Thanksgiving: Christian? Pagan? Genocide?

Updated: Nov 26, 2020

The holidays and traditions we participate in define the very fabric and identity of our family. They affect us spiritually, culturally and emotionally. Often humans do things simply because it is the way that family has always done them. But when we find within ourselves a desire to be molded like clay into the vessel that the Great Potter desires us to be, reflection and consideration of what is automatic is a beneficial pastime.

The purpose of this article is neither to encourage nor discourage the celebration of Thanksgiving. It is to provide you with information for you to make your own assessment. Social media is full of videos in November with native people decrying Thanksgiving, calling it "A Day of Mourning" or "Celebrating Genocide". It is unfortunate that the younger generations of indigenous people are being filled with hate-mongering narratives of early American history in order to revise and rewrite recorded history. Yet again, another example of how "modern thinking" is destroying the traditional custom of native people to see the beauty in all things, seeing the best in another human being, and to focus on what is good rather than what went wrong.

It is not that we forget, because we never will, but we do the history of our people a great disservice when choosing to cherry-pick what we remember because there is an inconvenient truth in the narrative. In the end, we will share our view since many folks ask us whether we, as a First Nations family, celebrate it or not. The questions we ask when evaluating whether or not our family will allow the practice or celebration of a holiday include the following:

1. What/where are the origins of the holiday?

2. Are there any pagan associations with its origin? (Is this a redecorated event birthed in the worship of a god other than The Creator?)

3. What is the original intent behind the holiday?

The Origins of Thanksgiving:

When examining a holiday to determine if our family should put our stamp of approval on it, we look at its foundation. Is its foundation build upon solid ground? Does it have any grounding in the Word? Does it conflict in any way with living a pure, set-apart life for The Creator? So, let's look at Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a holiday of American origin. If you research the topic, maybe you've ended up a little confused. There are what seem to be conflicting reports on the origins. Here are some of the three main pictures painted of Thanksgiving origins:

A. The welfare line for pilgrims. Some say it began when an Indigenous tribe fed a starving settlement of colonists. The Pilgrims, unaccustomed to living close to the land and dealing with crop failure, found themselves next to starvation.

B. The welfare line for Indians. Just for the record, this picture does not hold up under commonsense scrutiny.

C. Others say it dates back to a day when a “Thanksgiving Day” was first proclaimed by the Governor of the then Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1637. He made an official proclamation to commemorate the massacre of 700 men, women and children that were celebrating Bvsketv, The annual Green Corn Festival kept by many eastern woodland tribes. Another tribe massacred in 1637 was the Pequot. Why is it that a very important detail of this horrific event is left out by native people? Like the Narragansett and Mohegans who were part of carrying out that massacre? That's right, Natives helped to massacre other Natives. The inconvenient truth hurts. (Mason)

If Thanksgiving is truly a day that began with the slaughter of Indigenous people, who would want to celebrate such an atrocity? But we believe the origins actually go much deeper and when examining the historical evidence you will find it did not begin with slaughter or a massacre of First Nations people. It began with a covenant of peace by sharing a meal between two nations of people who loved The Creator. In both historical accounts, we find the Pilgrims and later Puritans being involved in what many historians believe was the Bvsketv Harvest Festival and some scholars believe it was Succot.

Jamestown, VA was founded in 1607 and there was peace between the indigenous people and the new settlers. In 1620 Puritans set sail for a new life and after being blown off course they landed off the coast of present-day Massachusetts. They were helped by Samoset and Squanto who knew how to speak English and taught them how to survive in their new surroundings. Later in the year,