In the Spirit of Metacom
"Since 1970, Indigenous people & their allies have gathered at noon on Cole's Hill in Plymouth, Massachusetts to commemorate a National Day of Mourning on the US' Thanksgiving holiday. Many Native people do not celebrate the arrival of the Pilgrims & other European settlers. Thanksgiving Day is a reminder of the genocide of millions of Native people, the theft of Native lands and the erasure of Native cultures. Participants in National Day of Mourning honor Indigenous ancestors and Native resilience. It is a day of remembrance and spiritual connection, as well as a protest against the racism and oppression that Indigenous people continue to experience worldwide". -- United American Indians of New England
The National Day of Mourning is an annual demonstration, held on the fourth Thursday in November, that aims to educate the public about Native Americans in the United States, notably the Wampanoag and other tribes of the Eastern United States; dispel myths surrounding the Thanksgiving story in the United States; and raise awareness toward historical and ongoing struggles facing Native American tribes. The first National Day of Mourning demonstration was held in 1970 after Frank "Wamsutta" James's speaking invitation was rescinded from a Massachusetts Thanksgiving Day celebration commemorating the 350th anniversary of the landing of the Mayflower. James instead delivered his speech on Cole's Hill in Plymouth, Massachusetts next to a statue of Ousamequin, where he described Native American perspectives on the Thanksgiving celebrations. The gathering became an annual event organized by the United American Indians of New England (UAINE) .
Over 2000+ people participated in this event on November 24th, 2022. It is my first time attending this event, and I am grateful I was able to be there with several friends and Boston Mayday Coalition comrades. It was a beautiful gathering of people from all over the country, even several from Canada, Mexico & more. I was deeply moved by the entire event.
‘No Thanks, No Giving.'
“Native people have no reason to celebrate the arrival of the Pilgrims. We want to educate people about the true origins of the first Thanksgiving, which were far bloodier than the ‘Pilgrims and Indians’ story in the Thanksgiving myth,” UAINE youth organizer Kisha James, who is Aquinnah Wampanoag and Oglala Lakota and the granddaughter of Wamsutta Frank James, the founder of National Day of Mourning, said in a media release.
Ms James added, “The first official day of ‘thanksgiving’ was declared in Massachusetts in 1637 by Puritan Governor Winthrop to celebrate the massacre of over 700 Pequot men, women and children on the banks of the Mystic River in Connecticut. Wampanoag and other Indigenous people have certainly not lived happily ever after since the arrival of the Pilgrims. To us, Thanksgiving is a Day of Mourning, because we remember the millions of our ancestors who were murdered by the Pilgrims and subsequent generations of settlers. Today, we and many Indigenous people around the country say, ‘No Thanks, No Giving.'
More than 400 years after the arrival of the Mayflower, Indigenous people are still denied basic human rights. Change is long past due. We are still facing many of the issues that our elders talked about in 1970 at the first National Day of Mourning. We call on non-Native people to listen to Indigenous voices, especially about how to address the climate crisis, and to join us in trying to stop the continued destruction of our homelands and waterways by greedy corporations. Native lands must be returned to our control in order to ensure a future for all of life on earth.” she continued.
UAINE co-leader Mahtowin Munro said , “Participants in National Day of Mourning this year will speak about many things. One focus will be the current efforts to gut the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)in a Supreme Court case backed by energy companies and fundamentalists. They are viciously attacking Indigenous sovereignty and our Native nations in an effort to steal more Indigenous land and return to the days of thousands of Indigenous children being taken away from their homes and tribal communities.
“We will mourn and honor the thousands of Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, Two-Spirit (#MMIWG2S) and other Indigenous Relatives. We will join the thousands demanding the identification and return of the remains of thousands of Indigenous children from the residential schools and boarding schools that were sponsored by Canada and the US in order to “kill the Indian” in the children and destroy Indigenous communities. From Chile to British Columbia, from Boston to the Amazon, Indigenous peoples are defending their sovereignty and insisting that nothing should happen on their lands without their freely given consent. Indigenous solidarity and resistance are international. We stand in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en who have been attacked by the RCMP for trying to stop a destructive Coastal Gaslink pipeline, and with all the Indigenous nations opposing pipelines, mines and megadams. And we demand the return of all of our ancestors – skeletons, skulls, hair, burial and sacred items – that continue to be held by institutions around the country, from Harvard to Berkeley.”
As for Massachusetts, Munro says, “The state legislature needs to pass our bills to ban the use of Native American mascots, protect sacred Native American heritage, include Native curriculum in the public schools, celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day instead of Columbus Day, and improve educational outcomes for Indigenous students. We call on those elected officials to do the right thing.”
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