The most common story told when teaching about the history of “Thanksgiving” is that Native Americans helped English colonists figure out how to live in the New World at Plymouth. Then, the colonists and Native Americans gathered in 1621 to celebrate and commemorate the peace.
Unfortunately, the peace at Plymouth did not last. Over time, the relationship between the Wampanoag tribe and the Plymouth settlers became strained. As more and more English came to the New World, they wanted to control the local Native American tribes, including the Wampanoag. The English executed a number of Wampanoag men, leading to war being declared in 1675. It has been estimated that as many as 50% of the Native Americans in New England were killed as a result of this war.
In 1637, Massachusetts Colony Governor John Winthrop celebrated the return of hunters who massacred 700 Pequot Indians. He called the celebration that ensued a “Thanksgiving.”
However, these were not the first times Thanksgiving was celebrated. Decades before, members of the Spanish Seloy tribe held a “Thanksgiving” celebration in Florida.