Turkeys, Deer Meat, and War
The first Thanksgiving with Pilgrims and Native Americans celebrating a joyous festive meal together complete with tables, wild turkeys and pumpkin pie, like most of my childhood stories, needs some tweaking in light of historical facts. In fact Massasoit, the Pokanoket’s chief, brought a hundred of his people, more than twice the entire Pilgrim population. He also provided most of the meat, bringing five freshly killed deer. They ate with their hands and their knives (Forks did not come to New England until the end of the 17th century and I'm not sure I want my grandkids to learn this.) William Bradford, however, does verify that there was a "good store of wild turkeys." One thing is clear: the Pilgrims would never have made it through the first year if the Native Americans had not chosen to assist them. God definitely did cause them to land at the right place, get exposed to the right tribe, and generate the right cooperation.
I've heard the Thanksgiving story often, but I forgot that the son of William Bradford and the son of Massasoit fifty-four years later ignited a war that claimed the lives of 8 % of the English in Plymouth Colony and 60 to 80 % of the Native American population. A passion for land and wealth produced lies, distrust, and war.
James, Jesus' half-brother, did get his facts right when he wrote, "What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God." James 5:1-2
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