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Chief Metacomet

(Note: This is an article by Alan Muhammad of the Nation of Islam)

One of the most cherished American holidays is Thanksgiving, a day that Abraham Lincoln officially declared in 1863, in praise of ‘our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.’ In the early 1900s, Gimbels and Macys saw dollar signs and commandeered the celebration, evicted the heavenly Father altogether, added a parade with Santa Claus, and the rest, as they say, is history. Or is it? Every American school child learns of the harvest feast where the friendly local Indians broke bread and shared turkey with the black-hatted, big-buckled European Pilgrims in a festival of interracial harmony and mutual respect. Yet, there is almost nothing true about this idyllic scenario–not even the turkey. This comforting mythology has concealed some of the bloodiest acts of race hate in American history. Let us pull the stuffing out of this Thanksgiving myth and get down to the bones of the Thanksgiving idea, which has some harsh and disturbing truths.

First, let us look at these so-called Pilgrims. Most people don’t know that there were 102 British passengers on the 1620 voyage of the Mayflower, but those we now call the Pilgrims numbered only 35–the rest were an assortment of dregs, cutthroats, and criminals. Their journey to Indian lands was financed by wealthy Englishmen who sought profits from the exploitation of the lumber and furs found there in abundance. The quest for ‘religious liberty’ was hardly the concern of these investors and one would be hard-pressed to find God anywhere near the venture. The ‘Pilgrim Fathers’–who, interestingly, called themselves Separatists, not Pilgrims–came to this new world with many more muskets than bibles; indeed, they came ready to conquer–not to pray. By the time the Mayflower arrived, the Indians, who had barely survived an earlier invasion of Europeans, shunned contact with these newcomers and retreated inland.

They were smart. As soon as the Europeans set foot upon the shore (there actually never was a Plymouth Rock), and before the whites even saw their first Indian, they set about to pillage their surroundings:

• They found an Indian food storehouse and ransacked it, stealing the corn and a trap for hunting game.
• They desecrated the gravesite of an Indian child, stealing the valuable contents and throwing the body back.
• They broke into two Indian homes when the families were gone and stole their belongings.

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