Patterico's Pontifications

11/22/2007

The Thanksgiving Story, Version 1

Filed under: Miscellaneous — DRJ @ 12:26 am



[Guest post by DRJ]

Boys and girls, gather round while Caprice Hollins, the Seattle school district’s director of Equity, Race & Learning Support, tells us the Thanksgiving story:

“Seattle public schools want a side of political correctness served on your Thanksgiving table.

Washington state’s largest school district sent letters to teachers and other employees suggesting Thanksgiving should be “a time of mourning” for its Native American students. The memo, from Caprice Hollins, the district’s director of Equity, Race & Learning Support, included an attachment to a paper titled “Deconstructing the Myths of ‘The First Thanksgiving.'”

It includes 11 “myths” disputing everything from what was served at the first Thanksgiving (no mashed potatoes or cranberries) and who provided the food to the nature of the Pilgrims themselves: Myth No. 3 calls the colonists “rigid fundamentalists” who came to the New World “fully intending to take the land away from its native inhabitants.”

But what got the Internet abuzz was Myth No. 11: “Thanksgiving is a happy time.” It was followed by “Fact: For many Indian people, ‘Thanksgiving’ is a time of mourning … a bitter reminder of 500 years of betrayal returned for friendship.”

Hollins would not defend her letter, but David Tucker, a spokesman for the district, said it was an effort to be sensitive to minorities in Seattle schools. “One of the core elements in education is not just understanding your own life history but also those of others,” he said.

But one Seattle-area tribe says Thanksgiving is not somber on the reservation but a time to see friends and family, as it is for other Americans. Native Americans in the Northwest celebrate the holiday with turkey and salmon, said Daryl Williams of the Tulalip Tribes. Before the period of bitter and violent relationships between natives and their culturally European counterparts, they worked together to survive, he said.

“The spirit of Thanksgiving, of people working together to help each other, is the spirit I think that needs to grow in this country, because this country has gotten very divisive,” he said.”

Click here to read the attachment sent by the Seattle public school district, Deconstructing the Myths of “The First Thanksgiving.” Here are the opening paragraphs:

“What is it about the story of “The First Thanksgiving” that makes it essential to be taught in virtually every grade from preschool through high school? What is it about the story that is so seductive? Why has it become an annual elementary school tradition to hold Thanksgiving pageants, with young children dressing up in paper-bag costumes and feather-duster headdresses and marching around the schoolyard? Why is it seen as necessary for fake “pilgrims” and fake “Indians” (portrayed by real children, many of whom are Indian) to sit down every year to a fake feast, acting out fake scenarios and reciting fake dialogue about friendship? And why do teachers all over the country continue (for the most part, unknowingly) to perpetuate this myth year after year after year?

Is it because as Americans we have a deep need to believe that the soil we live on and the country on which it is based was founded on integrity and cooperation? This belief would help contradict any feelings of guilt that could haunt us when we look at our role in more recent history in dealing with other indigenous peoples in other countries. If we dare to give up the “myth” we may have to take responsibility for our actions both concerning indigenous peoples of this land as well as those brought to this land in violation of everything that makes us human. The realization of these truths untold might crumble the foundation of what many believe is a true democracy. As good people, can we be strong enough to learn the truths of our collective past? Can we learn from our mistakes? This would be our hope.”

Pretty depressing stuff. Instead of Pilgrim and Indian costumes, I guess they expect kids to dress in sackcloth and ashes at Thanksgiving.

— DRJ

29 Responses to “The Thanksgiving Story, Version 1”

  1. Some people can’t be happy unless they have inflicted misery on everyone else.

    Beldar (34eb07)

  2. Mz Hollins is just one of at least ten million college indoctrinated America Haters who have basically taken over most of the country. The most obvious takeover is the Movie Studios which are so loaded with Ms. Hollins and her pals that it is impossible to get a movie made that doesn’t attack our own country, and in spite of the nearly $300 million in losses nobody has been fired and nobody will be fired because everybody agrees with everybody. The attacks on Thanksgiving, Christmas, religion, and democracy itself through the tyranny of Political Correctness, will continue because everybody agrees with the purveyors of these doctrines.

    Howard Veit (cc8b85)

  3. What country would you want to be living in based on its government,economy and society? I will take America. I am thankful that I am an American.
    Now that doesn’t mean we are perfect and don’t need to correct deficiencies, but from a prctical point of view there is none better.
    Happy Thanksgiving

    Moose (dcacef)

  4. I am optimistic that this will not get legs and go into a lot of other state school districts. Pretty silly stuff. PC can always be offset by good parental involvement with their own kids.
    I worry more about some of the educational methodologies they use. Our kids are four years apart in age from youngest to oldest. The first and third had teachers who stressed phonics and proper spelling. The second had a first grade teacher who believed that “spelling like it sounds” was okay. It took a few years to get her to lose that year of influence.

    voiceofreason (1c973a)

  5. I like the second letter, which tells us that Thanksgiving is important for its truthiness. Talk about a disingenuous article, by the by: as soon as I saw that the author wrote, “Thanksgiving should ‘be a time of mourning,'” I knew that “should” was nonsense. The point is far simpler: there may be some crazed native americans, possibly suffering from bipolar disorder and perpetual outrage syndrome, that are bummed out by thanksgiving. I’m sure that’s true.

    So why the fuss here? I’d suggest that yall get checked for perpetual outrage syndrome, because this letter is a thin reason for all of this outrage.

    jpe (bd88bc)

  6. I can imagime the holidays for people like that woman. All wearing black, somber music, and bland, horrible food.

    They sit there, hating themselves for what THEY did to the indians… its THEIR fault, oh god the shame of it all…

    I’ll be having my second peice of pie at around that time, and watching football.

    Loving life, and laughing at those who can’t even cheer up enough to have some freakin’ turkey.

    Happy thanksgiving everyone! See you all saturday.

    Scott Jacobs (a1de9d)

  7. What does it say that there is a ”school district’s director of Equity, Race & Learning Support’‘?? If there were ever a useless make-work job for the perpetually aggrieved (and ignorant), this must be it. This is a taxpayer funded position?
    I realize that this is Seattle, and so we should b indulgent of the foibles of the citizens there, much as we would the output of a sheltered workshop, but there ought to be some limits. If I discover that money is being taken from me by force of law in order to pay imbeciles like this, to further stupidities like this, I will be very unhappy.

    tnmartin (ebf171)

  8. So stupid, I’ll just jump to my close….
    …yeeeesh.

    paul from fl (47918a)

  9. If its not thanksgiving then its christmas they whine that why should we feel happy our the holidays when others dont i mean its not our fualt their living in poverty ots the fact they are run by a liberal communist dictators who belong to the UN

    krazy kagu (d7018c)

  10. I’ve always thought that Thanksgiving was a time to feel grateful for our wonderful bounty. When I was in grade school in the late 50’s and early 60’s, this included a reference to God. God forbid we mention God today in school.

    Putting Indians at the eating table was symbolic of the notion that “we are all in this together.” The cowboy western movie was big back then so clearly Indians were dangerous and yet we saw that we could cooperate with each other.

    This is myth but it is certainly one in keeping with what was useful to our culture.

    Today’s “educators” see a different myth: That our culture is bad and that everything we have obtained is the result of our bad values. And the bottom line, the teachers say, is that we should feel guilty for our bounty, not grateful.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    Alta Bob (91bab8)

  11. What Really Happened at Plymouth
    By Murray N. Rothbard
    http://www.mises.org/story/2395

    +++++++++

    The Great Thanksgiving Hoax
    By Richard J. Maybury
    http://www.mises.org/story/336

    +++++++++

    The Tragedy of the Commons
    By John Stossel
    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/printpage/?url=http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2007/11/the_tragedy_of_the_commons.html

    +++++++++

    William Bradford: History of Plymouth Plantation, c. 1650
    http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1650bradford.html

    Horatio (55069c)

  12. Poor, poor trolls to have to suffer so by living in a country where class is not dictated by birth; where religion is a matter of choice; where opportunity abounds.

    Such an awful place. Why is it then that these trolls do not seek their leftist paradise as soon as possible and leave this land of woe?

    Bless our troops, thank God for our blesings, have a wonderful Thanksgiving, even the trolls.

    Thomas Jackson (bf83e0)

  13. Hear, hear, Thomas!

    Happy Thanksgiving to all.

    As an educator, I chuckled at the thin gruel that is Ms. Hollins’ scholarly documentation. As with many ethnic studies papers, “sources” abound with citations such as “conversation with…” If a self-styled expert says, so, it must be true, in our PC world!

    Patricia (f56a97)

  14. last sentence in first link reveals that the school district’s website previously claimed that individualism and planning ahead are examples of cultural racism. one more blessing to count.

    a year after indian casinos were legalized in texas, tonto is reputed to have told the lone ranger “i make more money than you do kemosabe, you must acknowledge my superior status by riding ten yards behind me at all times.”

    assistant devil's advocate (f3613a)

  15. “Some people can’t be happy unless they have inflicted misery on everyone else.”

    Hence Republicans.

    David Ehrenstein (832bb9)

  16. If Ms. Hollins is so upset, she should drive to the nearest reservation and offer up her home and belongings to the first Native American she sees. Perhaps she would feel better, since in her mind she technically shouldn’t have those things anyway.

    Matt B. (9234b3)

  17. In Seattle, she doesn’t have to go to the nearest reservation.

    Random plots of land can be bought by local tribes – and then those plots can be converted into “Historically Tribal Land”. So she can basically just walk a couple of blocks to the nearest casino in order to lose her home and belongings. Service, you know.

    Al (b624ac)

  18. If we dare to give up the “myth” we may have to take responsibility for our actions both concerning indigenous peoples of this land as well as those brought to this land in violation of everything that makes us human

    Yeah, because I was alive back then. I’ll take responsibility for something I didn’t do. K.

    /no

    chaos (9c54c6)

  19. voiceofreason, I don’t share your optimism. In my experience, this kind of nuttiness is spreading farther.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  20. As an American Indian, this letter from the Seattle School District infuriated me on a number of levels. One being that it is patronizing in its portrayal of a people still bound to something that happened ages ago, as if we don’t have the intelligence and chutzpah to overcome like any other indiginous people in the world have had to. Its almost smells as if a certain group of people wish us to cling to the horrors of the past and not the extraordinary benefits and gifts that have come our way. I, for one, refuse to succumb to this polically correct pandering.

    This isn’t meant to be self-serving (and hopefully isn’t tacky) but I posted a response to Myth #11 because this American Indian was compelled to bring another perspective than what it is expected of us.

    http://festeringswamp.journalspace.com/

    Dana (95f476)

  21. . . .bringing to mind the lovely Joan McCracken
    accompanied by Ray McDonald and the ensemble in my favorite number from the immortal Good News (1947):

    “A medicine man I met
    Said don’t get yourself in a sweat
    When things look gray,
    Just shrug and say:
    It musta been something I Et.

    If you’re feeling mad as wet hen,
    Mad as you can possibly get then
    Pass that peace pipe, bury that tomahawk
    Like those Chichameks, Cherokees, Chapultepecs do.

    That cold shoulder
    Never solved a single complaint
    When you’re older
    You’ll wipe off all of that war paint.

    If you find yourself in a fury,
    Be your own judge and your own jury,
    Pass that peace pipe, bury that hatchet
    Like those Chichameks, Cherokees, Chapultepecs do

    If you want to hover out west, too,
    You will soon discover it’s best to
    Pass that peace pipe, bury that tomahwak
    Like those Chichameks, Cherokees, Chapultepecs do

    Even in Colonial days, you
    Know the ceremonial ways to
    Pass that peace pipe, bury that tomahwak
    Like those Chichameks, Cherokees, Chapultepecs do

    Pull your ears in,
    Try to use a little control
    When all clears in,
    You’l lbe the top man on the totem pole

    So if you wanna be an all-right guy,
    Not a long face blues-in-the-night guy
    Write that apology and dispatch it
    When you quarrel it’s gran to patch it
    Pass that peace pipe and bury that hatchet
    Like those Choctaws, Chickawsaws, Chattahoochees, Chippewas
    And those Chichamecks, Cherokees, Chapultepecs,
    And those chakootamees, Chepacheps
    Ncchicopees, Choktahs, Changos,
    Chattanoogas Cheerkarohs DOOOOOOO!”

    David Ehrenstein (832bb9)

  22. SPQR,
    I have no idea if you have kids and their ages so it is difficult to gauge your perspective. Mine are all just about out of the house now. The PC influence they got in public ed as well as college made for a lot of interesting conversations.
    But they adopted a fairly moderate-conservative position on family and values that I am pleased with. It wasn’t so much the wisdom I imparted as the willingness to let them explore/debate the different ideas they learned about. Oftentimes we were in disagreement but letting them talk it out helped I think..
    I’m pretty comfortable with the idea of them having/raising kids which is probably the real test.
    Just my two cents

    voiceofreason (679206)

  23. Two of my good friends are Native Americans (brother and sister). You know what they’re doing for Thanksgiving? Having a giant turkey and lots of other fun stuff.

    Happy Thanksgiving to all!

    the wolf (3cd7f8)

  24. Don’t really see the big deal. It’s not as if Thanksgiving is some sort of idealistic holiday for kids anyway. There’s nothing quintessentially American about it either. Better bash Thanksgiving than Christmas I say!

    Victor (4db3ba)

  25. A note to the Seattle School system I shot off yesterday.

    Dear Maria L. Goodloe-Johnson, Ph.D.,

    I live in Bangkok, Thailand and while perusing today’s headlines I came upon the story of your organization’s Thanksgiving message to your students and their parents. While I do not want to condemn you I do want to voice my displeasure and call for the dismissal of Caprice Hollins, the Director of Equity, Race & Learning Support, for disseminating her destructive, hateful and thoughtless view of our Thanksgiving national holiday.

    One wonders what the schools are teaching our children today and to what end unthinking, mean-spirited administrators are spewing this type of drivel. You are well aware that the United States has become more diverse in race and culture however children need to become grounded in a belief system. Children should be given the information and allowed to form their own conclusions based on a wide range of knowledge.

    Your employee, Dr. Hollins, behavior is unconscionable and reprehensible and at the very least should be fired. If there is an anti-American cabal in your organization it should be dealt with in an appropriate manner. The children are the future of the world and should not be subjected to a personal agenda by an obvious racist fanatic.

    Your prompt attention in this matter is greatly appreciated.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    David Barkdull

    David Barkdull (c8003f)

  26. This woman’s comments set her up for the local newspaper to track her every move and meal on Thanksgiving.

    davod (5bdbd3)

  27. The Ballad of William Sycamore

    My father, he was a mountaineer,
    His fist was a knotty hammer;
    He was quick on his feet as a running deer,
    And he spoke with a Yankee stammer.

    My mother, she was merry and brave,
    And so she came to her labor,
    With a tall green fir for her doctor grave
    And a stream for her comforting neighbor.

    And some are wrapped in the linen fine,
    And some like a godling’s scion;
    But I was cradled on twigs of pine
    And the skin of a mountain lion.

    And some remember a white, starched lap
    And a ewer with silver handles;
    But I remember a coonskin cap
    And the smell of bayberry candles.

    The cabin logs, with the bark still rough,
    And my mother who laughed at trifles,
    And the tall, lank visitors, brown as snuff,
    With their long, straight squirrel-rifles.

    I can hear them dance, like a foggy song,
    Through the deepest one of my slumbers,
    The fiddle squeaking the boots along
    And my father calling the numbers.

    The quick feet shaking the puncheon-floor,
    And the fiddle squealing and squealing,
    Till the dried herbs rattled above the door
    And the dust went up to the ceiling.

    There are children lucky from dawn till dusk,
    But never a child so lucky!
    For I cut my teeth on “Money Musk”
    In the Bloody Ground of Kentucky!

    When I grew tall as the Indian corn,
    My father had little to lend me,
    But he gave me his great, old powder-horn
    And his woodsman’s skill to befriend me.

    With a leather shirt to cover my back,
    And a redskin nose to unravel
    Each forest sign, I carried my pack
    As far as a scout could travel.

    Till I lost my boyhood and found my wife,
    A girl like a Salem clipper!
    A woman straight as a hunting-knife
    With as eyes as bright as the Dipper!

    We cleared our camp where the buffalo feed,
    Unheard-of streams were our flagons;
    And I sowed my sons like the apple-seed
    On the trail of the Western wagons.

    They were right, tight boys, never sulky or slow,
    A fruitful, a goodly muster.
    The eldest died at the Alamo.
    The youngest fell with Custer.

    The letter that told it burned my hand.
    Yet we smiled and said, “So be it!”
    But I could not live when they fenced the land,
    For it broke my heart to see it.

    I saddled a red, unbroken colt
    And rode him into the day there;
    And he threw me down like a thunderbolt
    And rolled on me as I lay there.

    The hunter’s whistle hummed in my ear
    As the city-men tried to move me,
    And I died in my boots like a pioneer
    With the whole wide sky above me.

    Now I lie in the heart of the fat, black soil,
    Like the seed of a prairie-thistle;
    It has washed my bones with honey and oil
    And picked them clean as a whistle.

    And my youth returns, like the rains of Spring,
    And my sons, like the wild-geese flying;
    And I lie and hear the meadow-lark sing
    And have much content in my dying.

    Go play with the towns you have built of blocks,
    The towns where you would have bound me!
    I sleep in my earth like a tired fox,
    And my buffalo have found me.

    nk (09a321)

  28. nk,

    “The Ballad of William Sycamore” is one of my favorite poems. A toast to mutual good taste.

    Leviticus (43095b)

  29. It’s a pure American poem. It could never be translated into a foreign language or appreciated by anyone without an American conscience.

    nk (09a321)


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