David Silverman, Professor of History at George Washington University and author of This Land is Their Land: The Wampanoag Indians, Plymouth County, and the Troubled History of Thanksgiving, offers a true history of the holiday we celebrate each November. He talks about this history at St. Bart’s Episcopal Church in New York City and can be seen in a 49-minute You Tube video recorded on November 20, 2022.
Silverman begins by telling a more accurate account of the encounter between English Separatists and Indigenous leaders in 1621 and the subsequent dissolution of their initial mutual cooperation despite Metacomet’s statement of grievances just prior to the outbreak of King Philip’s War in 1675.
Following King Philip’s War of 1675-76, Native people were sold into slavery and employed as indentured servants in English households, a fact that is never mentioned in popular retellings of the Thanksgiving story over the past century.
Silverman concludes by describing the rebellion against the Thanksgiving myth starting with Po Metacom in 1675, and then in the 19th century by William Apess, and finally in 1970 by Frank James‘ declaration of a National Day of Mourning that has been held on Thanksgiving day ever since.
Click here for a 5-minute HuffPost video of Mooanum James, son of Frank Wamsutta James, speaking before he died in 2020.