Looking at Thanksgiving Differently


Looking at Thanksgiving Differently



History is a slippery thing. You learn certain things in school and assume they are facts. As you grow, you learn new things, sometimes this new learning works well with the old. Sometimes it conflicts.


The history of Thanksgiving is like this. We all learned about it in school. Most of us can recite the whole story. Thing is, it’s just that—a story. One that makes our early history something warm and fuzzy, at least for that one glorious time, The First Thanksgiving. But when one takes a hard look at what documents and oral histories from the time actually say, a lot of the timeworn Thanksgiving story doesn’t hold up.


I am no historian. I just want to learn and understand. I don’t want to continue telling a story that no longer holds up. Monday’s book post has several Thanksgiving books told from a more accurate historical perspective. It also has books that are recommended for understanding how some Native American cultures give thanks.


I have found a wonderful resource—Thanksgiving: A Native Perspective. It has helped me think about Thanksgiving in a new way. I ordered it online and it came within a week. The book has lots of information that can help adults talk about Thanksgiving with their children and students. I especially like the article, Thanksgiving: A New Perspective (and Its Implications for the Classroom). It includes a simulation story that I like a lot.


I still like Thanksgiving. Giving thanks is an important and essential part of a happy life. I just want to understand what others have learned and what others now question about what happened back in the 1620s.


Next week, I’ll share books that reflect the giving thanks part of the Thanksgiving tradition. I’ll also have Thanksgiving crafts and activities that help families celebrate the day and build literacy skills. I’ll leave out things that promote stereotypes.


Here are a few sites that can help round out our understanding of Thanksgiving:
American Indians in Children’s Literature
Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address
Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address (on YouTube)
What Really Happened at the First Thanksgiving? The Wampanoag Side of the Tale
Selective Bibliography and Guide for “I” is Not for Indian: The Portrayal of Native Americans in Books for Young People 
American Indian Perspectives on Thanksgiving (Teacher’s Guide)


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