Plymouth Rock Massachusetts is home to… the Plymouth Rock. It is an actual rock that became a physical reference point to the location of the landing of the Mayflower in 1620. The rock sits very near the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. Directly across from this famous spot, high upon a hill stands a monument to Massasoit the Great Sachem of The Wampanoags. Nearby is another rock with a plaque, “National Day of Mourning” to mark how many Native Americans spend Thanksgiving Day.

History is NEVER simple. By now, most Americans understand our traditional historic story of the first Thanksgiving is also incredibly inaccurate. The roots of the first Thanksgiving, the relationship between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoags, even why they dined, when they dined and what they ate is complicated. It is however, one of those historical periods of American History that needs to be taught in full, without angles and fully objectively. Learning this history, sharing this history, this is the most honorable way to mark the occasion of the 4th Thursday of November.  Taking time to learn some of the many lessons of stewardship to this great land that have been observed by Native Americans for thousands of years even before the Mayflower set sail is also an honorable way to mark this day.

The word Thanksgiving is a reference to gratitude. There is always much to be thankful for, sharing those reasons with family and friends is a beautiful thing. Accepting the true reality of the colonialization and expansion of the Americas by Europeans is also a beautiful thing. It’s time to let go of the romanticized version that has been clung to for so long.

~Audrey L Elder