- Air Travel
- Bookstore Tourism
- Car rentals
- Freedom of Speech
- Middle East
- Public Transport
- South America
- Travel Writing
Share this Blog
The Myth of the First Thanksgiving
On Thanksgiving this year as we celebrate with family and friends, it is also essential that we honestly acknowledge that the event this day is based on is a myth, and that the United States became a nation through genocide and the theft of lands indigenous people have lived on for thousands of years.
In their book “All the Real Indians Died Off”: and 20 Other Myths About Native Americans, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz and Dina Gilio-Whitaker endeavor to dispel myths about Native Americans, like “Columbus Discovered America” and that “The United States Did Not Have a Policy of Genocide.” One of the most common myths they refute is that “Thanksgiving Proves the Indians Welcomed Pilgrims.”
They describe the fiction that most of Americans learned in school of the first Thanksgiving as a “feel-good narrative that rationalizes and justifies the uninvited settlement of a foreign people by painting a picture of organic friendship,” while in actually the story was really about “the forming of political alliances built on a mutual need for survival and an Indigenous struggle for power in the vacuum left by a destructive century of foreign settlement.”
By the time the pilgrims arrived at New Plymouth in 1620, the Wampanoag people had been ravaged by disease brought by white settlers, which “destabilized relations with their traditional enemies” due to the tremendous loss in their population (estimated to have been a loss of between 30 and 90 percent of the population). It was, at first, beneficial for both the new white settlers and the Wampanoag to form an alliance and help one another survive. There is only one account that mentions the presence of Wampanoag at a harvest festival, and that account suggests that the Wampanoag arrived after hearing celebratory gunfire, worried that there was trouble, and were simply invited to stay once they had already arrived rather than invited to participate in the celebration.
Dunbar-Ortiz and Gilio-Whitaker also remind us that, while an uneasy alliance was maintained for several decades, war broke out between the Wampanoag and the colonists in 1675—a war which “has come to be seen as the bloodiest, most violent conflict ever fought on American soil.” Dunbar-Ortiz and Gilio-Whitaker conclude that “the simplistic idea that Thanksgiving proves that the Indians welcomed the Pilgrims can be more accurately seen as a temporary chapter characterized by maximized political self-interest on all sides.”
So, this Thanksgiving, let’s be aware of the reality of the American experience and stop perpetuating myths.
Still Life with Books, a Globe and Musical Instruments, Jan Vermeulen, 1660, Mauritshuis Museum
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Lewis Carroll – illustration by Sir John Tenniel
London Macmillan and Co., Limited 1927
I recently had the opportunity to spend three weeks roadtripping around New Zealand. While I was there, I discovered that there were quite a few Australians living and working in the neighboring nation. However, I frequently could not tell the Kiwis apart from the Aussies. It’s a shame that I hadn’t seen Erik Singers’ helpful video explaining how to tell the accents apart using simple words and phrases.
Leon Underwood (1890-1975), The Siamese Cat (New York: Brentanos, 1928). Woodcut illustrations by the author. Underwood was a British born sculptor, engraver, painter and author who moved to New York City in the 1920s.
On my recent road trip around New Zealand, I stumbled upon what has to be the smallest bookstore that I have ever visited. The owners of the Twizel Bookshop describe their homey establishment as “a little shop, in a little town, close to the mountains and pretty far from everywhere.” Within sight of Mt. Cook, or Aoraki in Te Reo, this miniature bookstore in the heart of New Zealand’s Southern Alps measures a mere 12 square meters. But this little indie packs a world of literature in a tiny space. Utilizing every bit of their retail space adjacent to Twizel’s popular Hyrdo Café coffee shop, this charming store manages to be the soul of the town’s reading community.
I was impressed with Twizel Bookshop’s dedication to its customers. They host a regular reading group, maintain special hours so local school children can visit before catching the bus to their distant homes, and they also maintain “credit” accounts so the kids can pick-up books when they have no money with them.
Some followers of TBTP are aware that I recently returned from a three week roadtrip around New Zealand. Since I was hellbent on seeing as much as I could of Aotearoa as possible, I vowed to limit my time in bookstores and not buy any books at all. While this proved to be a challenge, I did manage to limit myself to thirty minutes in any shop and succeeded at my goal of not purchasing any books to way down my backpack.
The fantastic BookMark in the gorgeous community of Devonport, which is just a fifteen minute ferry trip from downtown Auckland, tested my resolve. I have to admit that within a few minutes browsing the shelves of this secondhand shop I discovered at least a dozen books that I would have purchased if it were possible to carry them home or ship them at a reasonable cost. Sadly, I left the BookMark empty handed. But, if you are ever in Auckland, it’s well worth the ferry ride across the harbor to check out this exceptional bookshop.