Thanksgiving: Should we abolish or celebrate it?

Point: Thanksgiving promotes cultural erasure

Illustration+by+Aydann+Long+and+Danica+Keane

Illustration by Aydann Long and Danica Keane

Ariana Flaig, Business and Distribution Manager and Features Assistant

Thanksgiving is a holiday that people celebrate all over the U.S. It is supposed to connect giving thanks and time with family, with the remembering of the pilgrims’ feast with native groups of this continent. However, the fundamental belief about Thanksgiving being a joyful event is a lie that has spread into the fabric of America and into the belief systems of Americans.
Thanksgiving’s true history has been hidden from the mass public for too long. The true story, according to dosomething.org, is that the Wampanoag people were never invited to the feast in the first place, even though they are the people who were said to feast with the pilgrims. They were only at the feast because an army was sent at the sound of gunshots, which were part of the pilgrims’ celebration.
The Wampanoag people suffered immensely because of the pilgrims. When they had their first encounter, the pilgrims stole the tribe’s winter provisions. According to Wamsutta Frank James, a Wampanoag activist and an organizer of the National Day of Mourning, “The Pilgrims had hardly explored the shores of Cape Cod for four days before they had robbed the graves of my ancestors and stolen their corn and beans.”
The alliance between the pilgrims and the Wampanoag tribe only occurred because the tribe was ravaged by diseases brought by European colonizers in the years prior. Any partnership was purely about survival. To repay the native people, the pilgrims seized their land and imprisoned, enslaved, and executed them. The future “Thanksgiving” celebrations marked brutal victories over the native people, such as the Pequot Massacre of 1636 and the beheading of the Wampanoag leader Metacom in 1676.
The history of Thanksgiving is marked by the brutality towards natives of this continent, as well as by the promotion of white supremacy. There is little discussion about the truth of Thanksgiving due to the erasure of native history.
Those who celebrate Thanksgiving are diminishing the native identity. While many believe that it is a day to spend with family and friends and share what they are thankful for, this is not the true meaning of Thanksgiving. It is a version made appropriate for children and to cover up the racist truth of Thanksgiving.
If Thanksgiving is a time to come together and celebrate, this could be done another time without the negative connotations of the holiday. There are many other dates available that have no tie to the erasure of native people. A new holiday could be created similar to Thanksgiving that focuses solely on family connection (if people so desire this).
Thanksgiving was established as a national holiday solely for commercialization. According to HuffPost, President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving Day a week earlier to give Americans an extra week to shop before Christmas.
Every aspect of Thanksgiving is commercialized, from decor to food to even family gatherings. If there is a way for a company to make money off of it, then it’s happening. There is no significance to Thanksgiving in the modern day; it’s only a precursor to Black Friday and Cyber Monday — events for businesses to amass wealth in the greatest quantities possible.
For those who argue that Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful for what one has, please reconsider. Thanksgiving’s true purpose in modern America is for businesses to take advantage of consumers by offering deals that are too good to pass up.

Click here to read the opposite point of view.