New England Indigenous groups observe Thanksgiving day of mourning in lieu of celebration – Boston University News Service – Boston, Massachusetts

Boston, Massachusetts 2020-11-26 11:00:00 –

By Saumya Rastogi
BU news service

Thanksgiving, which is celebrated annually to commemorate the feast between the Wampanoag and the British settlers, is called National Day of Mourning by many indigenous peoples.

Kisha James, president of the Native American Student Association at Wellesley College and a member of the Aquina Wampanoag tribe, has no problem celebrating Thanksgiving, but friends and family have a nice meal together. He said he was angry with being there. The myth behind the holidays.

“The myth is that pilgrims seeking religious freedom come into a new world and are welcomed by Wampanoag with their arms outstretched. They shared a monthly harvest meal,” said James. “Wampanoag disappeared into the background and everything was happy. The end.”

James, the chief youth organizer of the United American Indians in New England, said everything taught about Thanksgiving at school was a lie.

“Pilgrims were not called pilgrims. They were called separatists,” James said. “They didn’t seek religious freedom. They brought it back to the Netherlands.”

Maria John, director of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Program at UMass Boston, said many Americans grew up being taught a pleasant story of Thanksgiving at school.

“The general interpretation is that Native Americans were invited to a friendly feast with the settler population,” said John.

John said that this simple story of assessing the role of settlers and the foundations of their nation ignores the story of nations being built on indigenous lands.

“It’s a much more complex and awkward reality than reflected in this dominant and simplified version of Thanksgiving,” John said.

To complicate matters, John said historians were divided on what happened in 1621. One version describes how Native Americans weren’t invited to the celebration.

“According to one interpretation, they came to the English village only after hearing the gunshots as part of the harvest festival,” John said. “They came to investigate the shooting. It was at this point that they were invited to stay.”

John also said that President Lincoln declared a national holiday in the midst of the Civil War.

“This shows that the celebration took place at a moment when the country was struggling to unite, creating an ideal myth of people gathering,” she said. “But this idealized story ignores the long history of indigenous land violence and disposal.”

Offerings are in front of the Old State Capitol during the March 10th, 2020 Indigenous Day. Photo: Caitlin Faulds / BU News Service

As a result, many indigenous people do not consider Thanksgiving as a celebration. At each Thanksgiving, New England American Indians host a National Day of Mourning at Coles Hill in Plymouth.

James said this year’s event has virtual components.

“This time, the event will be live streamed,” James said. “This is different from a traditional Thanksgiving meal. It’s not just your family, but 1000-2000 people share the meal.”

James said he hopes that people can educate themselves about Thanksgiving’s history and make special efforts to help indigenous peoples as Thanksgiving approaches.

“One way people can help indigenous peoples during the next week is to reach out to those who are speaking anti-indigenous peoples, especially on social media,” James said.

James said he had observed many dark jokes prevailing on social media that could adversely affect indigenous peoples.

“There’s one along the line that this will be the deadliest Thanksgiving since the first Thanksgiving,” James said. “It’s a very difficult week for the indigenous people who have this kind of rhetoric around us.”

John said that what was needed was a systematic and structural change in the school curriculum.

“Teachers need more training to deal with complex history and are given more space in the curriculum to do so,” said John.

She added that Thanksgiving celebrations are directly related to the mental health problems of Native American children.

“Public schools have Thanksgiving pageants and songs with headdresses and costumes for my ancestors,” James said. “But it makes Native American children question their position in American society.”

New England Indigenous groups observe Thanksgiving day of mourning in lieu of celebration – Boston University News Service Source link New England Indigenous groups observe Thanksgiving day of mourning in lieu of celebration – Boston University News Service

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