In the meantime, the English had also set out to explore the "new world".
One of their first attempts to establish a colony was on Baffin Island.
Martin Frobisher, the leader of the expedition, kidnapped several of the indigenous
people, and destroyed an entire village. The kidnapped people died before they
could be presented to the Queen.
By the 1560's European soldiers were rampaging through what is now known as the
Southeastern United States: spreading disease and committing massacres everywhere they went.
In 1607, when the English arrived to settle Jamestown, Chief Powhatan fed and
kept the English alive, however after a short time it was evident that the
intent of the English was to steal their land in any manner possible.
Today we have the Pocahontas Disney animated movies for children. These depict
John Smith as an admirable man who sought reconciliation between England and the
indigenous people. In reality, John Smith and Ralph Lane would kidnap indigenous
children and hold them for ransom. This was done due to their knowledge of the
deep love these people had for their children: it was a way of ensuring their
In 1610 the governor of Jamestown ordered soldiers to attack the indigenous people
(ostensibly for having failed to send home some Jamestown residents who had
voluntarily chosen to live with the Wampanoag people). They proceeded to "put 15 or
16 to the sword, and nearly all the rest to flight." They burned their houses
and destroyed their crops. Then they beheaded the male prisoners, threw the children
overboard and "shot their brains out", and finally stabbed "their queen"
In 1612 some more young men from Jamestown decided to run off and join the "Indians".
In the "land of the free" this was not tolerated, and Governor Thomas Dale
had them hunted down and executed:
Some he appointed to be hanged. Some burned. Some to be broken upon wheels. others to be staked, and some to be shot to death.
George Percy, A True Relation of the Proceeding Occurrences of Moment Which have Happened in Virginia
Who were the "savages"?
1621 is the year most people think the "first thanksgiving" was held in Plymouth Massachusetts.
A feast evidently was held, and some of the Wampanoag people were invited. But it was an event
that was never repeated.
The Colonists invited the Wampanoag in order to negotiate a deal for their land. They knew that
they were outnumbered, and needed to show some courtesy to the Wampanoag until more Pilgrims
arrived from England (at which time, with the balance of power on their side, they would
simply take the land they wanted.) It's also a usually overlooked fact
that the Wampanoag brought most of the food, and that
Squanto (whose help made it possible for the Pilgrims to survive) had previously been
kidnapped by a British slave trader who had raided his village and sold Squanto
to the Spanish in the Caribbean Islands.
It was not until the 1890's that our current myths of "the first Thanksgiving" began to take shape,
and not until 1898 that the national holiday was proclaimed.
The Pilgrim children who were present at the feast would be killing their indigenous counterparts
a generation later in the genocidal conflict known as King Philip's War.
In spite of these facts, the USA continues upholding the lie known as Thanksgiving every year.
It is the way we evidently prefer to picture our early dealings with the indigenous people
whose land we stole and whose lives we took. Too bad it is a misrepresentation.
In 1970, the town of Plymouth asked one of the few surviving Wampanoag people to
speak at their annual Thanksgiving day celebration. This is what was said:
Today is a time of celebrating for you -- a time of
looking back to the first days of white people in America.
But it is not a time of celebrating for me. It is with a
heavy heart that I look back upon what happened to my
People. When the Pilgrims arrived, we, the Wampanoag,
welcomed them with open arms, little knowing that it was
the beginning of the end. That before 50 years were to
pass, the Wampanoag would no longer be a tribe. That we and
other Indians living near the settlers would be killed by
their guns or dead from diseases that we caught from them.
Let us always remember, the Indian is and was just as human
as the white people.
Although our way of life is almost gone, we, the
Wampanoag, still walk the lands of Massachusetts. What has
happened cannot be changed. But today we work toward a
better America, a more Indian America where people and
nature once again are important.