Some Native Americans have been doing this for decades on a larger scale.
The United American Indians of New England have been mourning on Thanksgiving since 1970, per the New York Post.
On the National Day of Mourning, Native Americans gather in Plymouth, Massachusetts, for a day of remembrance. Prayers and speeches take place accompanied by beating drums before participants march through the Plymouth Historic District. The day's plaque says:
NATIONAL DAY OF MOURNING
Since 1970, Native Americans have gathered at noon on Cole's Hill in Plymouth to commemorate a National Day of Mourning on the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday. Many Native Americans do not celebrate the arrival of the Pilgrims and other European settlers. To them, Thanksgiving Day is a reminder of the genocide of millions of their people, the theft of their lands, and the relentless assault on their cultures. Participants in National Day of Mourning honor Native ancestors and the struggles of Native peoples to survive today. It is a day of remembrance and spiritual connection as well as a protest of the racism and oppression which Native Americans continue to experience. Erected by the Town of Plymouth on behalf of the United American Indians of New England.
The holiday may be a celebration of people coming together, but that's not the whole story when it comes to the history of Thanksgiving.