By: Caden Ligman
Years before the first Pilgrims landed in the Americas, the continent was inhabited by Native Americans. When they did eventually come, the Pilgrims started to colonize America. The Native Americans responded to them in various ways. One of these ways was feasting with the Pilgrims, on an autumn day, in 1621. This day is now a national holiday in the U.S. known as Thanksgiving. It is where we celebrate this peaceful interaction between the two parties.
As the Pilgrims continued to colonize North America, tensions between the Native Americans and the colonists grew. The colonists grew hostile and battles broke out around the country. Less than a year after the first Thanksgiving, the Powhatan tribe attacked colonists in Virginia.
This attack is what has come to be known as the Jamestown Massacre. The Powhatan killed 347 of the colonists. This massacre was the first of many conflicts between the colonists and Native Americans. Local governments began to take advantage of the Native Americans, stealing their land and killing tens, of thousands, of their people.
After the U.S. became a country in 1776, elected presidents began to further terrorize the Native Americans. When Andrew Jackson was elected in 1826 he began his campaign to relocate Native Americans away from the colonies.
Jackson introduced the Indian Removal Act in May, 1830. The act gave the president the ability to negotiate with the Native American tribes to relocate them from their land east of the Mississippi in exchange for new land west of the Mississippi. A few tribes complied with these negotiations and moved west, however, the Five Civilized Tribes (Chickasaw, Choctaw, Seminole, Cherokee and Creek) were not as compliant and refused to relocate. The U.S. responded to this by using force to remove them.
Today, the Indian Removal Act is seen as a prime example of how horribly Native Americans were treated.
We celebrate Thanksgiving each year with family and friends. Thanksgiving is a holiday where people appreciate the ones who are close to them and give thanks to the ones they love.
The first Thanksgiving marked the beginning of the relationship between the Pilgrims and the Native Americans. This relationship however, did not stand the test of time, and sadly, turned hostile, eventually leading to the Indian Removal Act and much more.
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