By Kisha James - Perspective The Washington Post, November 24 at 4:00 PM ET — On Thursday, millions of families across the United States will celebrate Thanksgiving without giving much thought to the truth behind the heavily mythologized and sanitized story taught in schools and promulgated by institutions. According to this myth, 400 years ago, the Pilgrims were warmly welcomed by the “Indians,” and the two groups came together in friendship to break bread.
The “Indians” taught the Pilgrims how to live in the “New World,” setting the stage for the eventual establishment of a great land of liberty and opportunity. In the usual narrative, no further mention is made of the Native people, as if they all faded away. By sanitizing the English invasion of Wampanoag homelands, the Thanksgiving myth blatantly disregards the true history of the Pilgrims’ arrival in America and the centuries of violence and oppression that Indigenous peoples have endured as a result of the colonization of the Americas.
I know the Thanksgiving myth well. For my entire life — 22 years — I have gathered annually with hundreds of other Native Americans and supporters in Plymouth, Mass., on the fourth Thursday in November. We gather and march to challenge this myth, to tell the true history of the European conquest of the United States, to speak about the devastating and continuous impacts of colonization on Indigenous peoples. We gather to declare Thanksgiving a National Day of Mourning for Native Americans.
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