Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Be Thankful

I am deeply embarrassed. I consider myself to be kind and compassionate and open minded. I am receptive to other people, their cultures and beliefs, as well as their obstacles. So when my mother and I were talking about Thanksgiving this week, and she brought up the National Day of Mourning, I was shocked that I had never heard of it before now.

Maybe I shouldn't feel so bad, since it seems to be more prevalent on the East Coast, and she hadn't heard of it either until she moved east. It's not like I am surprised - I do consider the plight of the Native American every year when pilgrims and Indians in Thanksgiving decorations are displayed. But I felt compelled to share it with you, just in case you haven't heard of it either.

I don't know about you, but the US History classes I had in school were pretty much a fraud. Not that they didn't teach us some factual things, but they skim over so much of the shameful things in our country's past, especially the savage history of how the Europeans dealt with the natives here. It goes beyond bringing smallpox. This website not only gives you some history, it also discusses the emotion behind the National Day of Mourning. This especially resonated with me: "For many Native American Indians of present day, the traditional "Thanksgiving" holiday is not recognized as the Pilgrim/Indian day popularized in children’s history books; rather it is a day of sorrow and shame. Sorrow for the fallen lives of those who were lost so long ago, and shame for living in a country who honors people who used religion and self-righteousness to condone murder, treachery and slavery."

Sorry and shame. The sorrow I can certainly understand, but shame? How could they help what happened? Where would they go instead? It's so sad. There are many times I feel helpless and hopeless, but I can't even imagine how it must feel for a Native American in this country. In the 2003 recall election, one of the things I took offense to was Arnold Schwarzenegger's campaign promises saying that the Native Americans in our state should pay their fair share. WTF? We took the good land, and gave them crap land. They finally figure out a way to become financially independent, and already pay taxes, but now this idiot is going to use them as a scapegoat to promote himself. What a slap in the face that he was actually the one elected to Governor. And now look where we are. ::sigh::

If you want to read a more radical side, here is the speech given by Frank James (1923 - February 20, 2001), also known as Wampsutta by the Wampanoag people.

This by no means should take away from so many other cultures who have been oppressed in this country, including African Americans, Japanese, Mexican Americans, and many, many more. Nor should it really take away from what I feel Thanksgiving is all about - a day of appreciation for our good fortune. But in addition to a general giving of thanks, we should also be mourning those who have fallen. "The Native people died so that the colony could flourish. They need to be remembered, respected and mourned. With them - the Native forefathers - is a much better place to lay your fondness and your thanks."

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting this. I was not aware about the National Day of Mourning. :(


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