God forgive America
Part 4.

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 cooperation.

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" to death.

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.
Contents   Prev   Next

God forgive America
God forgive America
This site is concerned with: ethics, compassion, empathy, crimes of America