A National Day of Mourning

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While for many today is a day of Thanksgiving and celebration (and eating too much turkey and watching televised sports), there are others who see this time as a time for mourning.

Since 1970, indigenous American activists have gathered on Coles Hill in Plymouth to draw attention to the ongoing discrimination, revisionist history, and inequities visited towards Native peoples in America. On this day I offer some indigenous (and indigenous-friendly) voices in the news. Consider it a counter-balance of sorts to the consumerist status-quo.

“It’s been said that the winners get to write history. Not that Mashpee Wampanoag consider themselves losers. They don’t – especially now that the tribe is on the cusp of being granted federal recognition…Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council Chairman Glenn Marshall said that while he has plans to have a “regular” Thanksgiving meal with his family, he can’t help but feel torn about the holiday. “I have a meal with my family like everybody else, but it’s still a day of mourning for me. I compare it to 9/11 – an attack on a way of life and a loss of innocence. That’s how Wampanoags felt,” said the Vietnam War combat veteran.”Sean Gonslaves, Cape Cod Times

“While millions of Americans sit down to turkey dinners or watch the big football game, nearly 1,000 American Indians will gather in Plymouth for their National Day of Mourning…”We want people to know the truth about Thanksgiving,” James said. “Plymouth Rock is nothing more than a monument to racism and genocide.” But James said he’s not “anti-Thanksgiving.” “I think people should give thanks 365 days a year,” he said. “This is also a day of celebration for us. We remember our ancestors. We celebrate the fact that we’re still around.” The Day of Mourning is scheduled to begin at noon Thursday at the statue of Massasoit on Cole’s Hill, Plymouth.”Gerry Tuoti, The Taunton Gazette

“When we dare to stand up for our rights, we are considered unreasonable. When we speak the truth about the history of the European invasion, we are often told to “go back where we came from.” But we came from right here, our roots are here. They do not extend across any ocean.”Moonanum James and Mahtowin Munro, Z Magazine

“History does matter, which is why people in power put so much energy into controlling it. The United States is hardly the only society that has created such mythology. While some historians in Great Britain continue to talk about the benefits that the empire brought to India, political movements in India want to make the mythology of Hindutva into historical fact. Abuses of history go on in the former empire and the former colony. History can be one of the many ways we create and impose hierarchy, or it can be part of a process of liberation. The truth won’t set us free, but the telling of truth at least opens the possibility of freedom. As Americans sit down on Thanksgiving Day to gorge themselves on the bounty of empire, many will worry about the expansive effects of overeating on their waistlines. We would be better to think about the constricting effects on the day’s mythology on our minds.”Robert Jensen, Austin American-Statesman

“Traditional people dedicate their harvest to the gods or their people. Each has a different thing: ‘I’m thanking the creator,’ and ‘Appreciate what you have and spread your wealth, rather than hoarding and selling everything.’ In tribal beliefs, it’s almost a socialist type of society. No one is richer or poorer than anyone else.”Sundust Teocuauhtli Martinez, New American Media

I hope all of you enjoy a day of both reflection and thanksgiving.