Friday, November 27, 2009

The "real" story of Thanksgiving -- reaching mind share

As genealogists we know there are two (or more) sides to every story. We also know that history is often romanticized to favor one version or another, depending on who is doing the telling -- history textbooks are no exception. As the poet Emily Dickinson wrote, "Tell all the truth but tell it slant." The story of Thanksgiving is, perhaps, one of the most controversial of all holidays in what it celebrates and how the story is told. Although racial discrimination and bigotry still exists in the this country and in the world, most non-Native Americans are aware of and respect the plight of Native Americans. So much so, in fact, that one of the most popular yet elusive of all genealogical quests in tracking down one's legendary Native American ancestry. That said, the pain of that heritage lingers in the modern generation, as illustrated in the recent article on entitled, "Thanks? Giving? A History of Civil Rights." The PBS special, "We Shall Remain," is an attempt to tell the whole story of the Native American up to the present time, in what producers call "an unprecedented collaboration between Native and non-Native filmmakers." Episode 1, After the Mayflower explores that first Thanksgiving and its consequences. Old traditions die hard -- it may be awhile yet before the "real" story of Thanksgiving reaches mind share.

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