It is the 4th Thursday in November (Native American Heritage Month), in the height (so far) of Covid deaths in 2020, today cresting 270,000 . This is the day all non-Native Americans learn to be “Thanksgiving”, the one “American holiday”. During any year, there is much to dismantle about the myths of this day. During this year of Racial Reckoning and Covid-19 showing us where every weak, mean and outdated thread in the tapestry of the “American dream”. What needs to change is being revealed. On this day in this challenging year, the threads are almost at the breaking point. Let us all dismantle Thanksgiving Myths on Day of Mourning during this year of Covid-19. Let us be done with it!
The old stories, beliefs and tales told to and by us growing up, (us refers to all who do not identify as Native American, ancestrally indigenous to this land within the borders of the US) in school and in our families, are mostly false, fake news, a hoax, concocted over time to soothe the guilty conscious of the settlers from Europe. (One article telling a few stories). I know that talking like that hurts the heart of most Americans, but healing hurts. Acknowledging the truths is an important part of healing.
As I acknowledge this National Day of Mourning, questions arise. If the Europeans who decimated the Native Peoples of this land with sickness and genocide were “pilgrims” why did they never return to their homes? Doesn’t pilgrimage require a return to be complete? Why did the most intolerant people “the puritans” claim they were fleeing religious persecution? These are the people who were the witch burners, and they burned and killed many European and “Indian” “witches/heathens/demon worshippers” since arriving on this land. Much to think and pray about today, in a winter of pandemic, consciously being spread in this moment by the descendants of the takers who insist on “celebrating” this day of taking.
Mr James, who is highlighted in this video, is an organizer of the National Day of Mourning. He is the son of WAMSUTTA JAMES, Aquinnah Wampanoag elder and Native American activist, who started the Day of Mourning after his speech (linked) was suppressed in 1970. Read it here. http://www.uaine.org/suppressed_speech.htm Today was the 50th Day of Mourning , and 400 years since the first Thanksgiving, as the myth tells the story. As of today, the CDC states that Indigenous People are almost 4 times more likely to contract and suffer from Covid-19.
Eating with loved ones is wonderful. Feeling, offering and sharing gratitude is essential. And…for those who are gathering for a meal with loved ones today, during this year of racial reckoning and disproportionate Covid sickness and death of Indigenous People right now, please… humbly speak the names of the Indigenous People’s land on which you gather. Not sure? Look it up. Please, learn the truth underneath the myth of this day, and the history of this country taught in school. The very painful truth is right here, everywhere, to be acknowledged. It cannot be avoided or suppressed any longer. This year of Covid is demanding us to see, and act on, the truth.
I write this from the traditional lands of the Tohono O’odham in what is now called Arizona. I offer these words to be helpful in the dismantling of system racism and white supremacy. I am learning. To attend circles, sessions or trainings with me, find out more here.