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Thanksgiving Give Thanks and Acknowledge the Truth

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  • Thanksgiving Give Thanks and Acknowledge the Truth

    What Thanksgiving story are you telling your children or talking about with your guests during this holiday? Most Americans speak of remembering the Pilgrims who, in 1620, chose the land around Plymouth Harbor, Massachusetts for their settlement. You might remember from your elementary school days that since they arrived in the winter, they were unprepared for the harsh climate.

    Fortunately, they were aided by some friendly Indians who gave them food and showed them how to grow corn. When the warm weather came, the colonists planted crops, fished, hunted and became much better prepared for next winter. And when they harvested their first crop, they invited their Indian friends to celebrate with them what was to become the first Thanksgiving.

    This story is taught today in thousands of classrooms across the nation, and around the world, and is ingrained in most people’s consciousness. Just yesterday, I heard some elementary school teachers telling the story on National Pubic Radio. Unfortunately, the entire story, from start to finish, is a complete lie.

    You are going to have to push aside your turkey (or tofu) leftovers if you are going to learn what really happened at the time of the first Thanksgiving in America. In fact, you may not be able to stomach any food for a while after you learn the truth.

    The story actually begins after 1492 as Europeans came in significant numbers to the newly found Americas.

    When people began moving, the microbes that they evolved with moved along with them. Before the arrival of Europeans, the inhabitants of North and South America were remarkably healthy. But along with the Europeans came their illnesses and their livestock. The native inhabitants were then exposed to the many diseases that can be passed back and forth between those animals and humans - anthrax, tuberculosis, cholera, streptococcus, ringworm and various poxes.

    The British and French had fished in southern New England for some time before the Pilgrims landed in 1620. It is likely that they came in contact with the Indians at that time. The native inhabitants had no resistance to the diseases brought by the Europeans and within three years, a plague wiped out between 90 and 96 percent of the inhabitants of coastal New England! This death rate was unknown in all previous human experience. For comparison, the Black Plague in the 1300s killed about 30 percent of Europe’s population.

    This piece of history is usually omitted from most textbooks, yet these plagues, which ravaged the Indian population for the next 15 years, set the tone for the relationship of the European settlers with the indigenous people of America.

    The English settlers inferred from the plague that God was on their side and sanctioned their takeover of the land. John Winthrop, governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1634, wrote that the plague was "miraculous." He said "God hath thereby cleared out title to this place..." Is it any wonder that our political leaders of today ask for God’s blessing and protection as they go to war to kill?

    Between 1520 and 1918, there were 93 epidemics among Native Americans.

    Indian home in what is now New York state. The indigenous people had no resistance to European diseases. (Photo courtesy Town of Colonie)

    The effect that these plagues had on the native populations reached into their psyches as well. They felt that the Supreme Being had abandoned them. Some survivors of the Cherokee lost all confidence in their gods and priests and destroyed the sacred objects of the tribe. Indian healers could do nothing and their religion provided no cause. But the Whites usually survived and their religion seemed to save them. Many Indians turned to alcohol, Christianity or simply committed suicide. So it was a psychologically and physically devastated people that for the first 50 years of European occupation presented no real opposition to the invaders.

    Prior to the arrival of European invaders, the native population of North and South American was 100 million in 1492. The entire population of Europe at the time was 70 million. If colonists had not been able to take over lands that the Indians had already cleared and cultivated, and if the Indian population had not been devastated by disease, there might not have been any colonization at all.

    By 1880, the Indian population was 250,000, a drop of 98 percent.

    It is quite likely that the Pilgrims knew well of these plagues. In fact, most people knew about them. Ziner, in the book "Squanto," wrote that before the Mayflower sailed, King James of England gave thanks to "Almighty God in his great goodness and bounty towards us" for sending "this wonderful plague among the savages."

    Few Americans know that the Pilgrims numbered only about 35 of the 102 settlers aboard the Mayflower, which was headed for the new Virginia colony. Some historians believe it is possible that the Pilgrims bribed the Mayflower captain to drop them off in Massachusetts. Some say they may have even hijacked the ship. In any case, the non-Pilgrim majority, who had joined the ship because of the economic opportunity afforded by the Virginia tobacco plantations, were quite upset at being taken someplace else.

  • #2
    Ma'at Hetepu

    Outstanding post Ahki! This is the type of "Truthful" information that this site is about and needs to be taught to our young and unfortunately some of our older family as well.


    • #3
      This post brings to mind a fact that is often not remembered until it is brought to the forefront of our mind. That fact is that whenever white “settlers” came into a land or territory that was new to them, they always somehow, some way, became the dominant people. Either through disease, as this post points out, or through mass killings.

      It’s happened in mostly ever place the white man “explored”. Ever wonder why we were taught in school that they were called “settlers”? Could it be because these outsiders came with an ulterior motive to kill the native inhabitants of the lands and settle there as if they were the natives? Food for thought!

      Excellent post! Much needed information!