Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday that commemorates the day when the Wampanoag Peoples shared their Autumn Harvest Feast celebration and food with the 1621 Plymouth colonists. This became the first Thanksgiving celebration in the colonies. For the Native Americans, the assembly of the Wampanoag Peoples and English settlers had more to do with political alliances, diplomacy, and a pursuit of peace. While Americans today share a meal and give thanks for family, friends, and community, the United American Indians of New England recognize it as a National Day of Mourning for Native Americans and their allies as follow history includes the loss of many of their community members and their land.
As a holiday, Thanksgiving originates from the Native American philosophy of giving without expecting anything in return. During this meal, the Wampanoag peoples shared their land, food, and knowledge of the environment with the English. The Wampanoag tribe not only provided the food for the feast, but also the teachings of agriculture and hunting (corn, beans, wild rice, and turkey are some of the foods introduced by Native Americans).
This time of year, the two holidays of Thanksgiving and Native American Heritage Day, give us the opportunity to reflect on our collective history and to celebrate the beauty, strength, and resilience of the Native Tribes of North America. The idea of giving thanks is central to Native heritage and culture and in this way, Thanksgiving is a chance for all to appreciate the good things of life like family, community, and the riches of the land, as well as to reflect on our daily responsibility to see, accept, respect, learn and grow from the realities around us.
National Congress of American Indians