Subject: Social Studies
Time: Minimum 1 hour
Thanksgiving is often the first and most pervasive representation of Native Americans students experience in a school setting; and yet, the narrative around this Colonial feast is fraught with stereotypes and misinformation. It will likely surprise students to learn that “Thanksgiving” as we think of it today was not popularized until the 20th century, and the original feast was only a minor event in the lives of the early colonists. So why do we have this grand mythology around this unimportant fall gathering, and why is it so ingrained in the American identity?
In this activity, students examine their current beliefs and assumptions about Thanksgiving before diving into the only known written account of the event in 1621. Through discussion and hands-on activities, students will compare the documented event with the myth we celebrate today, and grapple with why knowing the true story even matters.