ORIGINS OF THANKSGIVING
The year was 1637.....700 men, women and children of the Pequot Tribe, gathered for their "Annual Green Corn Dance" in the area that is now known as Groton, Conn.
While they were gathered in this place of meeting, they were surrounded and attacked by mercernaries of the English and Dutch. The Indians were ordered from the building and as they came forth, they were shot down. The rest were burned alive in the building.
The next day, the Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony declared : "A day of Thanksgiving, thanking God that they had eliminated over 700 men, women and children.
For the next 100 years, every "Thanksgiving Day" ordained by a Governor or President was to honor that victory, thanking God that the battle had been won.
Newell based his research on studies of Holland Documents and the 13 volume Colonial Documentary History, both thick sets of letters and reports from colonial officials to their superiors and the king in England, and the private papers of Sir William Johnson, British Indian agent for the New York colony for 30 years in the mid-1600s.
"My research is authentic because it is documentary," Newell said. "You can't get anything more accurate than that because it is first hand. It is not hearsay."
Newell said the next 100 Thanksgivings commemorated the killing of the Indians at what is now Groton, Connecticut [home of a nuclear submarine base] rather than a celebration with them. He said the image of Indians and Pilgrims sitting around a large table to celebrate Thanksgiving Day was "fictitious" although Indians did share food with the first settlers.
Source: Documents of Holland, 13 Volume Colonial Documentary. History, letters and reports from colonial officials to their superiors and the King in England and the private papers of Sir William Johnson, Britsh Indian agent for the New York colony for 30 years.
Researched by William B. Newell (Penobscot Tribe) Former Chairman of the University of Connecticut Anthropology Department.