Religion

Native American Pastor Celebrates Thanksgiving, Recalls Fond Memories

| by Michael Allen

Some Native Americans do not celebrate Thanksgiving because the pilgrim settlements led to the genocide of many tribes in America.

However, Native American Pastor Ernest Custalow has warm memories of growing up on the Mattiponi reservation, paying taxes to the governor of Virginia and celebrating Thanksgiving.

"The way we paid taxes was to kill a deer and turkey to give to the governor of Virginia. We still do that," Pastor Custalow, of the Grace Church of Fredericksburg in Virginia, told The Christian Post. "I grew up hunting for the governor."

"They would present it to the governor usually Tuesday... Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday before Thanksgiving," added Pastor Custalow.

However, since 1970, many native Americans have gathered at Cole's Hill, near Plymouth Rock, where the pilgrims landed, to observe the "National Day of Mourning."

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“I think there seems to be this myth in this country propagated about Thanksgiving that, ‘Oh, you know, the Pilgrims and the Indians all sat down to have a meal together and they were good friends and everybody lived happily ever after,” Mahtowin Munro, of the United American Indians of New England, told Boston.com. “It’s really important for us to stand up and talk about what the reality was and to teach others about that reality.”

While the pilgrims and the Wampanoag tribe did have a Thanksgiving dinner in 1621, the holiday didn't officially begin until 1637.

Thanksgiving was officially designated by John Winthrop, the Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, to celebrate the men who had fought the Pequot tribe in Mystic, Conn.

In 1970, Wampanoag tribe leader Wamsutta Frank James came up with the idea of the "National Day of Mourning."

However, Pastor Custalow seemed to think that Native Americans on the East Coast, which is where the "National Day of Mourning" takes place, didn't oppose Thanksgiving.

"Because we live on the East Coast [I've] never run into too many Indians who took exception to that, this Thanksgiving holiday," stated Pastor Custalow. "We always celebrated it on our reservation."

Sources: The Christian Post, Boston.com / Image Credit: United States Library of Congress