We brought six swans, one deer and three turkeys to the banquet. I was 23 years old and already one of the tribal leaders of the Wampanoag or as the white man called us, the Massasoit, after our chief. We came to the Plymouth Plantation which was under the leadership of William Bradford in the autumn of the English year 1621. I knew several of the men, Myles Standish, John Alden and Edward Winslow and knew the names of several of the women Mary Brewster, Eleanor Billington and Elizabeth Hopkins. There were only 53 of them and more than 90 of us and I had always hoped we could just slaughter all of them at once and be done with it. I had grave misgivings about this group of settlers and had a very disconcerting dream about them moving towards the sunset and taking over the entire territory which we claimed as ours from the earliest days.
Massasoit had a meeting with several of the braves and the vote was eleven to ten, with the leader casting the deciding vote to attend the celebration peacefully. As I look back on this now I realize how this endangered the entire continent much the way, I have been told, the Spanish took over Central and South America. The white men always looked upon us as savages, and I guess in the perspective of England at the time, we, in our loincloths and our simple ways were a backward people. We were under great stress in those times with occasional wars with neighboring tribes, and many of our tribe died of illness we felt surely came to our land with the English.
When I think back on that time, I see the death of our culture and our people and personally I saw no reason to celebrate during that get together. Oh, the food was good, the seafood and the roast duckling, swans and turkeys and the many local fruits which they gathered for the feast. But all in all, they were very wary of us and their women looked upon us as they looked upon animals and never let the children come near our children. They were just patronizing us, letting our guard down for the eventual time when they completely subdued all the native people in Massachusetts, as they called this area.
So, don’t ask me to call this the first Thanksgiving, a term we never heard for many years. We were never thankful and the giving was mostly from us and not from them. We gave them the land and the food and their lives, and they gave us nothing. We lost the land, most of our people, most of our heritage and all for a so-called feast which they celebrate every year now, a true study in one people’s ability to expropriate another. Oh, we were foolish and Massasoit was a weak leader with no foresight, and easily duped by the trinkets and sweet talk of these English. I would have written a much brighter history for the Native Americans and a bleaker one for these interlopers. Again I say we should have slaughtered every last one of them. My brother and two others wanted to kill all the men and keep the women and the youngest children, but I knew that would never work out. They would never assimilate to our ways and probably would rise up against us after many years as revenge for their English families.
So, we sat down at the tables with them and watched as they ate with utensils and we used our hands as we have done for many years. The looked at us holding the meat in our fingers and I could feel the arrogance and condescension in their eyes and their actions.
We were like the Trojans without a Trojan Horse, letting the enemy into our lands, welcoming them with their ruse. This so-called Thanksgiving was the beginning of the end for us, an Indian Holocaust from which we would never recover.
Today I am the spirit of that Wampanoag, watching as the very few remaining of my creed wander among the enemy without even a language of their own; no one has spoken our tongue for over a hundred years. So, when you sit down to your dinner on the fourth Thursday of the month of November, you might best celebrate the Indians who allowed those first Pilgrims to survive, those pilgrims who then led to the obliteration of our nation so many years ago. When you slaughter the turkey let it be the memory of the Native Americans you slaughtered over three hundred and fifty years ago. And when you look around the world and criticize the horrors and sadness you see, recognize that you too must hold yourselves guilty for the destruction of an entire nation.