Thanksgiving is known as a traditional American holiday where families and friends come together in harmony, gratitude, and thankfulness in sharing love and the traditional foods Americans have come to love, all in reference to the historical feast between the Native Americans and the early settlers from Europe.
The holiday is so popular that it’s considered one of the heaviest travel days in the country, sending people from around the world to family and feasts of turkey, dressing and all the fixings. But did you know that many Native Americans call Thanksgiving a Day of mourning? And for many of the indigenous people of this land, celebrating the holiday is tantamount to celebrating American slavery, the Holocaust, the Atom Bomb, or any culture’s tragedy.
In a video posted by Al Jazeera, entitled “Thanksgiving ‘National Day of Mourning’ For Some,” Native American people march and protest in Plymouth, Massachusetts on Thanksgiving Day, chanting “Whose land? Our Land! What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!”
The author notes, “Thanksgiving is a National Day of Mourning for some. Native Americans of New England have been hosting an annual protest in Plymouth, Mass. since 1970. While there are several different stories describing the first Thanksgiving, according to the protestors, in 1637, Governor John Winthrop hosted the first Thanksgiving to celebrate the return of soldiers who had massacred 700 native people. The protests are intended to highlight the myth that Native Americans and pilgrims lived together peacefully.”
Kaitlyn Blackwolf, a supporter in the 2014 protest march, says the holiday isn’t celebrated by her people but mourned. “Thanksgiving is a Day of Mourning for us because it represents when the Pilgrims first settled here in New England, and they started their rein on tyranny and genocidal acts amongst the indigenous tribes. We tried to feed them and take care of them because Pilgrims wouldn’t have survived the winter without us. And they paid us back by savagely abusing us and murdering us and enslaving us, stealing our crops,” she said.
While Native American feel strongly about their mistreatment, one commentator justifies the Pilgrim’s cause, suggesting that without the European settlers, America would have never developed into a modern society. “It’s true that many of the American Indian people were treated horribly and land taken, but the Indian tribes of that time were no better to each other. Many of them were constantly at war. Would the American Indian people have advanced to the point they are today if the Europeans had not come to this land?” he says.
But some conscious-minded Americans feel they have a moral obligation to seek the understanding of a people who were once cultivators of this land. “They mourn the genocide of their people, the theft of their land and the assault on their culture. Not everyone is giving Thanks!!, National Day of Mourning Respect!” stated Keifus Mathews.
“Yes, thank you so much for reminding the nation the truths about this horrific holiday millions of Americans celebrate. November is national native pride month. Please honor my ancestors by taking your turkey money and donate to AIM or any tribal organization and stand against the pipeline or the ongoing oppression of tribalism,” stated Aradia M. Buckley.
This article isn’t intended to stop Thanksgiving holiday but to shed light on American history and recognize the victims and the descendants this holiday is named after. For them, it is not a happy Thanksgiving.
For more information, go to the link and view the video.