Media Tip Sheet: GW Expert on the History of Thanksgiving

November 17, 2023

David J. Silverman

Thanksgiving is now less than one week away and many families across the country are busy checking off the final items on their to-do lists before hosting a Thanksgiving feast. While Thanksgiving can be a celebratory time for many, scholars and experts say it’s also important to reflect on the true history of the holiday.  

David J. Silverman, history professor at GW, specializes in Native American, Colonial American, and American racial history. His most recent book is This Land is Their Land: The Wampanoag Indians, Plymouth Colony, and the Troubled History of Thanksgiving, published by Bloomsbury in 2019. In this new book, Silverman deconstructs the facts around the Thanksgiving holiday. Working with Native American communities and scholars, his research sheds new light on the fraught history of the Wampanoag and their uneasy alliance with the Pilgrims. Silverman hopes his book sparks honest dialogue about America’s past.

“To me, a myth that treats American colonialism as a bloodless affair is more than bad history,” Silverman has said in a GW Today article. “It is hurtful to both modern native people and to Americans generally because it doesn't allow us to understand ourselves in a critical way.”

If you would like to speak with Prof. Silverman, please contact GW Media Relations Specialist Tayah Frye at [email protected].