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Thanksgiving

Carrying On Tradition Of National Day Of Mourning

Once again on so-called “Thanksgiving Day,” United American Indians of New England and our supporters are gathered on this hill to observe a National Day of Mourning for the Indigenous people murdered by settler colonialism and imperialism, from Turtle Island to Palestine. Today marks the 54th time we have gathered here to mourn our ancestors, tear down settler mythologies, and speak truth to power. The National Day of Mourning came into existence 53 “Thanksgivings” ago when my grandfather, an Aquinnah Wampanoag man named Wamsutta Frank James, was invited by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to speak at a banquet celebrating the 350th anniversary of the arrival of the Pilgrims.

Activists Disrupt Thanksgiving Parade: End Genocide, Don’t Celebrate It

Today, pro-Palestine protestors disrupted Thanksgiving Day Parades in New York City and Detroit, all sending the same message: end genocide, don’t celebrate it. In Detroit, protestors marched in front of the Thanksgiving Day parade route carrying banners reading: “From Turtle Island to Palestine, genocide is a crime” and “Detroit stands with Gaza,” giving a spotlight to Palestine during Israel’s ongoing atrocities. In Manhattan, protestors disrupted the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, an annual corporate parade watched nationwide, with signs and banners reading “Genocide then, genocide now.” 

This Thanksgiving, Consider The Wellbeing Of Family Farmers

On Thanksgiving, families across America are gathering around tables to enjoy the season’s bounty. Yet, behind the scenes, a complex web of challenges threatens the agricultural foundation of this tradition. The recent one-year extension of the 2018 Farm Bill by Congress has brought temporary relief, but the call for a new, comprehensive five-year farm bill echoes loudly. Wisconsin Farmers Union is raising its voice, emphasizing the urgent need to address issues plaguing family farmers and the agricultural sector as a whole. Gratitude for the bipartisan support in extending the 2018 Farm Bill is tempered by a pressing reality: the long-term stability of family farmers still hinges on a new, five-year farm bill.

Should America Keep Celebrating Thanksgiving?

I am a proud member of the Oglala Lakota Nation, born on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. My early memories of Thanksgiving are akin to those of most Americans—meat-and-potatoes dishes inspired by Eurocentric 1960s-era cookbooks. For many Americans, the image of Thanksgiving is one of supposed unity: the gathering of “Pilgrims and Indians” in a harmonious feast. But this version obscures the harsh truth, one steeped in colonialism, violence, and misrepresentation. By exploring the Indigenous perspective on Thanksgiving, we can not only discern some of the nuances of decolonization but gain a deeper understanding of American history.

Unthanksgiving Day: A Celebration Of Indigenous Resistance To Colonialism

Each year on the fourth Thursday of November, when many people start to take stock of the marathon day of cooking ahead, Indigenous people from diverse tribes and nations gather at sunrise in San Francisco Bay. Their gathering is meant to mark a different occasion – the Indigenous People’s Thanksgiving Sunrise Ceremony, an annual celebration that spotlights 500 years of Native resistance to colonialism in what was dubbed the “New World.” Held on the traditional lands of the Ohlone people, the gathering is a call for remembrance and for future action for Indigenous people and their allies.

Indigenous People Push Back Against US ‘Thanksgiving Mythology’

The United American Indians of New England and allies gathered at noon Thursday at Cole's Hill in Plymouth, Massachusetts for the 53rd National Day of Mourning—an annual tradition that serves as "a day of remembrance and spiritual connection, as well as a protest against the racism and oppression that Indigenous people continue to experience worldwide." "We don't have any issues with people sitting down with their family and giving thanks," Kisha James—who is an enrolled member of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) and is also Oglala Lakota—told BBC. "What we do object to is the Thanksgiving mythology." In a Thursday speech, James—whose grandfather founded the National Day of Mourning in 1970—challenged the lies of "mythmakers" and history books, instead highlighting "genocide, the theft of our lands, the destruction of our traditional ways of life, slavery, starvation, and never-ending oppression."

Decolonizing Thanksgiving And Supporting Indigenous Peoples

This week, as some people in the United States celebrated the mythical 'Thanksgiving' dinner, Indigenous Peoples held a National Day of Mourning and continued their resistance to defend the land and water. As Native American, Matt Remle, writes: "Despite colonial efforts to exterminate, terminate, relocate, and assimilate Indigenous populations, Native communities continue to resist efforts to both desecrate Unci Maka and strip Native peoples of their languages, spirituality and communities." Settler colonialism continues to this day in the United States and around the world as do resistance efforts to reclaim what has been lost, including land, access to sacred sites, clean water, culture and sovereignty. Remle makes the point that non-Indigenous people benefit from this resistance. Around the world, Indigenous people are leading the way to end exploitation and build a better future for all of us.

African And Indigenous Peoples: An Alliance For Defense, Survival And Revolution

Yet again a holiday for mass delusion about “Pilgrims and Indians” looms. It is a day when practically nobody seated around tables piled high with big dead birds and assorted platters of carbohydrates gives even a passing thought to Massachusetts Bay Colony Governor John Winthrop’s 1637 journal entry calling for “…a day of thanksgiving kept in all the churches for our victories against the Pequots.” Plymouth Colony Governor William Bradford provided a detailed account of the so-called victories over an estimated 700 members of an indigenous community: “Those that scraped the fire were [slain] with the sword; some hewed to [pieces], others [run] [through] with their rapiers, so as they were quickly [dispatched], and very few [escaped]…It was a fearful sight to see them thus frying in the [fire], and the streams of blood quenching the same, and horrible was the [stink] and [scent] thereof, but the victory seemed a [sweet] sacrifice...

How To Participate In The 53rd National Day Of Mourning

According to 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, “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. 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.

53rd National Day Of Mourning Indigenous Pride, Power And Protest

What are the United States’ foundational myths? Who created them, and who do they erase and harm? For the past 52 years, United American Indians of New England (UAINE) and supporters have gathered on so-called Thanksgiving Day in Plymouth, Massachusetts, to ask these questions, confront settler mythologies and commemorate a National Day of Mourning for the Indigenous people murdered by settler colonialism and imperialism worldwide. The National Day of Mourning protest was founded by Wamsutta Frank James, an Aquinnah Wampanoag tribal member. In 1970, Wamsutta had been invited by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to give a speech at a banquet commemorating the 350th anniversary of the arrival of the Pilgrims.

Book Review: ‘No More American Thanksgivings’ And Other Essays

Of the traditional US holidays, Thanksgiving was by far my favorite. I can do without the excessive commercialization of Xmas with its cheesy music that broadcasts for weeks on end. Cancel the forced festiveness of New Years and the sloppy drunks it generates; ditto for the militarism of July 4th.  So, what’s not good about coming together with friends and family and sharing a home cooked feast? I don’t want to ruin the party, but before you carve up the turkey, read the opening essay in Glen Ford’s The Black Agenda. His critique of the holiday is that the mythology surrounding Thanksgiving serves as a justification for our nation’s founding genocide of its native peoples and a validation of white supremacy.

After 400 Years, It’s Time To Take Down The Monumental Insult

I am sending a gift, a box of “Indian corn,” to the Wall Street Journal editorial board as a reminder of what really happened in colonial North America and is commemorated by the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday. On this 400th anniversary of what we believe to be the first Thanksgiving, the Wall Street Journal is poised to print its insulting Pilgrim Journal version of early colonial history for the 60th time. Not only is the account suffused with the racist sentiment, but it is also factually incorrect to a grotesque degree. The newspaper is impugning its own credibility and not just its core values. In 2020, I wrote to the Wall Street Journal imploring them to retire the editorial and was ignored. This year I organized a Change.org petition to remove the offending commentary.

On Pardoning Turkeys

The White House on Friday revealed the names of the recipients of two pardons President Biden plans to issue—Peanut Butter and Jelly. The pardons are, of course, for two Thanksgiving turkeys, part of a stupid annual tradition where the president saves two turkeys from the Thanksgiving table. The tradition began in 1863, when Abraham Lincoln pardoned a turkey, an act that apparently wasn’t even reported in the media until 1865. By the early 20th century, it was common practice to give friends and family members live poultry as an early Christmas gift and to have them “pardon” the turkey or chicken as part of a “poultryless Thursday,” according to the White House Historical Society. How quaint.

My Grandfather Founded The National Day Of Mourning

On Thursday, millions of families across the United States will celebrate Thanksgiving without giving much thought to the truth behind the heavily mythologized and sanitized story taught in schools and promulgated by institutions. According to this myth, 400 years ago, the Pilgrims were warmly welcomed by the “Indians,” and the two groups came together in friendship to break bread. The “Indians” taught the Pilgrims how to live in the “New World,” setting the stage for the eventual establishment of a great land of liberty and opportunity.

Six Thanksgiving Myths And The Wampanoag Side Of The Story

In 1621, though Pilgrims celebrated a feast, it was not repeated in the years to follow. In 1636, a murdered white man was found in his boat and the Pequot were blamed. In retaliation, settlers burned Pequot villages. Additionally, English Major John Mason rallied his troops to further burn Pequot wigwams and then attacked and killed hundreds more men, women and children. According to Mason’s reports of the massacre, “We must burn them! Such a dreadful terror let the Almighty fall upon their spirits that they would flee from us and run into the very flames. Thus did the Lord judge the heathen, filling the place with dead bodies.” The Governor of Plymouth William Bradford wrote: “Those that escaped the fire were slain with the sword; some hewed to pieces, others run through with their rapiers, so that they were quickly dispatched and very few escaped.
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