George Washington University Prof: Thanksgiving Should Be a ‘Day of Mourning’

Thanksgiving at Grandma's
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George Washington University is promoting one of its professor’s new books ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday. The book, by professor David Silverman, pushes the narrative that Thanksgiving is a “myth,” and should be considered a “day of mourning” spent reflecting on “genocide.” The professor added that “white America’s triumphs have been borne on native peoples’ backs.”

In his new book, entitled, This Land Is Their Land: The Wampanoag Indians, Plymouth Colony, and the Troubled History of Thanksgiving, professor David Silverman explains why he believes the First Thanksgiving is a “myth” that should actually be a “National Day of Mourning.”

“These [native] men and women are hurt by the way we celebrate this national holiday,” explained Silverman. “It makes them feel like second class citizens in their own country.”

“The National Day of Mourning calls attention to the fact that white America’s triumphs have been borne on native peoples’ backs,” the professor added.

The university highlighted the book on its website, lauding professor Silverman as “an expert in Native American history and the author and editor of eight books on indigenous people and colonial America,” who “deconstructs the facts around the Thanksgiving holiday.”

“To me, a myth that treats American colonialism as a bloodless affair is more than bad history,” said Silverman. “It is hurtful to both modern native people and to Americans generally because it doesn’t allow us to understand ourselves in a critical way.”

GWU added that while “most people know the traditional Thanksgiving story, a cheerful American tale handed down through grade school classes and outdated textbooks,” Silverman noted that some Native Americans consider the holiday a “National Day of Mourning” spent “reflecting on a history of genocide.”

According to the book description, the “unsettling” history of Thanksgiving will reveal the holiday as one that “celebrates a myth of colonialism and white proprietorship of the United States.”

“The Thanksgiving myth brings native people into the story of our national origins, but then they disappear,” said Silverman. “The Pilgrims and their descendants carry on, but native people are just gone.”

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, and on Instagram.


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