The stories we tell ourselves matter. They shape how we see ourselves and create our reality. Kinda daunting, huh? Also: a huge open territory of opportunity. Think about it—just by what you tell yourself and how you live into that truth, you get to craft your life’s best narrative yet.
🙋🏾♀️ So. What about stories we collectively tell ourselves? Like the lie of Thanksgiving?
That shit’s powerful too. And only drives home how deeply stories burrow into our psyche, even when the underlying narrative behind a story is broken or untruthful. It’s as if our minds are architecturally designed to house every bit of data we process in story format, and once that format latches onto our psyche, there is no easy way to evict it.
📚: Here’s some facts often lost in the untruthful narrative of Thanksgiving:
- Nope. No turkey or kumbaya feast. Europeans arrived in Wampanoag country in 1620 to a harsh winter. To survive, they raided Patuxet burial grounds for grain.
- In 1621, dude named Edward Winslow wrote about a shared meal with Wampanoag King Massasoit and 90 of his men. Five deer met the butcher block for the spread. The End…well, minus 400+ years of colonial wtfckery👀🙈
- Mid-war, in October 1863, President Lincoln made Thanksgiving a national holiday.
So, how did we go from these bare facts to an epic myth about pardoning turkeys and Native folks welcoming colonizers?
Simple. Someone told that story. And then kept telling it. Cause it served their agenda. Until a whole nation repeated the lie and took a broken narrative as fact.
How do we evict a broken story’s grip on our collective psyche? ✍🏽 Write your truth.
Tell your story. Seriously. Be brave in what you know, especially when your lived experience counters mythic and nefarious narratives. I mean. What would our story of Thanksgiving be, if we had a Wampanoag account to counter the white washed myth?
That truth looks like Wamsutta Frank B. James’ telling the Wampanoag side, in 1970.
📣⚡️: “Our spirit refuses to die” Wamsutta James said.
A Wampanoag leader, James bravely told a very different account of what happened in 1621 and beyond, in a speech that was banned by the very folks who initially invited him to speak at a Massachusetts state dinner. Many outside James’ community refused to hear him. They gagged James’ words for decades. But that didn’t stop him and many indigenous folks from writing and speaking their truth.
Today, public schools in Massachusetts acknowledge a more complex narrative than the kumbaya myth long choked down children’s throats every November. And historic institutions like Plymouth Patuxet Museum (formerly Plymoth Plantation) are reconsidering their engagement and sanction of a broken story.
What will your story help us reimagine?
You don’t have to start at the huge nation-making project level. Matter of fact, it’s best you don’t. Start with the story that makes you uncomfortable speaking it out loud, because telling it truthfully requires your bravery.
Tell that story. I’ll be here cheering you on. And yes, also gathered around the table to celebrate a more true truthful take on our shared and evolving story.
p.s.s. Read Wamsutta James’ suppressed 1970 speech here