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The Pilgrims Were Really Grave Robbers

Ah, historical revisionism enlightenment by way of the Madison (WI) Capital Times:

Patty Loew: Thanksgiving traditions all based on myths

By Mike Ivey

Everything you know about the “first” Thanksgiving is wrong.

Plymouth Rock.



Big feast.

Happy Indians sharing in the bounty.

It’s all bunk, except maybe the part about eating turkey. Early settlers were so hungry they ate about anything with fur or feathers.

Otherwise, there is little connection between reality and the version of Thanksgiving events still taught in most schools.

That point was hammered home Sunday by award-winning filmmaker Patty Loew.

A member of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe, Loew was the keynote speaker at the third annual “Interfaith Thanksgiving Celebration” held at Lakeview Lutheran Church on Madison’s north side.

Loew said the problem with the traditional Thanksgiving story is that it plays to the American version of history where peace loving English settlers tame the wilderness and survive attacks from the bloodthirsty Indians.

“It’s the quintessential American holiday,” she said. “It involves escaping danger, surviving in a harsh environment, carving out a new life.”

Unfortunately, Loew says, the whole Thanksgiving story is nothing but myth.

In reality, the Indian tribes living along the Eastern seaboard had been decimated by disease in the years preceding the storied landing at Plymouth Rock in 1620.

An epidemic of bubonic plague, most likely brought to the New World by European fishermen in 1617, had killed an estimated 90 percent of the Native population by the time the Pilgrims landed in Massachusetts.

“What the settlers found were empty villages with crops still in the field because the Indians had either died or left,” Loew said, quoting a version of event laid out by author James Loewen http://www.trinicenter.com/his…..giving.htm.

The more religious of the settlers — only 32 of the 102 who landed at Plymouth were actually Pilgrims — thought the existing villages and cleared fields were a sign that God was providing for them.

Other settlers took to digging up the graves of Indians, picking through the housewares, blankets or weapons buried with the dead.

So the first Thanksgiving in America was actually held by grave robbers,” Loew told the crowd of more than 200.

Loew challenged the audience to tell the correct version of events and think about what it means when they celebrate this Thursday with family or friends.

“We’re not just talking about feel good history, but history that reflects the truth,” said Loew, a longtime local TV anchor who serves as associate professor of life sciences communications at UW-Madison

If the crops were still standing in the fields and they were robbing graves, why didn’t the Pilgrims get the bubonic plague?

What would we ever do without associate professors of life science like Ms. Loew and “authors” like Mr. Lowen?

For the record, here are some other titles from this “author”:

Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong, Revised and Updated Edition by James W. Loewen (Hardcover – April 1, 2008)

Lies Across America: What American Historic Sites Get Wrong by James W. Loewen (Paperback – Oct 16, 2007)

Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism by James W. Loewen (Paperback – Oct 3, 2006)

We Are the People: Voices from the Other Side of American History by Nathaniel May, Clint Willis, and James W. Loewen (Paperback – Oct 27, 2003)

The Mississippi Chinese : Between Black and White, Second Edition by James W. Loewen (Paperback – Jan 1988) 

Lies My Teacher Told Me About Christopher Columbus: What Your History Books Got Wrong by James W. Loewen (Paperback – Jun 19, 1992)

Lies Across America: What Our Historic Sites Get Wrong by James W. Loewen (Paperback – Nov 14, 2000)

Everything You’ve Been Taught is Wrong (Portable Professor) by James W. Loewen (Audio CD – 2005) – Unabridged

One begins to detect a pattern.

(Thanks to BillK for the heads up.)

This article was posted by Steve on Monday, November 24th, 2008. Comments are currently closed.

49 Responses to “The Pilgrims Were Really Grave Robbers”

  1. BillK says:

    Time to trash Thanksgiving.

    From the way-far-left Madison, WI Capital Times:

    Patty Loew: Thanksgiving traditions all based on myths

    By Mike Ivey

    Everything you know about the “first” Thanksgiving is wrong.

    Plymouth Rock.



    Big feast.

    Happy Indians sharing in the bounty.

    It’s all bunk, except maybe the part about eating turkey. Early settlers were so hungry they ate about anything with fur or feathers.

    Otherwise, there is little connection between reality and the version of Thanksgiving events still taught in most schools.

    That point was hammered home Sunday by award-winning filmmaker Patty Loew…


    Families will tell the truth this Thanksgiving – including how the Plymouth colony was an abject failure under a communal system and only prospered when land owners were allowed to keep all they grew and sell it themselves.

    That truth also won’t include this revisionist garbage of the “Hate Americans First” crowd that, unfortunately, is becoming what’s taught in schools.

    All brought to you by – who else – a University professor.

    Your tax dollars at work, naturally.

  2. JohnMG says:

    BillK; …..”Time to trash Thanksgiving……”

    My wife and I have been going to Montana for the past 13 summers doing volunteer work on the Blackfeet Reservation. Seldom, if ever, do we hear such garbage from the Indian population who, by the way, mostly prefer to be called “indian” rather than “native-American”. Having been adopted into the tribe after making many close friendships among the people, we hear the other side of the story from the “red” perspective. Readily admitted is the transgressions and prejudices perpetrated by parties on both sides of the issue.

    But as you have noted, the most biased and slanted perspectives will always be tendered by the “cultural elite”, most frequently academians and the media, or those with the means to influence a gullible public. One of my best friends among the Blackfeet is their tribal cultural historian, who says, both privately and publicly, that the only people insisting on being called ‘native Americans’ and taking offense at being called ‘indians’, are the “city indians” with an axe to grind. His wry comment is, he’s just glad Columbus wasn’t looking for the Virgin Islands or Turkey when he discovered the new world, otherwise we might be calling them something entirely different. In dialect, the Blackfeet refer to other ‘indians’ as “the people” and to themselves as “the REAL people.”

    Before someone jumps to any erroneus conclusions, this man is a highly educated, well-traveled, published author, lecturer, and producer of documentary films who lives a humble life both on and off the reservation. He’s also a Viet Nam veteran.

    I will accept his version of history in deference to that of a whole wagon-load of Patty Loews as being more genuine and untinged with a pre-conceived notion of victimhood.

  3. k012957 says:

    I’ve found Professor Lowen’s books to be interesting and fair. While he debunks much of the mythology of what is taught as history in grade school, he provides sources and opinions and labels them appropriately.

    His real target are the horrible textbooks that present only the “officially approved” history. One of glorious successes and manifest destiny. But, the textbooks present none of the arguments of historians, nor some of the less savory portions of history.

  4. pinandpuller says:

    How about praising the pilgrims for being the first in North America to recycle?

    I’m being cremated anyway-if I have anything to say about it. How long does a solar cremater take?

  5. Liberals Demise says:

    Boy O boy……whats next,hmmm? Santa isn’t real and the Easter Bunny is a myth? Obama is the Greatest Prez? When I die, the Hari Kreshnas can have all my possessions if they stay the hell out of the airports!!

  6. BelchSpeak says:

    What are Indians? I seem to recall a bunch of team mascots in College that had something to do with a savage race of technology fearing humans from long ago, but details are already fuzzy as memory fades. As they are already relegated to mythical creature status like Centaurs and pixies, next this author will try to tell us that Jamestown settlers were attacked by forest faerie folk in 1607.

  7. proreason says:

    I’m surprised she didn’t blame Aids on the Pilgrims.

  8. Colonel1961 says:

    As a person with Comanche blood, I’d like to take this time to castigate all you evil pale faces!

    OK, back to reality – so what? I mean, really, WTF? When are we going to stop all this BS? Yes, my Comanche ancestors were treated poorly by the white man, but holy cow – they were in the effing stone age when the Europeans arrived, for God’s sake. They hadn’t even ‘invented’ the wheel yet – sheesh!

    And, yes this is a strawman argument, but had the Europeans not arrived, are we to assume that the Indians (I abhor the term ‘Native Americans’) would be placidly enjoying the pastoral contiguous US in the same manner as 400 years ago? Rhetorical strawman, of course. (End of rant.)

  9. wardmama4 says:

    There is one side (winners) usually dressed up gaily and the other side (losers) usually dressed up in victimhoods and somewhere in the middle is the truth. Problem is that the one side isn’t simply a victor nor is the other side isn’t simply a victim – and in the context of history – every ‘group’ is on both sides at some point in their history.

  10. Steve says:

    Mr. Limbaugh is talking about this article as we speak.

  11. TickTock says:

    “…speaking to a crowd of 200..” about sums it up.

    Of course in the socialist mind anything White and Christian is pure evil and must be destroyed…

    The bible does a very good job of describing the times we now live in: …they will call good ‘evil’, and evil ‘good’.

  12. pinandpuller says:

    Is Obama going to cede back sovreignty of the Hawaiian Islands now that he doesn’t need to be a citizen?

  13. U NO HOO says:

    “How long does a solar cremater take?”

    HA HA HA…I’ll ask my daughter, she is a Funeral Director.

  14. crockett says:

    those evil pilgrims and there darn sailboats are at the root of global warming…

  15. crockett says:

    those evil pilgrims and that darn mayflower they sailed over on are at the root of global warming…

  16. U NO HOO says:

    Was there a Bush on the Mayflower?

  17. DEZ says:

    Yup, when ever I arrive in a place I have never been, look around and see crops and housing of any sort.
    I say look what the lord hath provided, and then start digging up graves.

    Its only natural, right?
    After all, the Indians had gold fillings in their teeth and were buried with cans of Campbell soup.

  18. sheehanjihad says:

    How in the hell would Patty Loew know? Was she there? Did she read the diaries of the local tribes? Another silver spoon liberal who decided that history was acted out to suit their fantasies brought on by that inane need for someone to force their own shame and guilt of being alive on the rest of us. Someone should show her the benefits of tomahawk therapy on her fat head.

    This Thanksgiving, I will give thanks that more people like her arent alive, and fervently wish that her relatives would have resided at Deerfield Mass during one of those seldom reported reverse discrimination massacres the Indians held on a regular basis.

    The only grave that has been robbed was the rotted corpse of her mind.

  19. dptaylor says:

    This claptrap is being taught in education schools, it was part of the masters of education at a SUNY school. Our teachers in NYS are making this debunking of history part of their curriculum. It is highly ironic that our intellectual elite in this country are truly anti-intellectual. As one commenter stated, there are winners and losers and it looks to me that these ignorant folk are the winners…….they have control of the education establishment.
    Ayn Rand was ahead of her time.

  20. 12 Gauge Rage says:

    It seems like every year we hear this ‘shame on our forefather’s behavior’ nonsense from the left. Were all of the pilgrims coming to the new world to worship God without persecution? No, of course not. Human nature being what it is, I’m sure there were a few undesirables and shameless opportunists within the midst. But it was better than be singled out and harassed by the mother country for not following the party line of the official state church. As far as the pilgrim’s wrong treatment of the Native Americans, I wish we could get it through people’s thick skulls that the new world was not at peace and harmony until the arrival of the ‘evil white man’. Like everywhere else in the world the natives waged war against each other, looked disparagingly down upon those not of their own tribe, formed political alliances, fought over territory, and yes, even practiced slavery.

  21. bobbys says:

    however it did not take long for the Indians to learn not to take rides home with Teddy.

  22. Historian says:

    The Left, especially in academia, the media and hollywood continually bombard us with messages of how “Bad” our culture is, how harmful we have been to other cultures and how we are responsible for most environmental problems (e.g. global warming). Our children hear this stuff from their teachers, from the media, and from television celebrities. In most cases no one says anything in America’s defense. That someone in academia portrays the Pilgrims as grave robbers should surprise no one. If this is the “Change” we heard about that is coming to America, i.e. a radical change of our culture, we risk becoming weakened and losing our identity as Americans.

  23. GuppyNblue says:

    Our Pilgrim ancestors dealt with all the hardships it took to settle this land. They had to deal with cold, hunger and death while the average lefty gets upset if Starbucks runs out of cream. So now that this country provides us with what we need and all the comforts the world has to offer, this puke has the nerve to criticize those that made the sacrifices. On top of that she would have us feel guilt, hate and anger towards our own country. I don’t care what the scenario – good people don’t promote those darker things ( and in a Lutheran Church!).

    These kind of people are truly this country’s worst enemies. They will do nothing to defend it and everything to destroy it. I can’t see it any other way.

    I can’t remember the name of it but I saw a Paul Newman movie once in which a lady is calling some Indians savages for resorting to eating dogs. Newman says something to the effect of, when you’re starving you might think different. I’m thinking she was a liberal.

  24. Consilience says:

    dptaylor: your analysis is spot on! The claims of anti-intellectualism on the right (directed primarily at Gov Palin) are truly more applicable to the doctrinaire leftist/Marxists making up most of the elite of the democratic party. These folks have one prayer book (which has been proven wrong every time tried) they persist in using despite incontrovertible evidence their solutions fail and hurt the very people the claim to care about. That my friends is one definition of stupidity; decidedly anti-intellectual!
    Keep the faith!!

  25. VMAN says:

    As I was taught the pilgrims got off the boat and walked to the Indians and said HI. To which the Indians said HOW and the Pilgrims replied I don’t know HOW? So the Indians showed them HOW and the rest is history.

  26. 12 Gauge Rage says:

    This upcoming Thanksgiving is the first one I’ve had off in over five and a half years. I work retail now and I’ll be glad not to be working very early in the morning for Black Friday when I see my fellow Americans behaving in the most vulgar uncivilized manner as they fight over merchandise. Nope, I’ll be celebrating a day of feasting and good hearted revelry with my family and relatives. And I’ll be thankful for every moment of it. The event will be even more special because my niece whose in the army will be home for the holidays from her tour of duty in Iraq. God bless our brave men and women serving our country. One more thing, what are you willing to bet that the lefties criticizing our pilgrim ancestors are doing so with a mouthful of turkey and stuffing? Hypocrites!

  27. Lipstick on a PIAPS says:

    GuppyNBlue the movie was called “Hondo” and it was a great film. Anyway I thought that it was University people who often raided the graves of natives peoples for “artifacts” for study. It’s called Archeology I think and it’s a course of study offered in every liberal university in the country. Even the booty or “artifacts” are on display for public viewing I believe. ;-) Have a nice Thanksgiving everybody! Hope the Redskins gets’ some scalps on National Television that day!

  28. pinandpuller says:

    Hey U KNO WHO-

    When a funeral is done does the director yell “CUT”!?

    Just wondering.

  29. brad says:

    I think it is important for historical accuracy, even if it is from an obviously biased half-indian witch like Loew, who has an axe to grind.

    Let’s be accurate about liberal sacred cows:

    The less intelligent indians did NOT cross the Atlantic to expand their world and knowledge. Instead, like the Iroquois, they decided to sit around and EAT EACH OTHER. So, the so-called noble environmentalists did nothing but plot to kill other tribal members and consume them. Thank God the Europeans came!

    Or how about Martin Luther King cheating on his wife, was an obvious communist, and was in bed with the communist north vietnamese?

    What about PLANNED PARENTHOOD, whose founder wanted an institution to exterminate black people? Oops! forgot about that one eh?

    Or the truth about communism/marxism/fascism/hitler’s socialism—-all branches from the same tree. Not to mention Mao and Stalin’s even worse massacre of their own people.

    The settlers in early America were certainly much better people, than the people who were already here. We celebrate the Christian time-honored traditions until this day, and if Patty Loew wanted historical accuracy, —the indian way— we would all simulate plotting against the neighboring tribe, cutting them to ribbons, then eating their remains.

    That b*tch has the nerve to live in a western cultured society, make lots of money, then bash that culture’s traditions—go live on the reservation you coward!

  30. GuppyNblue says:

    Lipstick on a PIAPS
    Thanks and a happy Thanksgiving to you.

  31. Tblanc69 says:

    Odd, I am Cherokee and do not recall this version. Here’s a drag that begs to scream intervention:
    If the indians(yes we ARE that) didn’t believe in white people as being equals(which we didn’t),
    then how could we call them grave robbers? That term wasn’t in our vocabulary then. Hmm,
    it is now though, huh? Here’s another rant I must shout out: Logically, if the graves were robbed
    as you so eloquently put it, I miss the part where you explain WHAT TRIBE buries items with
    it’s people??? Hmmm, robbed of what? We used fur for warmth, not status. We didn’t cherish
    spices as the euros did. Our weapons were meek compared to the euros at the time, so exactly
    what was robbed? I say again, if what WE(Indians) held as valuable the euros did not(they did not),

    This “reporter?” is aware the first historical visit from white people to the Americas(USA) that came
    across Indians, were the Vikings, right?

    Patty, who in history(Euros or Vikings) were known for pillaging, razing etc…?

    Leif Ericson(Norse: Leifr Eriksson), wrote in his journal that the fiercest band of warriors that the
    “Vikings” had ever came across were the “Indians” of “North America.” He went on to state
    that they were the ONLY other people in the world that he respected, BECAUSE of their
    “Viking nature(savage), animalistic fighting prowess and their never surrender attitudes!”

    Hmm, apparently Patty the Liberal didn’t do her research. BTW, I do not recall euros ever
    carving fetuses out of Indian women and hanging them up as souvenirs…Indians did. I am
    shamed by a lot of what both sides of my heritage did, but that is the worst. Next time,
    have a little care to actually INVESTIGATE your crap before shoving it down our throats.

  32. pinandpuller says:


    Planned Parenthood can sponsor Fetus Souvenir day at the next Indians game! Free to the first 4,000 NAG’s.

  33. crosspatch says:

    There are some serious problems with this person’s thesis. First of all, Europeans had been on the East coast of the US for about 100 years before the Pilgrims arrived. Juan Ponce de Leon founded St. Augustine, Florida in 1513. Ponce de Leon so mistreated the natives that the Spanish removed him as Governor of Puerto Rico before he went to Florida. I suspect one had to be particularly terrible for the Spanish to remove them. 100 years would have been plenty of time for plague to work its way up the East coast but measles and malaria would have been more likely to spread than plague which would have killed off the settlers in addition to the natives. Plague is spread by fleas. Fleas will bite a native the same as a settler. Settlers had no more or less immunity to plague than the natives did. Natives would have some tolerance to measles. Measles would be a regular “childhood disease” for the settlers but it would have killed practically every native that contracted it.

    If anyone has seen a copy of this person’s book, I would love to see the references and/or research notes.

    But what is most important, we have learned a history that has been passed down for a long time. There is a fair amount of documentation and records produced by the settlers. Why am I to believe this person’s conclusion over the historical account unless I am simply “spring loaded” to believe anything negative concerning early explorers and the conventional history. This seems like it would appeal to people who already want to believe stories like this and from what I have heard so far, he doesn’t seem to offer any convincing evidence.

    For example, if a band of settlers were freezing to death, had no sheep or cotton from which to make blankets, I suppose it wouldn’t be too far fetched to believe they might dig up graves if they knew it was a burial custom of the local inhabitants to bury their dead with blankets. But on the other hand, if the locals were all dead when they arrived, they would have no idea that there were blankets there. The author seems to take certain bits of documented record (a kernel of truth), expand on that without any basis, and ignore the rest of the documentation that is counter to his claims. Besides, ever try digging in the ground in Massachusetts in the middle of winter? It’s frozen solid. Or it would have been in the 1600’s … during the Little Ice Age.

  34. pinandpuller says:

    Is that why they burned witches-to stay warm? We can’t look down on them using our contemporary mores-its just not cricket!

    I just watched a movie this weekend called “The New World” with Christian Bale and Colin Farrel. I enjoyed it although I am not certain how accurate it was. The gal who played Pocahontos was a freaking babe though!

  35. imnewatthis says:

    When I was growing up I would sometimes (while reading) see someone referred to as a “self-hating Jew” or a “self-hating homosexual”. I never see this anymore. For several years, now, I’ve been thinking the country is full of self-hating Americans. This is what the schools teach our kids to be. And that doesn’t bode well for our survival. We feel guilty so we want to give away our treasure and our sovereignty.

  36. 11ten1775 says:

    Her version is basically what’s in elementary social studies books – minus the grave robbing. The Pilgrims were selfishly looking for riches. How “hard” it all was is emphasized ad nauseam (without any meaningful discussion of how that hard work paid off – in freedom). Powhatan was a peaceful chief. Pocahontas saved John Smith from something that goes unmentioned. (Surely not violence!) John Smith came up with the idea that, “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.” God can’t even get credit for the Bible, let alone His providence for the Pilgrims. As Coulter says, the liberals have to tear down everything, so all that’s left is the government for us to believe in.

  37. Historian says:

    imnewatthis, I couldn’t agree with you more. The negative messages our children are presented with through the education system, universities, and media amounts to a coordinated brainwashing of the youth on a large scale. Most leaders try to preserve their national culture, not tear it down. However in the United States we want to “Change” our culture. The result if this is not stopped is eventual loss of our national identity and our sovereignty as a free nation.

  38. proreason says:


    November 25th, 2008 at 7:32 am
    imnewatthis, I couldn’t agree with you more. The negative messages our children are presented with through the education system, universities”

    The Far Left took over the universities, and with that base, the schools and the media.

    That is the underlying reason they were able to capture the congress and the presidency.

    And it is going to be nearly impossible to undo.

    For example, have you tried to bring a young “environmentalist” back to reality? When children learn something when they are very young, and it is reinforced (one might say hammered in) by the media, facts and rationality have almost no impact.

    That has been their long-march strategy. It worked.

  39. Historian says:

    November 25th, 2008 at 10:38 am

    ‘The Far Left took over the universities, and with that base, the schools and the media.
    That is the underlying reason they were able to capture the congress and the presidency.
    And it is going to be nearly impossible to undo.
    For example, have you tried to bring a young “environmentalist” back to reality? When children learn something when they are very young, and it is reinforced (one might say hammered in) by the media, facts and rationality have almost no impact.
    That has been their long-march strategy. It worked.”

    It will be almost impossible to reverse trends, given the fact that those who oppose the “Change” and destruction of American values now being promoted comprise a minority in this country. In addition, we will continue to lose this battle as brainwashed students keep entering the workforce. The ideological war has already been lost. I predict that in years to come, there will be an exodus of Americans from the United States as socialism spreads. You may find yourself starting over in another country, assuming you can find work, as a virtual refugee. I do not think this will take too many years in coming, based upon the government bailouts we are seeing.

  40. Historian says:


    November 25th, 2008 at 12:31 pm
    The hits just keep coming…


    With the continual bombardment of negative attacks on our culture, children will believe what they are told. If everyone they hear says we are “Bad” and have committed atrocities against the world, caused global warming. etc., they will believe. Everyone can’t be wrong can they? This is how you destroy a civilization, but no one learns from history. Anyone see any similarities to our situation and that of the Romans before the fall of their empire?

  41. Colonel1961 says:

    Not to paraphrase Jesus Christ Superstar too much, but mass communication in those times was very poor, i.e., I am comforted that people will grow up and be exposed to other points of view, as we do on this site, and learn…

    As I’ve noted before, I tell my children to question the motive of every single speaker/writer/teacher/book that they ever encounter – including me – and to discern the truth vis-à-vis their own good judgment.

    p.s. I always wanted ‘judgment’ to have another ‘e’ in it…

  42. Richard Romano says:

    “Yup, when ever I arrive in a place I have never been, look around and see crops and housing of any sort. I say look what the lord hath provided, and then start digging up graves.”

    This made me smile :) The leftist mantras are so easily demolished by referring to simple logic.

  43. TheSwabbie says:

    I think Mike Ivey is FOS. Funny how it JUST so happens that these fishermen arrive on the eastern seaboard and give the Native Americans (Of which I AM one) the Plague or some disease. The Indians plant their crops then DIE just before its suppose to be harvested. AND… wait.. it gets better.. the Pilgrims go and dig up these poor Indians and steal stuff out of their graves WITHOUT being affected by whatever disease wiped out the indians.

    Mr. Ivey is no better than the people who actually try to convince others that the Holocaust did not happen – even when presented with overwhelming evidence, traincars full of eyeglasses… they try to rewrite history. Mr. Ivey has stepped on his privates…

  44. DEZ says:

    “This made me smile :)”

    Then I made a persons day better!

  45. Lipstick on a PIAPS says:

    I’m confused, are we talking woo, woo, woo, heap scalp em Indians, or the Red dotted forehead convenience store Indians?

  46. pinandpuller says:

    Ask Hillary or Joe Biden lol.

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