Members of Native American tribes from round New England are gathering within the seaside city the place the Pilgrims settled — not to give thanks, however to mourn Indigenous individuals worldwide who’ve suffered centuries of racism and mistreatment.
Thursday’s solemn National Day of Mourning observance in downtown Plymouth, Massachusetts, will recall the illness and oppression they are saying European settlers introduced to North America.
“We Native people have no reason to celebrate the arrival of the Pilgrims,” mentioned Kisha James, a member of the Aquinnah Wampanoag and Oglala Lakota tribes and the granddaughter of Wamsutta Frank James, the occasion’s founder.
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“We want to educate people so that they understand the stories we all learned in school about the first Thanksgiving are nothing but lies. Wampanoag and other Indigenous people have certainly not lived happily ever after since the arrival of the Pilgrims,” James mentioned.
“To us, Thanksgiving is a day of mourning, because we remember the millions of our ancestors who were murdered by uninvited European colonists such as the Pilgrims. Today, we and many Indigenous people around the country say, ‘No Thanks, No Giving.’”
It’s the 52nd 12 months that the United American Indians of New England have organized the occasion on Thanksgiving Day. The custom started in 1970.
The story comes as a number of faculties’ pupil and alumni teams throughout the nation inspired college students to deal with Thanksgiving as a day of remembrance for Native Americans, with the George Washington University Student Association sending an e mail to college students Monday stating that “Thanksgiving day is a reminder of the genocide of millions of Native people.”
“Although we recognize the importance of giving thanks and spending time with family and friends, we must also recognize that Thanksgiving for many in our community is a day of mourning,” the e-mail acknowledged.
Joining the scholars from George Washington University have been the alumni associations of the University of Maryland, Florida Gulf Coast University, Washington State University, Hiram College in Ohio and California State University, Long Beach, who participated in an occasions asking whether or not Americans ought to “reconsider” the Thanksgiving vacation.
“Starting in 1970, many Americans, led by Indigenous protesters, believed that Thanksgiving should be rededicated as a National Day of Mourning to reflect the centuries-long displacement and persecution of Native Americans. The recent shift from Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day reflects a changing national mood,” the occasion description states. “Should Americans reconsider Thanksgiving when wrestling with our country’s complicated past?”
Indigenous individuals and their supporters gathered at midday in individual on Cole’s Hill, a windswept mound overlooking Plymouth Rock, a memorial to the colonists’ arrival. They can even livestream the occasion.
Participants beat drums, supplied prayers and condemned what organizers described as “the unjust system based on racism, settler colonialism, sexism, homophobia and the profit-driven destruction of the Earth” earlier than marching by downtown Plymouth’s historic district.
This 12 months, they highlighted the troubled legacy of federal boarding faculties that sought to assimilate Indigenous youth into White society within the U.S. in addition to in Canada, the place a whole lot of our bodies have been reportedly found on the grounds of former residential faculties for Indigenous kids.
Brian Moskwetah Weeden, chairman of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council, mentioned on Boston Public Radio earlier this week that Americans owe his tribe a debt of gratitude for serving to the Pilgrims survive their first brutal winter.
“People need to understand that you need to be thankful each and every day — that was how our ancestors thought and navigated this world,” Weeden mentioned. “Because we were thankful, we were willing to share … and we had good intentions and a good heart.”
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That wasn’t reciprocated over the long run, Weeden added.
“That’s why, 400 years later, we’re still sitting here fighting for what little bit of land that we still have, and trying to hold the commonwealth and the federal government accountable,” he mentioned.
“Because 400 years later, we don’t really have much to show for, or to be thankful for. So I think it’s important for everyone to be thankful for our ancestors who helped the Pilgrims survive, and kind of played an intricate role in the birth of this nation.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.