• Mariam Gevorkian

Why Thanks Giving is the most controversial holiday

Updated: Nov 20, 2018

The month of November welcomes all things festive!

With Halloween ending in late October, Christmas seems to be right around the corner, but before we delve into the spirit of Noel, we come across Thanksgiving, the most controversial and often misunderstood celebration.

Despite Thanks Giving being warmly received by the masses; with individuals treating themselves to Black Friday Deals and spending family time together, it is rather clear that people remain oblivious to the origin and roots of Thanks Giving and what it is that they are actually; celebrating, endorsing and being part of.

Specialist Vincent Schilling claims that Abraham Lincoln infamously portrayed the story of pilgrims and native Americans eating together during the civil war in 1621, as a gateway to establishing common grounds. Yet the reality is that the feast was an invitation by the pilgrims to the natives in order to establish trading relations with gun powder. However it wasn't until 1636 whereby relations intensified. The death of a pilgrim resulted in colonials burning a village of over 400 people. This Massacre was celebrated, as a way of protection and serving notoriety of the pilgrims. Precisely the next day, Governor William Bradford embarked on the previous events as a 'day of celebration' which he claimed 'for the next 100 years, every Thanks Giving day ordained by a governor is in honour of the bloody victory".

I'm hopeful that humanity collective has the ability to recognise that this 'bloody victory' is in fact not a celebration at all. However I am not as hopeful in humanity straying away from pop culture and attaining the sense of enlightenment required to completely denounce the celebration of Thanks Giving.

Thanks Giving to Native Americans symbolises, rape, loss of land and genocide. Native Americans indeed perceive it as a day which marks the entire extermination of a village. Most Native Americans mourn on this day due to it's historical background with some choosing to fast in remembrance of the deaths. Even in current day, descendants of Native background face diminished rights and discrimination. A study conducted by Harvard School of PR and Robert Wood Johnson foundation reveal that 75% of Native Americans still face discrimination in the US.

What's worse is that In pop culture the exploitation of Native American culture remains on going. One of the most famous instances was actor Marlon Brando's rejection of an Oscar award in 1973 due to the mistreatment of Native Americans on set. The same treatment prevail within the fashion industry also, with American brands often exploiting Native American culture, such as the Victorias Secret Fashion show using offensive Native American headress,

Steps should be taken towards instilling the history behind Thanks Giving within institutional circulars in order to raise generations of individuals who are aware of the history of the celebration. The state of Seattle took steps towards this direction in 2007,

claiming that it will mark Thanks Giving as a day of mourning and bitter reminder of 500 years of betrayal. This narrative indeed recalls on the oppression and deprivation of Native Americans and is an example that should be followed.