Thanksgiving Revisited

November 23, 2012

Many Native Americans aren’t very enthusiastic about Thanksgiving. Can’t blame them. Like Columbus Day, many of us in the United States continue to celebrate a very skewed version of American History. Native Americans have vastly different stories to tell.

It seems to me that as a nation, as states and as local communities, we should follow the path already laid out in Plymouth, Massachusetts in cooperation with the United American Indians of New England. They have erected plaques telling the sad but very real stories of Native American interaction with the original European settlers of the northeast United States. Multiple thousands of similar incidents happened over the centuries in this country and we would do well to make them known in very public and permanent ways.

Here are the plaques. I won’t editorialize on them except to say that the historic facts as stated are not in dispute.

Cole’s Hill, Plymouth MA (Near the statue of Massasoit)

The exact text:

“Since 1970, Native Americans have gathered at noon on Cole’s Hill in Plymouth to commemorate a National Day of Mourning on the US Thanksgiving holiday. Many Native Americans do not celebrate the arrival of the Pilgrims and other European settlers. To them, Thanksgiving Day is a reminder of the genocide of millions of their people, the theft of their lands, and the relentless assault on their culture. Participants in a National Day of Mourning honor Native ancestors and the struggles of Native peoples to survive today. It is a day of remembrance and spiritual connection as well as a protest of the racism and oppression which Native Americans continue to experience.”

Erected by the town of Plymouth on behalf of the United American Indians of New England.

Plaque Commemorating Native American Metacomet (King Phillip) in Plymouth’s Post Office Square

 “After the Pilgrims’ arrival, Native Americans in New England grew increasingly frustrated with the English settlers’ abuse and treachery. Metacomet (King Philip), a son of the Wampanoag sachem known as the Massasoit (Ousameqin), called upon all Native people to unite to defend their homelands against encroachment. The resulting “King Philip’s War” lasted from 1675-1676. Metacomet was murdered in Rhode Island in August 1676, and his body was mutilated. His head was impaled on a pike and was displayed near this site for more than 20 years. One hand was sent to Boston, the other to England. Metacomet’s wife and son, along with the families of many of the Native American combatants, were sold into slavery in the West Indies by the English victors.”

United American Indians of New England.

If you care to see the agreement between the town of Plymouth and the United American Indians of New England, click here.

If you would like to connect with the United American Indians of New England, click here.




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