The Naked Truth

The Naked Truth

Mikayla Havison, Executive Editor

From family to football, from food to friends, there is not much to dislike about Thanksgiving; however, these festivities are only a facade for a flock of fallacies and failures of Americans, both past and present.

One of the worst elements of Thanksgiving is that most people cannot explain its history. Commonfolk, politicians, and even teachers explain the day as a unification between the “Pilgrims and Indians”. Not only is the term “Indian” no longer correct, but the Pilgrims actually called themselves Separatists and the term “Pilgrim” was not developed until the 19th century. The Separatists also had already gained religious freedom in Holland, but came to the New World with hopes of preserving their English culture.

This error in names is not the only historical fallacy people have been taught to believe. In fact, there is actually no evidence that the Wampanoags were even invited to the Thanksgiving feast. Members of the tribe did end up attending, but this is theorized to occur because the Wampanoag stopped by out of coincidence.

Additionally, the Europeans’ negative response to Native Americans is completely ignored and thought of as occurring after the lifetimes of the Separatists. Unfortunately, this is not true.
Tisquantum (Squanto) helped the Separatists in numerous ways. As the American classic, “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” reveals, Squanto helped the Separatists with fishing, farming, and ultimately, surviving. What Charlie Brown does not reveal is that before the Separatists’ arrival, Squanto had already had a bad run with Europeans. Two years prior to the Separtatist’s arrival, Squanto was a slave in Spain and when he finally returned to North America, all of his people had died from the European disease, Smallpox. So, when the Separatists arrived, Squanto did not just befriend them out of the goodness of his heart, but out of a necessity to manage them.
And finally, the most damaging piece of evidence to the common view of Thanksgiving’s history: it was not celebrated. In 1846 (more than 200 years after the first Thanksgiving), writer Josefa Hale began to advocate for the celebration of such a feast, but it was not until 1941 that President Roosevelt made the holiday official. How we view Thanksgiving is so off from reality that we may as well just have invented the holiday without any historical references.
Not only does Thanksgiving’s history not provide reason for celebration, but the cultural appropriation that ensues also does not shed the most glamorous light. If you attended any elementary school in the United States, I am sure you have witnessed the horrors of a class Thanksgiving. Yes, that day of year when you are forced to dress up in construction paper costumes and eat hot dogs in the shape of turkeys.
In a time where being socially-conscious should be a necessary virtue, it does not make sense that students are being taught that wearing construction paper Native American costumes is acceptable. Instead of being taught to appreciate the Wampanog culture, students are taught to belittle the culture of minorities. Construction paper feathers on a headband does not make someone a member of the Wampanoag tribe and it is offensive to suggest that they do.

These historical and cultural elements of Thanksgiving are not the only reason Americans should feel ashamed.

The concept of Thanksgiving in and of itself is confusing at best. Why is it that we need an essentially arbitrary day in order to look each other in the eye and say thank you?

If anything, Thanksgiving proves Americans are ungrateful. It proves that we only think about our luck when we are asked to. It proves that we need a feast to come together. It proves that our culture is one of selfishness at least 364 days of the year.