Texas claim on Thanksgiving

Patricia Burroughs has the story — you New Englanders are way, way behind.

Palo Duro Canyon in a winter inversion

Palo Duro Canyon during inversion, Winter 2001, site of the first Thanksgiving celebration in what would become the United States, in 1541. Go here: www.visitamarillotx.com/Gallery/index3.html, and here: www.tpwd.state.tx.us/park/paloduro/

Update, 11/27/2006:  Great post here, “Top 10 Myths About Thanksgiving.”

10 Responses to Texas claim on Thanksgiving

  1. […] Original from 2006: “Texas claim on Thanksgiving” (Patricia Burroughs, are you still defending Texas’s claim to the first Thanksgiving? […]


  2. […] Original from 2006: “Texas claim on Thanksgiving” (Patricia Burroughs, are you still defending Texas’s claim to the first Thanksgiving? […]


  3. […] Original from 2006:  “Texas claim on Thanksgiving” (Patricia Burroughs, are you still defending Texas’s claim to the first Thanksgiving? […]


  4. Black Friday Sale…

    I always say shopping is cheaper than a psychiatrist. -Tammy Faye Bakker :o) Happy Holidays!…


  5. […] Here’s the main reprise post, text below (there were some good comments last year); Margaritas and nachos do sound good, don’t they? ___________________________ Patricia Burroughs has the story — you New Englanders are way, way behind. […]


  6. Tom Hearndon says:

    “The Cherokees were probably more civilized than the white crackers that had them deported to take over their land.”

    Not in the least. The Cherokee were vicious savages well practiced in torture and other foul arts. Though many shed tears over the Indians, they were merciless and without pity for their own much less their enemies. Those “crackers” you refer to simply kicked their asses.


  7. bernarda says:

    This particular case wasn’t the first. George Washington ordered the destruction of the Iroquois, many who had been his allies.

    Andrew Jackson ordered the deportation of the Cherokee in Georgia–you may have heard of “The Trail of Tears”–many who had been his allies. The Cherokees were probably more civilized than the white crackers that had them deported to take over their land.

    Gee, I wonder if there is a pattern here?


  8. Ed Darrell says:

    “belonged to the J. A. Ranch?” By land grant or sale, I suppose, though there would be no transfer from any Native American group in the chain of title. Here’s a map from the Casteneda Collection at the University of Texas at Austin which shows some of the grants in the mid-19th century: http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/atlas_texas/texas_land_grants.jpg . There is a better map somewhere, but I can’t find it on the internet right now and I don’t remember which atlas I have it in.

    By 1874, the land of Palo Duro Canyon had been granted first by the Spanish Crown to settlers in New Spain, and then by independent Mexico after 1821, and by the Republic of Texas after 1836 and the State of Texas after 1845. Much of that land was granted out to the soldiers of the Texas revolution, but also much of it was held rather consistently since the original Spanish land grants earlier. (My experience is that one still finds short chains of title for lands in west Texas, and sometimes the deeds still list the distances in “varas,” which is an old Spanish measure that confuses ill-trained surveyors and other Yankees.)

    While a few tribes traversed over the area prior to 1519, it was not much inhabited by Native Americans until after the Comanche and Cherokee and others migrated or were driven off of their ancestral (?) lands farther east and north, generally after 1750. (Some estimates put the total human population of Texas at less than 12,000 in 1519.)

    I was smoking barbs at the Anglo-centric historians who forget about Southwest America. It’s a different discussion, but an important one, about how Anglos and Hispanics got title to lands in the Americas. It’s one that might attract a lot of attention from the Free Republic nuts who tend to defend the rights of colonists to steal whatever land they can, but I’ll bet most rational people agree with you that there is much in the events that was no honorable.

    Sometime I’d like to sit down with Peruvian economist Hernando DeSoto and ask him about titles to lands that were originally used jointly and severally, sometimes by several different tribes. I suspect he would say such uses were historical, and it’s time to move on.

    But then, yesterday in London, Queen Elizabeth II met with a group of Mohegans, who presented her with a letter their ancestors had tried to deliver to the Crown in 1735, protesting the taking of their lands in what is now Connecticut. (Here’s a link to the news story in “Connecticut The Day”: http://www.theday.com/re.aspx?re=9545f5d5-de94-4d6c-a2c6-c0bc41f6e623 )
    I’ll wager no action is taken.


  9. bernarda says:

    “In 1874, Palo Duro Canyon was a battle site during the Red River Wars. Col. Mackenzie, under orders from the US Government, apprehended the Native Americans residing in the canyon by first capturing 1,400 horses and then later destroying the majority of the herd. Unable to escape, the Native Americans surrendered and were transported to reservations in Oklahoma. Then, from 1876 until 1890, most of the canyon belonged to the J.A. Ranch and was operated by Col. Charles Goodnight.”

    How did the canyon become to be “belonged to the J.A. Ranch”? It seems that the real “owners” were the Native Americans who were deported. Just how did this canyon become white property? In a microcosm, this illustrates the American concept of “property rights”.


  10. DavidD says:

    Yeah, and the Vikings discovered America. But then what happened?

    My understanding of Thanksgiving began in my mind from my parents. It gained substance from school and the media. Whatever thanks to God there was that didn’t fit this Thanksgiving I know is about something else entirely. At some point it was a major milestone for me to learn how Abraham Lincoln formalized the tradition, not just any tradition, but the one I knew from childhood. At further points it was interesting for me to read how different Thanksgiving was in the 1620’s:

    Not everything was different, as anyone can read. But Texas in 1541? That was not what Mr. Lincoln had in mind. It is irrelevant to the turkey currently thawing in my refrigerator and the pumpkin and pecan pies. The latter is because my wife was born in Alabama. Many things do contribute to any particular experience, but it’s silly to pretend that everything does.

    Thanking God in general, a thanksgiving ritual, is very different from the Thanksgiving feast and related celebrations that occur in the US on the fourth Thursday of November. Texas in 1541 had nothing at all to do with that. Why not be precise about such things?


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