USA (MNN) — Thursday marks the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States. Celebrated every year on the fourth Thursday of November, Thanksgiving is rooted in U.S. history.
In 1621, more than 400 years ago, European pilgrims shared a harvest feast with some Wampanoag Native Americans.
“The initial relationship between the pilgrims and the Wampanoag Native Americans was relatively workable,” Ron Hutchcraft of Ron Hutchcraft Ministries says.
“They had a peace treaty that lasted 50 years; there was mutual respect between the primary chief [of the Wampanoag] and the primary chief of the pilgrims, Governor Bradford. [Those men] died, and it started to seriously go downhill after that.”
Today, after centuries of loss, some Native communities approach Thanksgiving with mixed emotions.
“If you think about history [from a Native perspective,] Thanksgiving Day is the first chapter of what became a tragic story that costs you your land, culture, language; in many cases, your lives,” Hutchcraft says.
“Some Native Americans call Thanksgiving the Day of Mourning.”
Native American Christians offer a slightly different perspective.
“I have some Native American brothers and sisters who put it this way: ‘I am always sad about what the coming of the Europeans meant, ultimately, that our people lost. But I am forever grateful that, with them, came the Good News of God’s Son,’” Hutchcraft says.
“[A Native pastor says,] ‘Were it not for the coming of those people, that message (the Gospel) might never have reached us.’”
Like the cross, Thanksgiving is a powerful symbol.
“It brought death on the one hand, but on the other hand, it brought life – an interesting mixture that Thanksgiving represents to a Native American who loves Jesus,” Hutchcraft says.
Want to know more? “There is a blog available [on our website] that would be a wonderful next step for you,” Hutchcraft says.”
Or, “If you’d like to hear young Native Americans tell the story of what God’s doing these days among their people, then you want to go to [OnEagesWings.com]”
Header image is a representative stock photo courtesy of Pro Church Media/Unsplash.