Edward Winslow, in Mourt's Relation writes:
"Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four
men on fowling, that so we might after a special
manner rejoice together after we had gathered the
fruits of our labor. They four in one day killed as
much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the
company almost a week. At which time, amongst other
recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the
Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their
greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom
for three days we entertained and feasted, and they
went out and killed five deer, which we brought to the
plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the
captain and others. And although it be not always so
plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the
goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often
wish you partakers of our plenty."
This description, and others like it, color the mythology that we have around this US holiday. The pilgrims and the Indians sitting around a table laden with turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes.
But such harmony amongst the native peoples of this continent and their European and American invaders was not to last. I like to think of Manifest Destiny as a pre-modern Borg invasion. The expectation was assimilation. The belief was that resistance was futile. Death from starvation, disease and forced relocation is the legacy. Some of the poorest of the poor in these United States are native peoples. And when they take advantage of money-making ventures ( casinos come to mind), the level of rancor and jealousy directed towards them is phenomenal.
So tonight I'm giving thanks...thanks to the peoples who once lived on the lands that my ancestors farmed. Thanks to the Ojibwe, to the Dakota, and to the Winnebago. And, of course, thanks to the people who once lived where I now live. Thanks to the Ohlone. We owe you so much more.