"Every schoolchild in the U.S. has been taught that the Pilgrims of the Plymouth Colony invited the local Indians to a major harvest feast after surviving their first bitter year in New England. But the real history of Thanksgiving is a story of the murder of indigenous people and the theft of their land by European colonialists--and of the ruthless ways of capitalism.
Looking at this history raises a question: Why should anyone celebrate the survival of the earliest Puritans with a Thanksgiving Day? Certainly the Native peoples of those times had no reason to celebrate.
A little known fact: Squanto, the so-called "hero" of the original Thanksgiving Day, was executed by the Indians for his treacheries.
But the ruling powers of the United States organized people to celebrate Thanksgiving Day because it is in their interest. That's why they created it. The first national celebration of Thanksgiving was called for by George Washington. And the celebration was made a regular legal holiday later by Abraham Lincoln during the civil war (right as he sent troops to suppress the Sioux of Minnesota).
Washington and Lincoln were two presidents deeply involved in trying to forge a unified bourgeois nation-state out of the European settlers in the United States. And the Thanksgiving story was a useful myth in their efforts at U.S. nation-building. It celebrates the "bounty of the American way of life," while covering up the brutal nature of this society."
Get the Story:
Mike Ely: The Myth of Thanksgiving