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Staff Editorial

Thanksgiving is about more than Pilgrims and the Plague


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Most people associate Thanksgiving with a happy feast between the pilgrims and Native Americans. Although that peaceful feast did occur, it is not the only interaction between the two groups. It all started back in 1614 when a group of English Explorers sailed to America in search of new territory. When they returned to England, they brought with them Native Americans bound in slavery. They also left behind diseases in North America which the Native Americans were not fit to handle. This caused an epidemic of smallpox that destroyed most of the remaining population.

One of the Native Americans who had been taken as a slave was named T isquantum, a.k.a. Squanto. Squanto escaped from slavery in 1619 and returned to North America only to find his entire tribe, the Patuxet, dead. They had suffered the epidemic and also had been slaughtered by the settlers. With no one from his tribe left, Squanto joined the Wampanoags tribe and lived with them. This is just one example of a Native American whose life was negatively impacted by the English settlers. This paints a very different picture than the stereotypical feast of the settlers and the Native Americans.

When the Pilgrims set on their journey for the new land, they arrived at Massachusetts in the year 1620. They were lucky enough to find and befriend Squanto. He spoke English very well, having been a slave in England and taught them vital skills. How to grow corn, how to fish, and other living necessities. These acts of kindness from Squanto lead to the peace treaty between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Nation. At the end of the year the pilgrims held a feast honoring Squanto and the Wampanoags. This is where the idea of the thanksgiving feast comes from originally.

The peace between the settlers and the Native Americans was short lived. Bloodshed and death in the Native American tribes were just as much a part of thanksgiving as the famous feast. One should not celebrate Thanksgiving for its historical value, however; celebrate it for its moral values. Thanksgiving is a holiday about being thankful and recognizing all that one has in their life. Take this time to reconnect with family and to give thanks.

Thanksgiving should be celebrated for its message, but one also needs to recognize the injustices done to the Native Americans. Try and reflect on all that the shoreline community has to offer. A close knit community like shoreline is a blessing that can oftentimes be taken for granted. This holiday season try to experience Thanksgiving with a new perspective. One of gratitude and appreciation, but also of respect for the Native Americans who were mistreated.

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