Indian Day of Mourning

It’s no wonder that your average American Indian man on the street usually seems a bit guarded if not downright depressed. Indians in Palm Springs, California and the surrounding desert communities generally choose not to mix with Caucasians and usually keep to themselves. Indians don’t celebrate the “Thanksgiving” Day holiday with the rest of the country and you can’t really blame the Indians for this. Indians instead gather for a national Day of Mourning while the rest of the country is eating turkey dinner.

Do American Indians celebrate Thanksgiving?
Condensed From: Smithsonian Voices
November 26th, 2016, 9:00PM / BY Dennis Zotigh
What really happened at the first Thanksgiving in 1621? The Pilgrims did not introduce the concept of thanksgiving; the New England tribes already had autumn harvest feasts of thanksgiving. To the original people of this continent, each day is a day of thanksgiving to the Creator.  In the fall of 1621, William Bradford, the governor of the Plymouth Colony, decided to have a Plymouth harvest feast of thanksgiving and invited Massasoit, the Grand Sachem of the Wampanoag Federation, to join the Pilgrims. Massasoit came with approximately 90 warriors and brought food to add to the feast, including venison, lobster, fish, wild fowl, clams, oysters, eel, corn, squash and maple syrup. Massasoit and the ninety warriors stayed in Plymouth for three days. These original Thanksgiving foods are far different from the meals prepared in modern Thanksgiving celebrations . . .

. . . Squanto died in 1622, but Massasoit outlived the era of relative peace in colonial New England. On May 26, 1637, near the present-day Mystic River in Connecticut, while their warriors were away, an estimated 400 to 700 Pequot women, children, and old men were massacred and burned by combined forces of the Plymouth, Massachusetts Bay, and Saybrook (Connecticut) colonies and Narragansett and Mohegan allies. Colonial authorities found justification to kill most of the Pequot men and enslave the captured women and their children. Pequot slaves were sent to Bermuda and the West Indies. In 1975 the official number of Pequot people living in Connecticut was 21. Similar declines in Native population took place throughout New England as an estimated three hundred thousand Indians died by violence, and even more were displaced, in New England over the next few decades.

Looking at this history raises a question: Why should Native peoples celebrate Thanksgiving? Many Natives particularly in the New England area remember this attempted genocide as a factual part of their history and are reminded each year during the modern Thanksgiving.

The United American Indians of New England meet each year at Plymouth Rock on Cole’s Hill for a Day of Mourning. They gather at the feet of a statue of Grand Sachem Massasoit of the Wampanoag to remember and reflect in the hope that America will never forget.

Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/blogs/national-museum-american-indian/2016/11/27/do-american-indians-celebrate-thanksgiving/#kDXr56UESklZQ6xY.99

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