Diablo Dispute: Thanksgiving: Is it a necessary holiday?

Elia Turner
Staff Writer 

Let’s Replace Thanksgiving

Credit: Karolina Grabowska

America loves to celebrate this holiday of thankfulness but forgets to give back to the Native Americans whose land they stole. 

     We’ve grown up listening to the story of Thanksgiving in our elementary history classes. 

     In 1620, the Mayflower Pilgrims traveled to the Americas and decided to settle in what is now called Plymouth, Massachusetts. 

     The Pilgrims could barely survive one winter and only half of them made it to the next spring. However, it wasn’t until they met Squanto, a Native American man from the Wampanoag confederation, that they then started learning how to cultivate the land.

     After the first successful corn harvest in the fall, the Governor of the Plymouth colony, William Bradford, declared that there should be a great feast in which the Wampanoag Native Americans who helped them were invited to join.

     This is the pretty picture presented to us in our youth; two completely different groups of people come together and help one another despite whatever differences they may share. 

     The reality of this picture is that this colonization resulted in a massive loss of millions of people, dying cultures, and the theft of stolen land. 

     The reality of Thanksgiving is that it is a white-washed holiday, and it’s a holiday that will always be tainted by the history of America’s stolen land.  

    Five decades after the first Thanksgiving took place, the Plymouth Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Confederation fought in a bloody war that nearly decimated the Wampanoag people because of the imminent threat of losing Native land. 

     Over the next four or so centuries, the settlers continued to expand their territory while stealing from the Natives. This came with many more bloody wars such as the Pequot Wars, the French and Indian wars, the Battle of Bloody Run, the Battle of Timbers. 

     All of these wars began to preserve Native territory. 

     Treaties continued to be made, promising that the Native Americans could keep some of their land, but those promises were never fulfilled and too many died to preserve what they could. 

     For many Native Americans, Thanksgiving is a day of mourning.  An organization called The United American Indians of New England gather every Thanksgiving to mourn over the millions of lives lost and protest the oppression experienced by many Native Americans. 

     There is so much history our textbooks don’t tell us about the problems Native Americans faced in the past or even in the present. 

     Firstly, the American government has attempted many times to forcefully assimilate Native American into white culture. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, a man named Richard Henry Pratt designed a boarding school system designed to “Kill the Indian in him, and save the man.” 

     While attempting to strip away their culture, these schools were also incredibly abusive with many students dying as a result of the treatment they received. 

     When the boarding school era began to end, the US government attempted to assimilate the Native American people by initiating the Indian Adoption project which stripped many young Native children from their biological families.

     These problems don’t only exist in the past; there are people alive today who can tell these stories of forced assimilation for themselves. 

     Even today, hundreds of Native American women are going missing or are found dead. Many advocacy groups are attempting to combat this problem but the federal government has failed to provide them with any protections. 

     This is why Thanksgiving is a day of mourning for many Native Americans, and this is why Thanksgiving will always be tainted by its history and the consequences of that history no matter how good the sentiment may be. 

     I am able to recognize that the sentiment behind Thanksgiving can be positive. We should practice thankfulness and be aware of the good things we have in life. 

     But do we really need to maintain the false story of Thanksgiving in order to do that?

     Replacing Thanksgiving doesn’t have to mean that we stop being thankful, gathering with family, eating good food, or taking a week off from school. 

     Replacing Thanksgiving simply means that we as a county have the ability to acknowledge that we’ve done wrong in the past, we’re still doing wrong by failing to acknowledge these problems, and we need to make a change. 


Lily Thorndike

Staff Writer

Is Thanksgiving necessary? 

Why it’s important to have Thanksgiving a holiday that is meaningful. 

Thanksgiving is a traditional holiday that people connect with their family and friends to give thanks.  When thinking of Thanksgiving, the first thing that pops up is probably the delicious turkey, creamy mashed potatoes, and all the other personal recipes. Although some people’s first thoughts may be the original history of how thanksgiving can to be, the Indians and the pilgrims but Thanksgiving has changed traditions too much to be associate with its past. 

  Thanksgiving is not only about the food it’s about showing love and gratitude for the people in your life. Although some people see Thanksgiving as a holiday that could be forgotten because of its harsh history involving the Native Americans and pilgrims. People’s thoughts that Thanksgiving shouldn’t be a holiday because of its background are completely justified as the holiday does have a rough past involving the Indians and their land. 

In my, home Thanksgiving has always been just about getting my family together and spending time cooking with the people that I haven’t see for some time. Having the time that I can spend cooking and talking with my family members is something I’m greatly appreciative of. Even if Thanksgiving is only a few weeks away from Christmas some of my friends and family don’t celebrate the winter holiday so I’m not able to see them then. 

Another way to see Thanksgiving is to know that most people that do celebrate Thanksgiving are celebrating by giving thanks to the people around them or showing gratitude to people that they may not even know. The holiday and how we celebrate it in my household is to simply show appreciation for each other and acknowledge what we are lucky enough to have. 

People usually get Thanksgiving off of work or school to celebrate with their families, The question that many people have in school districts or workplaces is if Thanksgiving is a necessary holiday to have off. I think that Thanksgiving is an important holiday to have off to spend time with loved ones. While the true history of Thanksgiving is violent and the untold injustices that were done to the Indigenous people of America are heart wrenching, The sentiment of being loving towards others is what the holiday should focus on. 


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