Thanks to Thanksgiving

Alessandro Romero, Writer

Thanksgiving is fewer than two weeks away but often overlooked and overshadowed by Christmas. If one were to look around the Dakota area, they can see Christmas or winter-themed decorations. The television can have Christmas commercials already playPeople are starting their Christmas shopping with Black Friday looming around the corner. However, Thanksgiving does not seem to get as much attention as Christmas does during the days before its arrival. Does Thanksgiving deserve to be just a holiday that is overshadowed by Christmas? Even with the faults of Thanksgiving in mind, Thanksgiving deserves the attention Christmas receives as it has great value in its theme.  

What are the faults of the holiday of Thanksgiving? Its fault that has been noted by many people is the holiday’s choice of using the interaction between Native Americans and colonists as its aesthetic. 

There is controversy in the way Native Americans and their culture is represented From a CNN report, states of the U.S. have opted out of Columbus Day and changed it to Indigenous Peoples Day to honor Native Americans and their history. Columbus Day honors Christopher Columbus who discovered the Americas for Europe, but Columbus greatly reduced the Native American populationAlso, the misuse of Native American names has brought controversyABC News explains that the NFL’s Washington football team, previously the Redskins, had to change their name because it came as offensive to Native Americans.  The depiction of indigenous people of America and their history have been controversial in other holidays and sports.  

Thanksgiving has also been subjected to criticism as well. Based on a report by CNN, Wamsutta Frank James, the Aquinnah Wampanoag tribal leader criticizes the events that Thanksgiving is inspired from. James highlights this thought on Thanksgiving: “The Pilgrims had hardly explored the shores of Cape Cod for four days before they had robbed the graves of my ancestors and stolen their corn and beans.” The tribal leader proclaims that the Pilgrims have robbed the Native Americans of their food during the events that led to the origins of Thanksgiving. For this sentiment to be carried by the descendants of the Native Americans who interacted with the colonists shows a clear controversy of the holiday that can be hard to overlooked 

What is the value of a holiday that can carry such controversy and fragmentation between cultures, especially cultures that have laid the foundation for America? Thanksgiving bears the theme of bringing people together in unity.  

To answer this, one must explain why Thanksgiving became a holiday. According to Plimoth Plantation, a museum of Plymouth, Thanksgiving was a holiday proclaimed by the President of the United States or other states individually to recognize important current events for the country. It was proclaimed by President Washington, Adams, and Monroe before it fell out of popularity in 1815, but it was picked back up again by President Lincoln in 1863. Lincoln used the holiday to unite the country during the Civil War, as suggest by Sarah Josepha Hale. In 1941, it was established as a permanent holiday after President Franklin D. Roosevelt made the holiday be set on every next-to-last Thursday of November.  

Also, from the Plimoth Plantationindigenous Americans and colonists separately gave thanks through feasts as. Pilgrims and indigenous people gave thanks to the divine powers for good fortune during these feasts. Although their cultures are entirely different, Native Americans and other Americans both have made feasts to have thanksgiving. The concept of having thanksgiving in the form of a feast is a commonality the cultures share. 

Thanksgiving and feasts of thanksgiving do not simply celebrate events that would lay the foundation of the modern United States, but something that can exceed cultural barriers and strife. Even as Thanksgiving aesthetic is to remind people of a time that brings controversy to this modern era, it can still bear some value. In times of warfare, thanksgivings have been called to established unity of people that have been polarized. In times of good fortune, thanksgiving have been called to reflect and give gratitude to the events and the ones that made it possible. In times where we can become polarized with politics and other issues, Thanksgiving serves as a feast of unity and times where we can reflect on the good and not the bad.