Mountain Views News, Combined Edition Saturday, November 27, 2021

MVNews this week:  Page B:4


 Mountain Views News Saturday, November 27, 2021 


[Nyerges is the author of “How to Survive Anywhere,” “Foraging California,” “Enter the 
Forest” and other books. He leads courses in the native uses of plants. He can be reached 
at Box 41834, Eagle Rock, CA 90041, or] 

I met a man who began to discuss with me the column I wrote for this paper 
last week, about the historical origins of Thanksgiving, and what happened, 
and what didn’t happen. 

“I was a little puzzled after I read it,” Burt told me. “I wanted to know more. I 

understand that the first historical Thanksgiving may have not happened the 
way we are told as children,” he told me, “but how did we get to where we are today? What I 
understood from your column was that there are historical roots, and that we today remember 
those roots and try to be very thankful, but the connection was unclear.” Burt and I then had a 
very long conversation. 

A newspaper column is typically not long enough to provide the “big picture” of the entire 
foundation of such a commemoration, as well as all the twists and turns that have occurred 
along the way. But here is the condensed version of what I told my new friend Burt. 

First, try reading any of the many books that are available that describe the first so-called 
“first Thanksgiving” at the Plymouth colony that at least attempts to also show the Indigenous 
perspective. You will quickly see that this was not simply the European pilgrims and the native 
people sitting down to a great meal and giving thanks to their respective Gods, though that 
probably did occur. In fact, the indigenous peoples and the newcomers had thanksgiving days 
on a pretty regular basis. 

As you take the time to explore the motives of the many key players of our so-called “first 
Thanksgiving,” in the context of that time, you will see that though the Europeans were now 
increasingly flowing into the eastern seaboard, their long-term presence had not been allowed 

– until this point. Massasoit was the political-military leader of the Wampanoag confederation,
which was the stronger native group in the area. However, after disease had wiped out manyof the native people, Massasoit was worried about the neighboring long-time enemies – theNarragansett -- to the west. The gathering of the European leaders of the Plimouth Colony andMassasoit and entourage had been more-or-less brokered by Tisquantum (aka Squanto) whospoke English. 
Yes, there had been much interaction between the new colonists and native people for some 
time, and this gathering of 3 days in 1621 was intended to seal the deal between the colonists 
aligning with Massasoit. The exact date is unknown, but it was sometime between September 
21 and November 9. 

Yes, historians say that a grand meal followed, including mostly meat. The colony remained and 
there was relative peace for the next 10 to 50 years, depending on which historians were correct 
in their reading of the meager notes. The historical record indicates that the new colonists 
learned how to hunt, forage, practice medicine, make canoes and moccasins, and much more, 
from the indigenous people. Even Tisquantum taught the colonists how to farm using fish 
scraps, ironically, a bit of farming detail he picked up during his few years in Europe. 

Politicians and religious leaders continued to practice the giving of thanks, in their churches 
and in their communities, and that is a good thing. They would hearken back to what gradually 
became known as the “first Thanksgiving” in order to give thanks for all the bounty they found 
and created in this new world, always giving thanks to God! But clearly, the indigenous people 
would have a very different view of the consequences of this 1621 pact, which gradually and 
inevitably meant the loss of their lands and further decimation of their peoples from disease. 
Of course, there was not yet a “United States of America,” and it was with a bit of nostalgia and 
selective memory that we refer to this semi-obscure gathering of two peoples as some sort of 
foundational event in the development of the United States. And it is understandable from the 
perspective of a national mythology that the native people were forgotten and the “gifts from 
God” remembered. 

My new friend Burt was nodding his head, beginning to see that there was much under the 
surface of this holiday. I recommended that he read such books as “1491: New Revelations of the 
Americas Before Columbus” by Mann, “Native American History: Idiot’s Guide” by Fleming, 
and others. 

As I still believe, giving thanks is a good thing – good for the soul and good for the society. Just 
be sure to always give thanks where it is due! 

Eventually, in the centuries that followed, Thanksgiving was celebrated on various days in 
various places. George Washington declared it an official Thanksgiving in 1789. However, 
the day did not become standardized as the final Thursday each November until 1863 with a 
proclamation by Abraham Lincoln. 

The gross commercialization of Thanksgiving is a somewhat recent manifestation of the way in 
which we have tried to extract money from just about anything. One way to break that cycle is 
to just choose to do something different. 

When I used to visit my parents’ home for annual Thanksgiving gatherings, I disliked the loud 
arguing and banter, the loud TV in the background, and the way everyone (including me) ate 
so much that we had stomach aches! I felt that Thanksgiving should be about something more 
than all that. I changed that by simply no longer attending, and then visiting my parents the 
following day with a quiet meal. It took my parents a few years to get used to my changes, but 
eventually they did. 

This year, before the actual Thanksgiving day, I enjoyed a home-made meal with neighbors and 
friends. Before we sat down to eat, everyone stated the things they are thankful-for before the 
meal. Nearly everyone cited “friends and family,” among other things. It was quiet, intimate, 
and the way that I have long felt this day should be observed. Yes, like most holidays we have 
a whole host of diverse symbols, and Thanksgiving is no different. And like most modern 
holidays, their real meanings are now nearly-hopelessly obscured by the massive commercialism. 
Nevertheless, despite the tide that is against us, we can always choose to do something different. 
Holidays are our holy days where we ought to take the time to reflect upon the deeper meanings. 
By so doing, we are not necessarily “saving” the holiday, but we are saving ourselves. As we 
work to discover the original history and meanings of each holiday, we wake up our minds and 
discover a neglected world hidden in plain sight. 


Would you love to be 
greeted at the door when 
you come home? After all, 
he's been waiting for you! 
He'll follow you around 
until you give him the 
attention and petting 
that make him absolutely 

blissful! Wilbur is young, very playful and loves toys. 
He also loves food! And . . . there's not a friend or 
family member of yours he won't like, because he's very 
friendly! He'll just need regular monitoring. Wilbur 
gets along with most cats. He may bop them at times, 
but it's in a playful way. Although Wilbur is FIV+, he 
doesn't need any meds--see video and pictures of Wilbur 
on our website’s “Young & Teen Cats” page. Wilbur 
will cur-rent on vaccines, vetted, flea-free, neutered, and microchipped. Please put in 
your application for Wilbur—it’s found on our web-site, 

Pet of the Week 

Bella is twelve years old and an absolute sweetie! She’s acalm dog who enjoys taking naps in our adoptions office,
so we can tell she would be a great work-from-homecompanion. Bella enjoys being brushed, giving lots ofkisses, and receiving ample ear and butt scratches. Bellawould do best in a quiet home where she can be near herfavorite people.

 The adoption fee for dogs is $150. All dog adoptionsinclude spay or neuter, microchip, and age-appropriatevaccines.

New adopters will receive a complimentary health-and-wellness exam from VCAAnimal Hospitals, as well as a goody bag filled with information about how to care for 
your pet.

 View photos of adoptable pets and schedule an adoption appointment Adoptions are by appointment only, and new adoptionappointments are available every Sunday and Wednesday at 10:00 a.m.

 Pets may not be available for adoption and cannot be held for potential adopters byphone calls or email. 



(Editor’s Note: While contemplating things that happened 10 yeares 
ago in the Mountain Views News, I decided to share with you what 
was on Rich Johnson’s mind ten years ago, so here is the reprint of 
his column from 12/3/2011) 

At a loss as to what to give that special someone? Well, in the 
spirit of “being a renaissance man” I will attempt to offer some 
last minute shopping suggestions. Perfect gifts for the guy or gal 

who has everything. 

A Camera For Your Pet! Ever wonder what your pet does while you are away at work 
or school? How about a camera that attaches to your pet’s collar. It has a timer you can 
set to snap photos authomatically at 1, 2, or 15-minute intervals. When you get home, 
remove the camera and plug it into the computer via the USB cable and discover what 
your pet has been up to. (I wonder if this works with children?) $39.95 at jcpenney. 

Cell Mate. Can’t afford a Bluetooth headset at $50-$100 bucks? The cell mate literally 
straps your cell phone to your head. It’s perfect in your car, exercising or just walking 
around. What’s more, you can use Cell Mate with cordless phones in the home. All 
this for about $15.00. 

Icarta. How have you ever lived this long without a toilet paper iPod dock complete 
with speakers. The fragrance of beautiful music to help make that toilet experience 
really special. 

A Piece of Wood to Knock On. Ever been stuck somewhere with an intense need 
to knock on wood…and there is no wood around to knock on? Now you can buy 
a piece of wood perfect for knocking on. Packaged in an attractive box its suitable 
for home, office or car. What’s more the piece of wood has “Knock on wood” in 12 
languages printed on it giving this gift international appeal. $10.50. Available at 

Personal Soundtrack T-Shirt. This shirt has a speaker built into right it. The speaker 
offers 20 stock sounds, like royal entrance or scary-movie music. You can also add 
your own sounds directly off your personal-music player. $39.95 at 

The Uro Club. How do I say this delicately? Men, picture yourself out on the golf 
course when nature calls and there are no restrooms in sight. Now you can stay right 
on the fairway with the Uro Club. Simply unscrew the cap on this dummy golf club. 
Attach the included privacy towel to your belt and discreetly relieve yourself of the 
situation. Screw the leak proof cap back on and you are back in the game. $24.95 at 

A Portrait of Your DNA. DNA, or deoxyribonoucleic acid is what makes you YOU! 
And now can replicate a few strands of your DNA, dye them, embed 
them in gel and apply an electric field. (What does that mean? Beats me.) Here’s how 
it works: The ThinkGeek folks send you a kit to swab a few cheek cells. Send your 
specimen back to the ThinkGeek Lab. They will do the rest sending you an 8” x 10” 
bolted-glass-framed portrait of yourself (from a DNA perspective) Only $169.99 and 
available at 

Be sure to give the gift of yourself this holiday season. I am thankful for all of you. 
Except for that one guy in the back. Yeah, you know who you are. : ) 

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