That old Pilgrims' tale may have been an early example of fake news.
|The authors of a book on myths about Native Americans think that the scene, depicted in this painting of the first Thanksgiving by J.L.M. Ferris, doesn't tell the real story. (Image via Getty)|
“Thanksgiving Proves the Indians Welcomed the Pilgrims”
The Thanksgiving story as we know it is a story of unconditional welcome by the indigenous peoples, a feel-good narrative that rationalizes and justifies the uninvited settlement of a foreign people by painting a picture of an organic friendship. A more accurate telling of the story, however, describes the forming of political alliances built on a mutual need for survival and an Indigenous struggle for power in the vacuum left by a destructive century of foreign settlement.
When the Pilgrims arrived at New Plymouth in the depth of winter, food was the first concern. From colonists’ journal entries we know that right after their arrival Native homes and graves were robbed of food and other items. Written accounts describe taking “things” for which they “intended” to pay later. Ever pious and believing in divine predestination, the religious separatists attributed their good fortune to God, “for how else could we have done it without meeting some Indians who might trouble us.” Thus, the Pilgrims’ survival that first winter can be attributed to Indians both alive and dead.
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