Wednesday, November 21, 2007

School says Thanksgiving is for 'mourning'

Posted at WorldNetDaily.

Seattle school officials are telling teachers that Thanksgiving actually is a time of "mourning" since it represents "500 years of betrayal."

The message to all "staff" in the Seattle Public Schools comes from Caprice D. Hollins, the director of "Equity, Race & Learning Support," and other officials including Willard Bill Jr. of the "Office of Native American Education."

"With so many holidays approaching we want to again remind you that Thanksgiving can be a particularly difficult time for many of our Native students," the letter said.

The school letter refers educators to a website, Oyate, run by an outside organization that promotes Indian culture, and recommends teachers explore it.

"Here you will discover ways to help you and your students think critically, and find resources where you can learn about Thanksgiving from a Native American perspective," the letter said. "Eleven myths are identified about Thanksgiving, take a look at No. 11 and begin your own deconstruction."

The website's "Myth No. 11" is that "Thanksgiving is a happy time."

"Fact: For many Indian people, 'Thanksgiving' is a time of mourning, of remembering how a gift of generosity was rewarded by theft of land and seed corn, extermination of many from disease and gun, and near total destruction of many more from forced assimilation. As currently celebrated in this country, 'Thanksgiving' is a bitter reminder of 500 years of betrayal returned for friendship," the website describes.

The website posting called "Deconstructing the Myths of 'The First Thanksgiving," goes further. The writing by Judy Dow and Beverly Slapin also speculates on the psychology of Thanksgiving.

"What is it about the story of 'The First Thanksgiving' that makes it essential to be taught in virtually every grade from preschool through high school? What is it about the story that is so seductive? Why has it become an annual elementary school tradition to hold Thanksgiving pageants, with young children dressing up in paper-bag costumes and feather-duster headdresses and marching around the schoolyard? Why is it seen as necessary for fake 'pilgrims' and fake 'Indians' (portrayed by real children, many of whom are Indian) to sit down every year to a fake feast, acting out fake scenarios and reciting fake dialogue about friendship? And why do teachers all over the country continue (for the most part, unknowingly) to perpetuate this myth year after year after year?" the two write.

"Is it because as Americans we have a deep need to believe that the soil we live on and the country on which it is based was founded on integrity and cooperation? This belief would help contradict any feelings of guilt that could haunt us when we look at our role in more recent history in dealing with other indigenous peoples in other countries. If we dare to give up the 'myth' we may have to take responsibility for our actions both concerning indigenous peoples of this land as well as those brought to this land in violation of everything that makes us human," the two said.

"In terms of what they were seeing in some of the use of the feathers and those things because those are of spiritual and ceremonial significance to us," Bill, the school district official, told KING5 Television in Seattle.

But the "political correctness" of such evaluations and recommendations simply goes too far, others said.

"I think anything you are thankful for is great," parent D.D. Boutwell told the station.

"I think it gets to be silly," said parent Deb Bush.

"We need to free ourselves so that we can manifest that true love and kindness and compassion that's necessary to heal the wounds," Phil Lane, Jr., of the United Indians of All Tribes Foundation, told the station.

The district, as part of its website guidelines, suggests being careful about "celebrating" a "tradition," rather than "educating."

"Celebrating without educating can also impinge upon another student's belief or values," the district warns. has provided links to some of the documentation in the case, such as the school letter.

"We appreciate your willingness to struggle with these complex issues by considering the impact on many of our Native students when teaching about Thanksgiving in traditional ways," the letter said.

Among the other "myths" addressed by the outside website are: The Mayflower passengers were called "Pilgrims." ("Pilgrims are people who travel for religious reasons, such as Muslims who make a pilgrimage to Mecca"), the Pilgrims "shared" with the Indians ("They actually stole corn and ransacked people's houses, even a cemetery"), and Thanksgiving was the beginning "of a long, harmonious friendship between the Pilgrims and Native people."

According to the Pilgrim Hall Museum, there are 2 (and only 2) primary sources for the events of autumn 1621 in Plymouth:

Edward Winslow, Mourt's Relation :
"our harvest being gotten in, our governour sent foure men on fowling, that so we might after a speciall manner rejoyce together, after we had gathered the fruits of our labours ; they foure in one day killed as much fowle, as with a little helpe beside, served the Company almost a weeke, at which time amongst other Recreations, we exercised our Armes, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and amongst the rest their greatest king Massasoyt, with some ninetie men, whom for three dayes we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five Deere, which they brought to the Plantation and bestowed on our Governour, and upon the Captaine and others. And although it be not always so plentifull, as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so farre from want, that we often wish you partakers of our plentie."

William Bradford, Of Plimoth Plantation :
"They begane now to gather in ye small harvest they had, and to fitte up their houses and dwellings against winter, being all well recovered in health & strenght, and had all things in good plenty; fFor as some were thus imployed in affairs abroad, others were excersised in fishing, aboute codd, & bass, & other fish, of which yey tooke good store, of which every family had their portion. All ye somer ther was no want. And now begane to come in store of foule, as winter approached, of which this place did abound when they came first (but afterward decreased by degrees). And besids water foule, ther was great store of wild Turkies, of which they tooke many, besids venison, &c. Besids, they had about a peck a meale a weeke to a person, or now since harvest, Indean corn to yt proportion. Which made many afterwards write so largly of their plenty hear to their freinds in England, which were not fained, but true reports."

However, there are many who have revised history to support their beliefs, and choose not to let the facts get in the way. Thanksgiving is a time to thank the almighty God for all He has given us and all that He does for us.
He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God.
- Romans 14:6

Happy Thanksgiving, and God bless you all.

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