According to the Nov. 22 East Oregonian editorial taken from Indian Country Today, Thanksgiving 1) “is a myth,” 2) the 1621 feast “was not repeated in the years to follow,” 3) the Pilgrims “didn’t exist until 1870s” and weren’t included in the celebration “until the 1890s,” 4) “no proof of turkeys,” 5) the Indians (Wampanoag) were not invited nor friendly. According to the editorial President Abraham Lincoln made up the myth of Thanksgiving to “calm things down” because the theme of Pilgrims and Indians eating happily together was “a nice unity story.” Most egregiously the editorial quotes “from the mouth of a 5th grader,” praising the Pilgrims (that didn’t exist yet) for their slaughter of the Pequots. “For the next 100 years, every thanksgiving day ordained by a Governor was in honor of the bloody victory.”

The EO did not fact check the veracity of Indian Country editorial, which cast doubt on a cherished tradition in America. Here is the documented record written by the Pilgrims that started the Thanksgiving celebration:

“Our governor sent four men on fowling, so that we might after a special manner rejoice together … many of the Indians coming in amongst us, (including) their greatest king Massasoyt, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted … and they went out and killed five deer which they brought to the plantation.” (Edward Winslow, Mount Relations, Pilgrim Hall Museum).

Governor William Bradford also documented the first Thanksgiving in 1621 because the pilgrims were “all well recovered in health & strength and had all things in good plenty… and besides water fowl, there was great store of wild turkeys.” (William Bradford, diary of Plymouth Plantation, Pilgrim Hall Museum).

In 1623 Gov. William Bradford issued the first Thanksgiving proclamation to “render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all his blessings.” (William Bradford Dairy) In 1668 the Plymouth Colony Court decreed the “25th day of November … to be kept as a solemn day of thanksgiving.” (Pilgrim Hall Museum) The first national day of Thanksgiving was decreed by the Continental Congress on Dec. 18, 1777, in gratitude for the American victory at Saratoga.

President Lincoln had it right when he proclaimed a “National day of Thanksgiving to our benevolent Father who dwellest in Heaven.” Enjoy your turkey and do not allow fake news editorials to undermine your appreciation for the Pilgrims and Thanksgiving.

Stuart Dick


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