Indigenous People Push Back Against US ‘Thanksgiving Mythology’

ANGLO AMERICA, 28 Nov 2022

Jessica Corbett | Common Dreams - TRANSCEND Media Service

“We will not stop telling the truth about the Thanksgiving story and what happened to our ancestors,” says Kisha James, whose grandfather founded the National Day of Mourning in 1970.

“Many of the conditions that prevailed in Indian Country in 1970 still prevail today,” Kisha James said in Plymouth, Massachusetts on November 24, 2022, pointing to life expectancy, suicide, and infant mortality rates—along with the rising death rate for Native women.
(Photo: screenshot/hate5six/YouTube)

24 Nov 2022 – 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.”

“It has continued for all these years as a powerful demonstration of Indigenous unity and of the unity of all people who speak truth to power.”

“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.”

“When people celebrate the myth of Thanksgiving, they are not only erasing our genocide but also celebrating it. We did not simply fade into the background as the Thanksgiving myth says. We have survived and flourished. We have persevered,” she declared.

“That first Day of Mourning in 1970 was a powerful demonstration of Native unity,” she said, “and it has continued for all these years as a powerful demonstration of Indigenous unity and of the unity of all people who speak truth to power.”

James noted that “many of the conditions that prevailed in Indian Country in 1970 still prevail today,” pointing to life expectancy, suicide, and infant mortality rates—along with the rising death rate for Native women—and taking aim at racism and “the oppression of a capitalist system which forces people to make a bitter choice between heating and eating.”

“And we will continue to gather on this hill until we are free from the oppressive system; until corporations and the U.S. military stop polluting the Earth; until we dismantle the brutal apparatus of mass incarceration,” James vowed.

“We will not stop,” she said, “until the oppression of our LGBTQ siblings is a thing of the past; until unhoused people have homes; until human beings are no longer locked in cages at the U.S. border despite the fact that no one is illegal on stolen land; until Palestine is free; until no person goes hungry or is left to die because they have little or no access to quality healthcare; until insulin is free; until union-busting is a thing of the past; until then, the struggle will continue.”

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Jessica Corbett is a staff writer for Common Dreams.


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