Thursday Thought: Thanksgiving

by | October 14, 2010
filed under Politics, Racism

On our Plymouth-bound vacation, my sister Amy, my nephew Owen, and I visit the Mashantucket Pequot Museum, a stone’s throw from Foxwoods…We sit in the museum’s theater and watch a film – a dramatic reenactment of the massacre at the Mystic fort. Owen is seven. His knowledge of seventeenth-century New England derives entirely from what he learned in his school’s Thanksgiving pageant the previous fall and repeated viewings of Scooby-Doo and the Witch’s Ghost

When the film shows the Pequot clashing with the Connecticut settlers, Owen whispers, “I don’t get it. Why are they fighting? They eat together on Thanksgiving.”

Cut to the Pequot fort, where we have already seen a little girl around Owen’s’ age playing with a cornhusk doll while being teased by her brother. The reenactor playing Captain Mason yells, “Burn them!” As the wigwams catch fire, Pequot kids are shrieking and holding on to their mothers. The English shoot at the Pequot who flee the flames. Horrified, Owen tugs my sleeve, demanding, “Aunt Sarah! When do they have Thanksgiving?”

“The one with the Pilgrims?” I whisper. “That happened sixteen years earlier.”

Owen closes his eyes and refuses to watch the rest of the movie. When the lights go up, he asks his mother, “Who won?”

“The English,” she replies.

From The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell.


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