The myth of Thanksgiving

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To the Editor:

The current American struggle with white nationalism is not just a moment in time. It is the product of centuries of political, social, cultural, and economic developments that convinced a critical mass of white Christians that the country has always belonged to them and always should. The myth of Thanksgiving is one of the many buttresses of that ideology.

A National Day of Mourning plaque mounted on Cole’s Hill was erected by the town of Plymouth on behalf of the United American Indians of New England. It states: Since 1970, Native Americans have gathered at noon on Cole’s Hill in Plymouth to commemorate a National Day of Mourning on the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday. Many Native Americans do not celebrate the arrival of the Pilgrims and other European settlers. To them, Thanksgiving Day is a reminder of the genocide of the millions of their people, the theft of their lands, and the relentless assault on their culture. Participants in National Day of Mourning honor Native ancestors and the struggle of Native peoples to survive today. It is a day of remembrance and spiritual connections, as well as a protest of the racism and oppression which Native Americans continue to experience.”

A second plaque, in Post Office Square, is dedicated to Metacomet (King Philip), son of Ousamequin. It addresses how he “called on Native people to unite to defend their homelands against encroachment,” only to go down to defeat to the English, who killed him, mutilated his body, displayed his severed body parts, and sold his wife and son into slavery.

Thanksgiving and the anniversary of the Pilgrims’ landing should be times for introspection and reflection, rather than celebration.

The above was taken from “This Land Is Their Land” by David J. Silverman.

 

Peter Cabana
Vineyard Haven