Native History: It’s Memorial Day—In 1637, the Pequot Massacre Happened
This Date in Native History: On May 26, 1637, a Puritan force fortified by Native allies massacred a Pequot fort in Connecticut, killing as many as 500 men, women and children and burning the village to the ground.
This is the massacre which we celebrate today as Thanksgiving.
The first Thanksgiving Day did occur in the year 1637, but it was nothing like our Thanksgiving today. On that day the Massachusetts Colony Governor, John Winthrop, proclaimed such a “Thanksgiving” to celebrate the safe return of a band of heavily armed hunters, all colonial volunteers. They had just returned from their journey to what is now Mystic, Connecticut where they massacred 700 Pequot Indians. Seven hundred Indians - men, women and children - all murdered.
This day is still remembered today, 373 years later. No, it’s been long forgotten by white people, by European Christians. But it is still fresh in the mind of many Indians. A group calling themselves the United American Indians of New England meet each year at Plymouth Rock on Cole’s Hill for what they say is a Day of Mourning. They gather at the feet of a stature of Chief Massasoit of the Wampanoag to remember the long gone Pequot. They do not call it Thanksgiving. There is no football game afterward.
Richard Greener, “The True Story of Thanksgiving”