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The First Thanksgiving Palo Duro Canyon Style

Some Historians Believe Famed Explorer Francisco Coronado Held the First Thanksgiving in Palo Duro Canyon Long Before the Puritans
CANYON -- As Americans get ready to belly-up to the table to celebrate Thanksgiving, there's one big question you should ask yourself, which Thanksigiving?

    While most of us believe the tradition started in Massachusetts in the 1620's, some believe it happened much earlier and just down the road from here.

    There are many claims to the first Thanksgiving in North America but, the one at Palo Duro Canyon is allegedly the first.  Though there isn't a lot of evidence to back it up.

    You can find numerous articles about the first Thanksgiving at the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum (PPHM) in Canyon including the claim that the Spanish explorer Coronado was the first to hold one.

    The story goes like this:  In 1541, Coronado and his 1,500 men were led astray by their Pueblo guide into Palo Duro Canyon while in search for the seven cities of gold.

    When Coronado realized they were being duped, he and a group of men set off for Kansas in search of fortune.

    I was while he was gone that Catholic Fray Juan de Padillo led the remaining men in a Thanksgiving feast and service while the natives watched.

    Amarillo bishop Leroy Matthiesson commissioned a painting in 1991 marking the event.  It hangs in the research room of the PPHM.

    Unlike our traditional Thanksgiving feast of turkey, ham, stuffing and all the fixings, Coronado's men allegedly feasted on buffalo and deer.

    The library of congress lists the Coronado Thanksgiving as the first in North America but, according to the Texas Almanac, the first was held in El Paso in 1598, more than 50 years after the event allegedly held in Palo Duro Canyon.

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