Voices of Native Youth

The Shocking Truth about the Pilgrim Story

Have you ever read the Pilgrim story, The History of Plymouth Plantation by William Bradford? What you read might shock you because it doesn’t line up with the Thanksgiving story we’ve all heard from childhood.

Everyone thinks of the Pilgrim story as one of heroic people. After all, they escaped religious intolerance in England and came to the New World. They survived storms, sickness, leaky boats, and still managed to make it across the ocean. Once they arrived, they survived bitter cold, starvation, and even more sickness (183). And everyone knows the story of how a nice Native, Squanto, helped keep them alive and everyone celebrated together the next fall after the harvest. But people might not realize that that story only has a grain of truth. The Pilgrims didn’t treat Indians very nicely at all. 

The Pilgrim Story isn’t Very Christian

If you've ever taken the time to read William Bradford's account of the Pilgrim story, you might be shocked. It's not at all the Thanksgiving tale we know. #ownvoices #ushistory #myth #thanksgiving

Even though they were Christians, the Pilgrims treated the Indians unfairly. The pilgrims took part of their goods, like corn, which the Natives had buried (171). They knew that the corn belonged to the Indians, but still took it. Pilgrims also walked into Native homes without permission. The Pilgrims found two of their matt-covered houses with food and tools inside. When the Pilgrims thought that the Indians had run away, they decided to take what they wanted—including corn, beans, and tools. The Pilgrims saw that they were just a bunch of nobodies and treated them horrible by taking important things from them.

The Pilgrims were unfair to the Indians, they didn’t treat them very well. They took advantage of the Indians by learning their ways from Squanto. Squanto spoke English because slavers had captured him when he was a child and taken him to Europe. When Squanto returned, his people had all died. He befriended the Pilgrims and directed them how to plant their corn, where to take fish, and helped them to ‘procure other commodities.’ He also acted as ‘their pilot to bring them to unknown places for their profit’ (172). Squanto stayed with the Pilgrims until he died. 

The Pilgrims left no record of doing anything for Squanto, and they just took advantage of him. Squanto helped them survive, but they did nothing for him. The Pilgrims stole from the Natives and never returned it back. The Natives did steal from the pilgrims once, but they returned the things they stole back to the Pilgrims (187).

The Original Thieves

The Natives acted fairly by returning what they had taken, but the Pilgrims didn’t have the same courtesy. What the Pilgrims did wasn’t right, they had used Squanto for his skills to guide to them until his death. Pilgrims were greedy and stole much from the Indians and never returned anything.

The Pilgrim found land occupied and decided to call it theirs. Even though the land was cleared, just because the Pilgrams didn’t see anyone they called it a “Divine Providence” and moved in. The Pilgrims did not care to ask anybody whose land it was. The Indians saw the Pilgrims on their land and felt confused. When the Pilgrims saw the Indians, the Pilgrims didn’t care who’s land it was and decided to use force against the Indians for their land. They killed Indians, and scared them away by shooting their guns.

Stealing from someone and calling it 'Divine Providence' doesn't make it right. #pilgrims #thanksgiving #nativeamerican Click To Tweet

The Pilgrims stole from the Indians without returning what they stole. Pilgrims saw that the Indians had no records that they could understand and used this as an excuse to treat them unfairly. The Pilgrims used the Indians for support and used them to survive without keeping any record of their help. The Pilgrims took land from the Indians using force and didn’t acknowledge the way they did it. People think the Pilgrims were nice and good to the Indians, but clearly they were not.

Jorge hates snow but loves snowboarding. He’s proud of his Navajo heritage

Have Something to Say? Learn How to Speak Up without Offending

Do you sometimes feel like you aren’t being heard? As a Native American young woman, I feel that I’m not being heard at times. But I feel with more experience I can learn to become more outspoken. I also think that other Native youth can learn how to speak up and explain their point of view, too. These few suggestions can help you grow to become more outspoken: follow protocol, avoid needless conflict, and use social media as a resource.

One way of being outspoken for Native youth is to follow protocol. According to WikiHow, you should follow three steps when you want to speak up on a controversial topic.  The steps listed are find your voice, interactwith others, and be effective. Following these steps can be a bit difficult at first, but these steps can help guide us on how to speak up for ourselves.

Why Speak Up at All?

Outspokenness can help you voice your opinion on something that you feel strongly about. My English teacher, Anita Ojeda, says that in order to promote civil discourse, we have “to have an intelligent conversation with others without offending someone who may have different views from you. You can’t change peoples’ opinions, but you CAN give them new information that helps them understand different viewpoints.” This is important to becoming outspoken, especially for Native youth. Being honest and polite can keep conversations going. Using a civilized manner toward others is useful to becoming outspoken and is also following protocol.

Things to Avoid

When following protocol there are also some things that you may want to avoid. Ojeda cautions against “letting your emotions take control.” When your emotions take control, you might say something that you later regret. Another thing to avoid is an outburst of things unrelated to your topic or your position.

In order to use social media wisely, one should use proper grammar and not have any random, unprofessional outbursts. This goes for all social media platforms. When using social media, look for any errors before posting. Be sure that the topic you are presenting is relevant, necessary and appropriate. In short, following protocol helps avoid going off-topic and reduces the possibility of huge uproars on a public figure’s lack of education.

Check out these questions to ask yourself before posting something on social media. Click To Tweet

Speak Up and Join in Conversations

If you have something important to say, you might want to learn how to speak up effectively in ways that don't offend and win people over to your side. #ownvoices #socialjustice #outspoken #speakup #nativeyouth #nativeamerican

Although social media may be full of false information, I believe it can be a great way of sharing ideas and thoughts on things. You can use Twitter, for example, to share your opinion. Native youth can use it to help raise awareness regarding their lives on the reservations across the country.

Social media can help build self-confidence. Instagram can help people connect as they talk about their aspirations and goals. When you connect with other people with the same goals and mindset, you inspire each other to reach your full potential. Social media can benefit our generation by encouraging users to be outspoken and connect around the world. 

I think that Native youth should be more outspoken about their opinions. Using civilized manners toward others is useful to becoming outspoken, and good manners follow protocol. Following protocol is important because it helps avoid going off-topic and reduces any conflict.

Using social media can benefit our generation by encouraging users to be bold and outspoken. Therefore I think it is important that Native youth share their opinions and be outspoken about it. 

Cherie is a member of the Navajo tribe. She loves music and all things Korean. One day she hopes to become a psychologist in clinical counseling or a forensic psychologist. Her peeves include listening to people chewing and popping gum loudly, and seeing people touching her belongings.
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