We all know the happy-go-lucky story of the Pilgrims and Indigenous Americans breaking bread together isn’t the full story of the reason we celebrate Thanksgiving in America. But what is it actually?
We’ve compiled a few resources to help you decide how to bring the full history of the holiday into focus for you and your family. You can even incorporate reviewing our country’s history into your new Thanksgiving traditions.
A Now This video that helps you get into the initial mindset of re-thinking Thanksgiving and how you want to talk about it with your family.
This quick 6-minute animation packs a lot of useful information into a short amount of time while making a complex story easy to understand. What’s nice about this video is that it establishes the context of what was going on before the pilgrims arrived and uses music and clever use of animation to keep your attention.
This brief video created by Teen Vogue doesn’t cover a ton of history, but instead gives you the rare experience of hearing about the holiday from the perspective of Indigenous girls. The grief and heartache felt by these girls and their ancestors are palpable through the screen.
Produced by PBS, historians calmly talk through the colonizers’ hardships for their first few years of being in America. They focus on how the feast we know today as Thanksgiving was born out of grief and sorrow.
Presented by The New York Times, “A Conversation With Native Americans on Race” grapples with the racist contradictions of a country that, many feel, would prefer it if Native Americans didn’t exist. Hear from real people about their experiences and perspectives.
BONUS: The Myths of the Thanksgiving Story and the Lasting Damage They Imbue
This article by the Smithsonian contains an interview with a history professor at George Washington University about Thanksgiving and how the singular “dinner” became the focal point of the modern Thanksgiving holiday.
The bottom line is that the history behind our country’s annual holiday has a lot more complexity behind it than most of us realize. This doesn’t make a holiday about being thankful bad, but it’s important to understand how history has led us to where we are today and how we make choices in our culture for the future.