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teaching thanksgiving and what about Christopher Columbus?  RSS feed

 
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Thankful as I am for my fortunate life, I think it's way past time to correct some twisted american history and traditions...so many things that have been drilled into me for decades that I did not question as a child.  

Wondering if those who are homeschooling are able to give their children a broader view of American History?

Here are a couple interesting articles among the many available online.....

What Educators Need To Know About Teaching Thanksgiving

There is research that suggests that a single shared meal did take place, but within a generation, Native Americans and settlers were at war with each other. Native communities were destroyed and that part of the story tends to be left out. Leaving out the Native perspective may seem more appropriate than teaching genocide to elementary-aged students, but that act of erasure has negative consequences too.



History is a Lie, Christopher Columbus Was NOT a Hero. He Was a Murderer & Tyrant

Not only did Christopher Columbus not discover the Americas — since it was already inhabited and he was actually in search of India and therefore lost — but he was what could justifiably be called a psychopath, since he oversaw mass murders, tortures and rapes carried out under his watch. In fact, he helped facilitate what is arguably the greatest genocide in known human history.







 
pollinator
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There is a lot of misinformation on this and it crosses both sides. Myself, having ancestors that were aboard the Mayflower (hardly anything big as 10% of American's can say the same thing), as well as Indian heritage, I know kindness and hatred came about on both sides.

Few know for instance that Squanto OWNED land in Maine, and sold it to the Englishmen. Few know that the Mohawk Indians were wiped out when they murdered two English teenage girls when they were outside the camp picking blueberries. The anger got out of hand and retribution was a bit much, but that is why repaying evil for evil is never a good thing.

I have hand written accounts by my own ancestors telling of how Indian's purposefully attacked them with no aggression on their part. But it went the other way too, when raids were made on the Indian settlement in what is current day Norridgewock. It was a senseless blood bath of the Indians that did not need to happen.

But what you never read about is, MOST OF THE TIME, it was the outsiders who never set foot in Maine who started clashes, or imposed rules that got the ire of the Indians. Life in New England is tough, I know because this morning, on Thanksgiving Day it was below zero (f) with the wind howling at over 25 mph. The laws of the land then, were no different then they are today, we have/had to depend on your neighbor to get through here. The ground is rocky, the growing season short, and people are people no matter what color their skin. We relied on the Indians, and they relied on us.

As for the friendship. I joke I am proof of it. At some point someone in my family snuck into a wigwam and "kept their friends close, and the "enemy" closer". I am good with that, I would rather be friends with someone then be at war.
 
Travis Johnson
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Christo[her Columbus does not really deserve a response in my book. Like many in life, his "discovery" was debunked many years ago, and the true discovery dates back to when the Vikings described a land that is interestingly a lot like Maine in Description. They failed to stop, and just sailed by, where as Christopher Columbus capitalized on it.

In modern terminology, after death he has ben called out on his "spin" on things, and so I let it rest. I don't think it should be a holiday anymore, but that is just me.
 
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Judging the past by today's moral standards isn't very useful. The further we come as a species, the worse our histories will look.

That said, I think it's important to review all of history. There are things there nobody wants to repeat.

As to Columbus, contact was a real shitshow, but apart from the fact that it preceeded the arrival of the Mayflower, Columbus has little to nothing to do with Thanksgiving. Don't Americans have another day for him already?

I think it important to note that if there had been no malice or greed on the part of the European explorers, and later settlers, contact and settlement would still have taken a toll; there was no real way to protect a population with no previous exposure to the European disease environment, and nobody knew enough about germ theory to have done anything about it anyway.

So let's be clear about what actions specifically we are condemning. The urge to explore and settle new land is what brought the first people to the Americas in the first place.

Displacing extant peoples and the ways it was done was just wrong, but the want of European settlers to build something free of the trappings and restrictions of the old, wasn't that something the ancient peoples coming to the Americas thousands and thousands of years ago (what, between 40,000 and 13,000 years ago?) would have found familiar in their way?

And nope, not glossing over anything, but I have to categorically refuse the assertion that colonisers are evil. My family came over from Poland during and after the Second World War. My ancestors had nothing to do with anything on this continent until the mid-50s, so I don't have great-great-great grand-whatever's memory to uphold (or actions to excuse).

We can't do anything to change what happened. It isn't possible or practical to return unceeded land in the case of generations of occupation by generations of the descendants of colonisers.

The one thing we can do, though, is be reasonable and truthful about the history we know to have occurred, and to hold our governments to account in today's dealings with the First Nations.

-CK
 
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I was very lucky that when my kids were young they had a chance to be in a daycare run by Wampanoag teachers. What they learned at thanksgiving time was a bit different than what they learned when they hit first grade!!! They learned about harvest, they learned about community, they learned songs, they minimized the conflict angle (preschool, why push it), and they learned what I thought was most important-- the native people are still here. Not just in books, still around, still listening, still participating.
I was glad that in my corner of New England some of the original occupants are still present, if I were homeschooling I would make sure that we learned not about who to assign blame to, since that ultimately doesn't resolve anything, but instead that these folks are still here and not just in the past/in books/etc. Much more important than Columbus, in my view.

 
Travis Johnson
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Chris Kott wrote:JMy family came over from Poland during and after the Second World War. My ancestors had nothing to do with anything on this continent until the mid-50s, so I don't have great-great-great grand-whatever's memory to uphold (or actions to excuse).



I hear this a lot and it really is too bad. My ancestry is just as long and varied as everyone else's, I just happen to know it. Sometimes in threads like this, where history is brought up, it can play a role because there is no "slant" or "spin" by politically correct text book or teachings, because I can read it straight from the diaries of my ancestors themselves.

At our house we do not homeschool, but we do refute some of the teachings at school. We talk about what we know has happened in our families history, and convey that to our children, other family members, and to our church.

Tonight is a great example. Our church does a Thanksgiving Left-Over Feast where everyone in the church (about 500 people) bring their Thanksgiving Left-Overs for a Pot Luck Dinner. I will be presenting a story about an incident that happened in 1838 when an early frost took out all the crops in this area, yet a Pastor in Bangor sent down a wagonful of provisions to our family so that they could survive the winter. It is stories like this that children remember, and appreciate. It is those kinds of stories that we must keep alive. It does not matter if the story is about having food sent to OUR family, or the food being sent to A family, children remember stories of personal impact.
 
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Days of "thanksgiving" has been celebrated throughout all human history. The ones most commonly associated with the American Thanksgiving Day were the very common harvest festivals that all cultures have celebrated. These harvest festivals have always been rather permaculture in their observation. A celebration of the wonderful cooperation of nature, human, crop, weather, good fortune and spirit that produced enough life giving food to last another year. All peoples throughout all time have gathered in praise, song, feast, enjoyment of each others company, dance, courtship and just in general the happiness that the constant work and worry of if they would have enough to eat for another year was over. These harvest festivals were celebrated by the original peoples on what was sometimes called Turtle Island and naturally later what became the American Colonies. These celebrations come as naturally to us humans as breathing and eating and laughter itself.

Shortly after the establishment of the American Republic, President Washington issued a proclamation that the often observed harvest festivals become a federally observed holiday. There was no fixed date, but they occurred every Fall at the end of harvest. Later, in 1863 during the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of "Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens," to be celebrated on the last Thursday in November. He said that such an official holiday was right and proper to recognize that despite the horrors of war and conflict there was still much to be grateful for in what often seemed a cruel world.

It seems (at least to me) that it is unfortunate that a day of American Thanksgiving for life itself should become mired in the controversies of politics and strife. We have so much for which to be grateful. The rich soil that grows our food. The seeds and plants that increase into the foods that sustain us. The rain that falls that gives life to all. A Sun that shines perfectly to give warmth and life. Grandma Moon that helps establish the tides and weather itself. And of course the system of govenment that for the first time in human history proclaims that that all are equal and all entitled to Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness. This is worth all the Praise we can lend it. And worthy of all the Praise we could ever give it.

Happy Thanksgiving! A Day for All Peoples to Celebrate Life itself!

 
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Great post Jim. You made my day.

In essence, the association of Columbus, Natives, etc is no different than the Easter Bunny to Easter, or Santa Clause to Christmas. Both of which are likely absent from the origins.
 
Judith Browning
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Thanks for all of the interesting views and opinions...

Here's another...
What Does Thanksgiving Mean to Native Americans?


The dominant cultural and historical story has been told from the perspective of the white colonialists who landed near Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts in 1620. In this version of the Thanksgiving story, the holiday commemorates the peaceful, friendly meeting of English settlers and the Wampanoag tribe for three days of feasting and thanksgiving in 1621.


In the days around Thanksgiving, many teachers focus in on this happy story, helping students make American Indian headdresses out of construction paper and holding Thanksgiving reenactments in their classrooms.

Very few teachers realize that construction headdresses and school re-enactments create a lump stereotype that Native Americans all wear the same regalia. These school activities also encourage young students to think it is okay to wear culture as a costume. This makes it hard for students to recognize the diversity of Native American tribes and makes students believe it’s okay to mimic Native American traditional wear, without having an understanding of its spiritual significance.



The article goes on to explain...

some of the reasons why Thanksgiving is a complex holiday, and one that all Americans should approach with greater sensitivity.

 
wayne fajkus
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I am currently vacationing in Jamestown/Yorktown/Colonial Williamsburg. I could start a thread about the stupidity of the colony. I could start another thread about how brilliant they were from an earthworks perspective. Maybe the stupidity turned to brilliance as they evolved to survive.

There are no displays showing the Thanksgiving love here. A short period of peace from the marriage of Pocohantas is all i found.

One story told how the settlers showed up in a drought and ran out of food. They attempted to make a trade with the indians for corn. The indians declined saying they were short of their needs. The settlers didn't believe them so they killed them and took their corn.

History keeps changing. Maybe its better to say that teachers POV keeps changing. I'm not sure what i was told about Thanksgiving in the 1970's is still being taught today.
 
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I used to work at a local Native American medical facility.  I mentioned Thanksgiving once and they told me "We don't celebrate smallpox day".  That was a real eye-opener for me.
 
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