Thursday, November 22, 2007

Gobble Gobble, Ya'll!

It has been a long time since I had seriously thought about the story of Squanto and the first Thanksgiving story. Mostly because this fairy tale version was not the first Thanksgiving, but also because the story is a little ridiculous when you start to consider our history with the Native Americans. When I learned that most of my knowledge about American history was really just an extensive knowledge of folklore, I decided that things like the story of Thanksgiving aren't so much important as the fact that you have the day off to eat, watch football, and be lazy. This was all true until yesterday when The Pineapple Mom told me about an email from a German friend on one of her listserves that heard our Thanksgiving story from one of her students and was wondering if it was true. She was doubtful. I can't say that I blame her.

Later, The Pineapple Mom sent me this link. I'm guessing that someone on the email list sent this to the German to prove that the story her student told her was true. The part that struck me as hilarious was this: On March 16, 1621, an Abnaki Indian named Samoset entered the Plymouth settlement. He welcomed the Pilgrims in English, and the next day returned with another American Indian named Squanto, who spoke English well.

Weren't the pilgrims lucky that the native folk (that according to this story, they had no prior contact with) spoke English so well? Might they have learned this perfect English from the French traders? In fact, Squanto was kidnapped and sold as a slave by Thomas Hunt, one of John Smith's lieutenants. After living in England and Ireland (thus learning English), he was finally able to return home to discover that his entire tribe was dead. And it was true that he lived with the pilgrims and taught them how to grow corn and catch fish and eels. However, he was sent by the Pokanoket tribe, to keep an eye on the pilgrims. The aforementioned Samoset, who was an Abnaki, did make the first contact with the Pilgrims and asked them for beer. He was visiting Chief Massasoit of the Pokanoket tribe.

The pilgrims didn't like or trust Squanto and neither did the tribe that sent him to act as a liaison between the two. In the end, Squanto was probably poisoned by one of the two during negotiations in 1622 since the English and the Native Americans had been killing one other off for years prior to this fairly tale like bout of helpfulness that we celebrate every November. So now we celebrate a holiday based on a mythical story of a helpful Native American that was hated by everyone that knew him. Poor Squanto.


7 comments:

mad said...

Don't you get the feeling that all of American history, as taught to us by The Man, is a big fat lie?

Anyhow, happy thanksgiving and god bless Squanto.

Huckdoll said...

You lost me after Gobble Gobble, Ya'll...

Kidding.

pissed off patricia said...

I agree with the first comment here. Probably a lot of ugliness was deleted from our history. Makes for a nicer story, don't cha know.

pineapple said...

mad: not so much feeling, more like fact.

huckdoll: ha ha

pop: no doubt. how else could they trick us into having such large appetites on turkey day? the truth would leave us feeling not so hungry anymore.

Jill said...

It is funny how history lessons have changed. I just saw on the History Channel that the Plymouth settlement may not have been the first. Both Texas and Florida had possible colonies but history showed what we have always heard. Same thing with the crusades. When I was a kid we read about them but nothing was ever said about Christians vs Muslums. Now that seems to be what they are including in the history.

Evil Spock said...

Did Squanto's ancestors hunt you down to make Pineapple Upside Cake? Evil Spock's non-writing disease is spreading.

pineapple said...

jill: he who wins tells the lies...

evil spock: you are so evil that you made me unable to blog.