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Put Turkey Tamales On Your Menu

As we prepare for Thanksgiving tomorrow, we thought it only appropriate to clear the historical record. If history is written by the victors, so are the myths. Anglos conquered the continent and brought their myth of the pilgrims and their first thanksgiving. But Texas was not founded by Anglos. It has a long and storied history of indigenous peoples, and the first Spanish explorers and settlers hundreds of years before Stephen Austin showed up.

So it should be no surprise that the first thanksgiving feast took place in The 134. According to the Texas Almanac, there are two main contenders. The earliest is for a feast held by Francisco Vázquez de Coronado in 1541 in the vicinity of Palo Duro or Blanco Canyon. It is not clear whether this was for the Feast of the Ascension or a true thanksgiving feast like we would think of it.

The candidate with the best claim is along the banks of the Rio Grande Del Norte. Juan de Oñate, celebrated this thanksgiving on April 30, 1598 somewhere close to modern El Paso County. He called for a feast of Thanksgiving for the survival of his expedition after their grueling 50 day march across the Chihuahuan Desert during which they ran out of food and water and the entire expedition was almost lost. The Rio Grande and Texas were the saviors of the expedition.

A member of the expedition wrote of the original celebration, "We built a great bonfire and roasted the meat and fish, and then all sat down to a repast the like of which we had never enjoyed before. . .We were happy that our trials were over; as happy as were the passengers in the Ark when they saw the dove returning with the olive branch in his beak, bringing tidings that the deluge had subsided."

Of course Thanksgiving did not become official in the U.S. until Abraham Lincoln's proclamation in 1863. The history of this Holiday is complicated, and multicultural which makes it truly American. So this year, have some Turkey Tamales to celebrate.

Wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving, and Feliz día de acción de gracias!

The 134 PAC Team

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