Stephen F. Austin State University

The original Thanksgiving (November 2012)

The original Thanksgiving
By Vina Lee

The Library of Congress says the first Thanksgiving (timeline) in the U.S. was in May of 1541 in Palo Duro Canyon in the Texas panhandle. Explorers led by Spanish Francisco Vasquez de Coronado participated in a Thanksgiving celebration after marching north from Mexico City in search of gold. Through out history, days of thanks giving have been observed after rain, harvest and winter seasons. On March 2, 1842, Texas Independence Day, Sam Houston made it a day of celebration of freedom and thanksgiving.

Actually, Native Americans probably introduced their tradition to the Pilgrams from Europe, embracing their new friends. Almost every Native American tribe has one or more annual celebrations of Thanksgiving, or "Feast Day" celebration, which is often held more than once a year.

"The first Americans saturated the land with a spirit of thanksgiving. In the words of Sister Joseph Hobday, Texan and Native American spiritual leader, "20,000 to 30,000 years of prayer and thanksgiving have come down to Americans in the soil of Texas and breathing through the trees." (Thanksgiving Miracles and Myths)

"Our National Day of Thanksgiving history unfolded in the Lone Star State. Sam Houston, president of the Texas Republic, faced threats of war, financial problems and political turmoil. But, he proclaimed a thanksgiving "to render evidence of national blessings ... and a profound belief in an Almighty God." Houston noted that "the Texan people have been the objects of the peculiar care ... of a Divine Providence" so they could "occupy a place among the independent governments of the earth." Texas may be the only state to have two thanksgiving days set aside, one in spring for its independence and the customary national Thanksgiving in autumn." In 1848, soon after Texas became a state, Governor Wood established the first State Thanksgiving, thus Texas became the first state in the South to call for a day of Thanksgiving. In 2000, the historian Bill O'Neal of Carthage, Texas, published The First Thanksgiving: It Happened in Texas.