How To Explain Thanksgiving Reality Versus Fiction To Your Kids

The story of Thanksgiving that has been taught in elementary school classes for years is not exactly historically accurate.

Contrary to the false account of Native Americans welcoming “friendly” European pilgrims to the New World, the real story behind Thanksgiving is more complicated and leaves out crucial information about Indigenous communities and their history before and after the pilgrims.

While the Thanksgiving story is complex, demystifying it shouldn’t be. Talk to your children on the facts and fictions of the holiday sets the stage for more meaningful learning and understanding of Native Americans beyond Thanksgiving.

Here’s how to explain Thanksgiving facts and fictions to a younger audience.

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Address and correct the myths behind the holidays

Fiction: European pilgrims brought civility and the concept of “giving thanks” to Native Americans.

Do: Long before the arrival of the pilgrims, Native Americans already had large and complex societies as well as harvest celebrations, festive traditions and festivals of their own. They were also already familiar with the concept of giving thanks and had their own religious beliefs and rituals.

fiction: The “first Thanksgiving” was the start of the official holidays.

Do: There was a harvest festival in 1621 between the settlers of Plymouth and the Wampanoags, but in fact it was not called Thanksgiving. It also didn’t happen every year, according to Reader’s Digest. The next official “Thanksgiving” was in 1637 after a war between the pilgrims and the Pequots.

Fiction: The pilgrims befriended the Native Americans and worked together in harmony.

Do: The relationship between settlers and Native Americans was not often a harmonious. Settlers generally took what they wanted from Native Americans, according to the National Museum of the American Indians.

In addition to helping your child understand the myths and truths behind Thanksgiving, here are some more ways you and your family can appropriately celebrate and reflect on this complex holiday.

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Changing the purpose of the vacation

According to NPR, it can be helpful to focus on the specific ways in which different cultures express their gratitude. Explain that many cultures celebrated some form of thanksgiving before pilgrims.

Make donations to organizations controlled and directed by Native Americans is another great way to reframe Thanksgiving.

Make connections to current events

Compare the history of Thanksgiving with what is happening in the world today. Synthesize it into a lesson on the true definition of a pilgrim; people who left their homeland in search of freedom.

Plus, drawing parallels between now and then can be as simple as pointing out that all children have ancestors.

Focus on critical thinking

Thanksgiving is a great time to get children to question and understand different perspectives.

Discuss how American by birth people are described in textbooks and what historical details are missing from those descriptions.

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If you liked this story, check out these five ways to get your kids involved by giving back at Thanksgiving.

The post office How To Explain Thanksgiving Reality Versus Fiction To Your Kids appeared first on Aware.

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