Pilgrims. Pumpkins. Turkeys. That’s what I think of in November. Let me be clear, I love Thanksgiving. Mainly because I love food, and partially because I am thankful. But how much of that Thanksgiving picture from my 3rd grade textbook is rooted in reality? Truth be told, we know very little about the first Thanksgiving celebration. We know there was no cranberry sauce or pumpkin pie. We also know “it’s possible that they did eat turkey, though it’s just as likely that venison and fish were on the menu as well.” (I suddenly imagine Charlie Tuna starring in Thanksgiving-themed cartoons, and it’s a chilling thought.)
Though the menu might be off, it seems we have largely gotten the harmonious nature of that first Thanksgiving right. I fact, “the majority of its participants were Natives – not Pilgrims.” Imagine it, dozens of Native Americans and Pilgrims celebrating the harvest and their shared prosperity.
That was 1621. So,why is it that we did not pass the Indian Citizenship Act (a/k/a the Synder Act) until 1924? It took us over 300 years to grant Native Americans full citizenship rights. Over 300 years to consider them legal equals.
I imagine those people sharing a meal in 1621 would find that timeline hard to believe. They could not have foreseen the Trial of Tears or Little Bighorn. The could not have imagined us moving….backward.
It does happen though. When we don’t pay attention. When we forget. So, this Thanksgiving, please join me in being thankful for this great country, for its many types of citizens, for is rich (yet imperfect) history, and for all that amazing food.
See the article in the November 2017 issue of DICTA.
Chris W. McCarty, a shareholder in our Knoxville office, practices in the areas of employment law, education law and civil litigation. Mr. McCarty handles matters before state and federal courts throughout Tennessee, and has argued before the Tennessee Court of Appeals. Mr. McCarty also presents on employment and education law topics. His articles on those topics have been seen in numerous publications, including HR Magazine, the Tennessee Bar Journal and the Knoxville Business Journal. Mr. McCarty is approved as a member of the American Arbitration Association’s (AAA) Panel of Employment Arbitrators.