Perspectives: Thanksgiving History and the American People

Headline Roundup November 26th, 2020

Facing a tense political climate and COVID-19 coronavirus restrictions, the 2020 Thanksgiving holiday has a bit of a different feel. Projected presidential election winner Joe Biden delivered a holiday address Wednesday, as debate continues about how to celebrate the holiday safely and joyously. Another point of discussion is how Thanksgiving connects with American history and its Indigenous peoples.

Some voices from the right explored the history of Thanksgiving, celebrating the attempts at peacemaking between European settlers and Native Americans; these voices also criticized attempts to cast the traditional Thanksgiving story as a masking of the settlers' abuse of Indigenous peoples. Some Indigenous voices featured in left-rated outlets expressed concern that the holiday celebrations glaze over the oppression and violence Native Americans have faced in the past 400 years.

Perspectives: Thanksgiving History and the American People

From the Left
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OPINION

I used to think it was enough, every Thanksgiving, to post Wednesday Addams’ famous Thanksgiving monologue. Like most Indian kids across the country, when I first saw “Addams Family Values,” I delighted in the speech delivered by the iconic little outcast. It was one of the first times I remember feeling seen in pop culture as she rants about the realities of reservations and settler/colonial violence, about selling beaded bracelets by the roadside. Her statement about living in mobile homes resonated so intensely with me that I think my 10-year-old...

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From the Right
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OPINION

We live in a time of heedless iconoclasm, and so one of the country’s oldest traditions is under assault.

Thanksgiving is increasingly portrayed as, at best, based on falsehoods and, at worst, a whitewash of genocide against Native Americans.

The New York Times ran a piece the other day titled, “The Thanksgiving Myth Gets a Deeper Look This Year,” bristling with hostility toward the day of gratitude and noting that “the holiday arrives in the midst of a national struggle over racial justice.” (The paper is admirably consistent — a...

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From the Center
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ANALYSIS

Depending on where you grew up and went to school, you probably learned a different version of the first Thanksgiving.

Generally, it goes something like this: The Pilgrims were facing a rough winter in Massachusetts when a tribe of Native Americans came to their aid, showing them how to plant native crops and forging a future of peace and cooperation between the two groups. In some stories, the Pilgrims gave them something in return (the details vary).

"I think the only way forward is to understand the history the...

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