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The Talon

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The Student News Site of Our Lady of Good Counsel High School

The Talon

The Student News Site of Our Lady of Good Counsel High School

The Talon

The Controversy Surrounding Thanksgiving

Andrew James

For years, many Americans have gathered with their families to celebrate Thanksgiving. During this time, people take this opportunity to express what they’re grateful for while enforcing the importance of unity and community with the ones that they love. But what if there was a hidden aspect of Thanksgiving that others do not acknowledge? What if the story you learned about Thanksgiving years ago contains misconceptions about the relationship between the pilgrims and Native Americans? This article will discuss the controversy of Thanksgiving and the role that it plays every Thanksgiving.

Origin of Thanksgiving-

For years, many have believed that the pilgrims invited the Native Americans to join them to celebrate the first Thanksgiving. But information from recent years has proven otherwise. For example, when the pilgrims arrived in the Americas, they brought diseases that were not present in the region of the Native Americans and, at times, kidnapped Native Americans and put them into slavery, thus killing and having the population decrease at a similar rate. This shows how pilgrims and Native Americans did not get along and live peacefully among each other while detailing the violence and atrocities that were inflicted on Native Americans. These facts and statements serve as a contradiction to the historical record of the origins of Thanksgiving.

Where Do We Stand Today?

Today, when Thanksgiving comes, some Native Americans do not acknowledge the holiday. Many Native Americans observe Thanksgiving as a day of mourning. Over the past 48 years, Native Americans who participated in the national day of mourning used it as an opportunity to honor their deceased relatives. Doing this still ensures a spiritual connection that Native Americans have for their loved ones who have passed while allowing them to speak out against the oppression and racism that they experienced for years. Still, others chose another way of acknowledging the holiday. Some Native Americans recognize Indigenous People’s cultural presence on Thanksgiving. For instance, Sean Sherman, who is a chef and the CEO of The Sioux Chef, expressed how the poor narrative of Thanksgiving should not be the main focus of the holiday and how people should focus on gratitude and generosity.  They should make the food that is a crucial aspect of Thanksgiving on the day that people get to appreciate the history of Native Americans. Many of the food sources such as turkey, corn, and pumpkin originated from the ingenious food of Native Americans. Demonstrating this allows others to still see Native American culture being represented in a way that does not inflict violence or oppression toward them. 


In conclusion, the true history of Thanksgiving is tragic and puts a new perspective on how Native Americans have not been appreciated or been disrespected for centuries. In today’s society, it highlights how Native Americans are vocalizing the struggles that they have experienced during the time of Thanksgiving, to educate others about the racial and discriminatory aspects of the holiday. It also details how some Native Americans choose to acknowledge their indigenous culture, such as their food being celebrated during the holiday, as a way for their culture to still live on in the lives of Americans. Furthermore, the controversy of Thanksgiving highlights a number of  perspectives on how the holiday should be celebrated and what it truly represents to people.



James, Andrew. Lakota Native American Man at Pow Wow. 28 June 2018.

Salaky, Kristin. “The Dark Truth Behind The Origins Of Thanksgiving.” Delish, 30 Oct. 2023.