Thanksgiving in Summit County: Remembering Its History

Posted by: admin November 26th, 2014

Ute IndiansI was recently perusing the Town of Frisco’s website and came across an interesting article that outlined the detailed history of the town. With the Thanksgiving holiday on my mind this week, I was instantly intrigued by the fact that the nomadic Ute Indians entered Vail Pass from the west in 4800 B.C., and settled the land we now know as Frisco. The Ute Indians occupied Summit County for hundreds of years before any mention of the “white man” until the “mountain men” fur trappers arrived in the area in 1810. Considering that Native Americans were an instrumental part in shaping this country (and Summit County in particular), I thought it relevant to broach this subject as you consider your Thanksgiving plans in the high country.

While today’s Thanksgiving celebrations would likely be unrecognizable to attendees of the original 1621 harvest meal, it continues to be a day for Americans to come together around the table – albeit with some updates to the Pilgrim’s menu. This original feast lasted three days (and even included a turkey [fowl]), and was attended by 90 Native Americans and 53 illegal immigrants (also know as Pilgrims).

The First ThanksgivingThe very first Thanksgiving was to celebrate a treaty between the Pilgrims and the Indians, but this day does not mean the same thing that it did to the white settlers in American History. To the Indians, Thanksgiving would mean an entirely different thing. This was the beginning of the end of their way of life– a time where they had given up their land in return for gifts that were full of disease, which would kill many of them later on down the road. But, conversely, the white settlers would see this as a friendship being started, knowing that without the help of the Native Americans, they never would have survived. It was (and still is) a time of celebrating with family and friends and being thankful that they were still around to do it.

When sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner at the Frisco Lodge, or anywhere else for that matter, take some time to reflect on the historical significance of the Native Americans and their contribution to the Thanksgiving holiday. We are taught at a very early age the Pilgrims’ point of view, but let’s remember the sacrifices on both sides, and more importantly the fact that you are living/visiting an area that owes an awful lot to the Indian people.

So, when celebrating Thanksgiving in the high country this holiday season, let’s not forget about how instrumental the Native Americans were in shaping this national holiday – especially to those of us living and visiting Summit County.