Countdown to Thanksgiving Day 2: Teaching With Turkey

Sometimes I wonder how – as Americans – we can pride ourselves on education and history, and yet at the same time completely ignore facts. You can say this for just about anything we deal with in American culture – politics, medicine, social norms. But for now let’s stick to the genocide of the Native Americans.

When Thanksgiving comes, we all do the usual traditions. We dress our kids up in little pilgrim and Indian hats. We teach them to be thankful for their iPhone5s. We tell them that they are unAmerican if they do not eat three times their recommended caloric intake for the day. We dress them in warm clothes to sit outside the Beanie Baby Outlet overnight to get Black Friday deals come the next morning.

But we just totally gloss over the genocide of the Native Americans that the early settlers – without a doubt – committed.

I know, I know – I’m such a Debbie Downer. How dare I talk about something the American people did in a negative vein? How dare I use terms like genocide to describe the annihilation and displacement of an entire nation of people. They wanted to be murdered, cheated, and stolen from, right? It was totally fair to give them blankets covered in small pox to stay warm!

OK, I’m getting off on a little tangent; let me get back to the point. So I plan on teaching this year through turkey. Specifically, when I cook my grandiose Thanksgiving meal, I’ll be labeling everything much like I did at our Thanksgiving party the other night. Now the other night I did normal titles. BLT bites. Turkey meatballs in cranberry sauce. Moroccan vanilla bean cupcakes crusted in sea salt and coated with a hint of caramel icing (we Californians like our adjectives when describing our food).

But Thursday, I’m going with history. Here’s what’s on the menu:

Steal My Land Starters

This will be your typical tray of olives and classic spinach and artichoke dip, with slices of baguette for spreading. But instead of thinking about the calories, we’ll be engaging in discussion on just what it meant for the settlers to steal the land from the Native Americans.

Massacre Mashed Side Dishes

The first massacre ordered of the Native Americans was in 1637, of the Pequot people. What is particularly sad about this is that the settlers very much depended on the help of the Native Americans in those earliest years for survival. So as we shovel mounds of butter and saturated fat-filled gravy all over our mashed potatoes; groan as we wallow in our corn souffle and mashy green bean casserole, we’ll be discussing just how a friendly gesture on the part of the Native Americans was all for naught in the end.

The Truth Hurts Turkey and Ham

I’m making both turkey and ham this year, but it will not be coming without a lesson. Interestingly enough, Thanksgiving was a tradition that the Native Americans taught the earliest settlers. Rather than a feast of excessive adjectives covered in asiago cheese and animal fats that were not even around the continent yet, the Natives celebrated their harvests with these Thanksgiving feasts, consisting mostly of what they had grown and hunted. And it wasn’t just a once a year thing in November; it was regularly and frequently through the course of the harvest season.

“Ironic” how we murdered and sequestered all of them; yet, still claim their tradition for our own. But far be it for me to discuss the truth. That would hurt.

Small Pox Pie

I’m making a classic pumpkin pie and that’s it for the desserts here. Then after my father heads home to watch football, we are heading over to the in-law’s for more desserts. So the only thing I will be serving is small pox pie.

No, my pie will not actually contain small pox; but it will be representative of perhaps the most aggregious of acts on the part of the European settlers (and there were many). At a certain point in the American Indian Wars, the settlers knew that the Native Americans had advantages over them – they were used to the climate; they understood the terrain of the land. What the Native Americans did not have, though, was an immunity to Western disease, small pox in particular.

So what did those lilly-livered fucktards do? They wrapped their blankets around people sick with small pox, then had people who were more immune to the disease take them to the Native Americans as an “offering.” Badabing, badabang – an entire sector of people were wiped out. Pretty fucked up if you ask me.

So I know this is grim. And I am aware that I’ve now created a downtrodden tone going into your Thanksgiving feast this Thursday. I’m sure many of you will unfollow me or call me unAmerican. But as you faithful blog followers eat your food and drink your drink; as you line up at that Beanie Baby Outlet, it’s OK to accept the facts and take a moment to respect the great loss of an entire nation of people. It isn’t unAmerican to accept education and history for what it is. After all, isn’t that what we pride ourselves on?


  1. rich

    you suck. that was great. it’s very overlooked and swept under the rug.

  2. Frugalistablog

    I didn’t know about the whole blankets on purpose part. Ew!! I will read this to my son’s class minus the swear words. Or I wish I could anyway!

    1. Heather Christena Schmidt

      It’s totally true – learned it when I was doing my undergrad in political science. Unreal, huh?

  3. Enchanted Seashells

    Well, SOMEBODY has to be Debby Downer, it might as well be you! And what you say is true.

  4. Devonlynn

    Here here!

    1. Devonlynn

      Err…hear hear! oops.

  5. alienredqueen

    Maybe you can serve small pox pie to your mother’s side of the family. 😉

  6. Andrew

    And who doesn’t love small pox references?

  7. Connie

    Well said! 🙂

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