A Controversial Holiday of Thanksgiving

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America has always carried the desire to ignore its past and live in its view of its self as a melting pot. America wants us all to forgive and forget the past to be one people. How can we forgive the past if this country won’t even acknowledge their true sins instead of the cookie-cutter version it feeds its people? How can we forget the past when our present injustices and state of living stems from what happened in the past? There can be no peace in this country without justice and justice entails America respecting those they have traumatized by acknowledging their true crimes against them and showing penance for all they have done.

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Every November, America celebrates Thanksgiving as a holiday memorializing Indigenous Americas showing the pilgrims how to feed themselves once they arrived in what is now the United States of America, more specifically Massachusetts. The concept of Thanksgiving didn’t begin with the pilgrims. Indigenous Americans of the northeast, Wampanoags, had been celebrating their fall harvests long before the pilgrims arrived. The pilgrims landed in 1620 but the first mention of a “Thanksgiving” didn’t come till 17 years later in 1637. On May 26th, 1637, towards the end of the Pequot War, English colonizers and their allies set fire to a Pequot fort, burning almost 400 people alive, shooting those who escaped. Women and children are estimated to make up 175 of those people. The day after the fire, the Massachusetts Bay’s Governor William Bradford declared a 'day of Thanksgiving kept in all the churches for our victories against the Pequots.'

On December 26th, 1862 the United States, under President Abraham lincoln executed 38 Dakota men, the largest state-sanctioned execution. As were all tribes at the time, the Dakota people were being forced by treaties to live on land that couldn’t maintain them. In August of 1862, the US-Dakota war began. After 37 days of fighting the remaining Dakota people had left with their families and 2,000 had surrendered with promises from U.S. Colonel Henry H. Sibley that those who didn’t attack settlers wouldn’t be punished. Initially, 303 Dakotas were sentenced to death. Most did not speak english to understand the crimes they were being tried for. Since it was a military matter, Abraham Lincoln had the final decision on the executions. After reviewing the cases he decided to only execute those involved in civilian massacres, 38. The 38 didn’t know that they were to die until December 22nd. There were 4,000 people, men, women, children approximated to be in the crowd at the hangings, some throwing bricks and stones at the prisoners. It was less than a year later, on October 3, 1863, that President Abraham Lincoln announces that the country will celebrate an official Thanksgiving holiday on November 26, 1863, to show gratitude for the victory in Gettysburg.

Thanksgiving’s roots stem from genocide and trauma of America’s Indigenous people. Every year the nation continues to pretend that it’s a celebration of the United States and its indigenous population’s relationship. America murdered and bastardized its Indigenous population and continues to disrespect them by promoting false versions of their history. America further perverted the concept when it turned Thanksgiving into another consumer-driven, secularized holiday. You can’t think about Thanksgiving without thinking about Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The pursuit of comfort and capitalism continues to push false narratives of greatness. But that ‘greatness’, the progress, the inventions, the academia, the tycoons and their cities were built upon Indigenous bodies and their lands. America’s history is brutal, online shopping and family meals will aren’t going erase that. America isn’t interested in righting its wrongs anyway, it’s only interested in pretending that everything is okay. But you can’t have peace without Justice. 

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A Controversial Holiday of Thanksgiving. (2020, December 24). WritingBros. Retrieved May 27, 2024, from https://writingbros.com/essay-examples/a-controversial-holiday-of-thanksgiving/
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A Controversial Holiday of Thanksgiving. [online]. Available at: <https://writingbros.com/essay-examples/a-controversial-holiday-of-thanksgiving/> [Accessed 27 May 2024].
A Controversial Holiday of Thanksgiving [Internet]. WritingBros. 2020 Dec 24 [cited 2024 May 27]. Available from: https://writingbros.com/essay-examples/a-controversial-holiday-of-thanksgiving/
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