Thanksgiving: What Really Happened?

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Leonard Blachly-Preston, Staff Writer

“What really happened?”

There are many questions that circulate around what the truth about Thanksgiving is, and there is now conclusive proof of what really happened. The students of Hamilton Grange Middle school recently learned about this in Humanities, and what they learned shocked

Sixth-grade Humanities teacher, Luke Bolton called the story of what happened between Europeans and Native Americans a genocide.

“I have learned a lot more about the true history of what happened on the first thanksgiving after finishing school, and that information has taught me about the, you could call it a genocide, because, whether it was through diseases passed, or blatant murder with the newfound weapons they had, the colonists wiped out almost the entire population of Native Americans,” he explained.

Yet, even though they were almost completely wiped out, the Native Americans have survived to this day. The Native American ambassador for the Lenape center stated that the best thing for students to do would be to ask their teachers to teach them about what really happened over the first Thanksgiving. That is exactly what the seventh grade at Hamilton Grange Middle School is doing around Thanksgiving.

Seventh Grade Humanities teacher Leopold Spohngellert stated in an interview that students need to learn more about the genocide against the Native Americans by the colonists.

“Our Thanksgiving traditions need to acknowledge that the Native Americans gave up the land that we now live on, and students also need to learn this in a way that they are able to realize that most of the stories that they have heard are not true. The white settlers exposed the Native Americans to diseases that they were immune to […] and the colonists also killed Native Americans with guns they brought from England. Students need to learn about this,” he said. 

Seventh-grade student Andres Perez recently studied this topic and shares the same opinion as Mr. Spohngellert. He also thinks that from what he learned, the native Americans were abused and mistreated by the settlers. 

“The Pilgrims took over Native American land and killed the Native Americans. From what I recently learned at school, this memory was actually true. I am not sure how to feel every Thanksgiving when I celebrate […] I don’t want to celebrate a holiday that is centered around the Pilgrims and tends to leave the Native Americans out of the story.”

For many years Native Americans have fought for their rights. In 1901  Theodore Rosevelt became the first President in a long time to help the Native Americans. Though Rosevelt felt a strong animosity toward the Native Americans at first, he opened up to them in his second term, 1905-1909. Rosevelt created the first known land reserve for the Native Americans, and since then, others have been made to honor the land belonging to the nations of Native Americans. 

Recently, in September of 2018, United States President Donald Trump was sued by Native American nations in Montana and South Dakota because he signed off an oil pipeline deal that would have construction on Native American land on sacred cultural sights. Thousands of protesters from many states brought support, food, and clothing to the Nations while they stood up to the construction crew, Some protestors locked themselves to construction equipment.

Military police were brought to the protests along with law enforcement officers and they tried to forcibly remove the rest of the protesters from the construction site, and unfortunately for the Native Americans sacred land, they succeeded.

Mr. Spongellert reacted with animosity towards what President Trump did to the land.

“The violent ways he used to evict the Native Americans off their own land is unacceptable behavior from a United States president. He went too far,” he said. 

After the genocide against them from the Pilgrims, over the course of 400 years, the Native Americans have survived and thrived. How do you feel about how the colonists or Pilgrims treated the Native Americans? Should we continue to celebrate this holiday?