38th National Day of Mourning
Thursday, November 22, 2007 @ 12 Noon
Join us as we dedicate the 38th National Day of Mourning to our
brother, Native prisoner of war Leonard Peltier.
Add your voice to the millions worldwide who demand his freedom. Help
us struggle to create a true awareness of Indigenous people and
For bus tickets from NYC: 212-633-6646
History of the National Day of Mourning:
In 1970, United American Indians of New England declared US
Thanksgiving Day a National Day of Mourning. This came about as a
result of the suppression of the truth. Wamsutta, an Aquinnah
Wampanoag man, had been asked to speak at a fancy Commonwealth of
Massachusetts banquet celebrating the 350th anniversary of the landing
of the Pilgrims.
He agreed. The organizers of the dinner, using as a pretext the need
to prepare a press release, asked for a copy of the speech he planned
to deliver. He agreed. Within days Wamsutta was told by a
representative of the Department of Commerce and Development that he
would not be allowed to give the speech. The reason given was due to
the fact that, "… the theme of the anniversary celebration is
brotherhood and anything inflammatory would have been out of place."
What they were really saying was that in this society, the truth is
out of place.
What was it about the speech that got those officials so upset?
Wamsutta used as a basis for his remarks one of their own history
books - a Pilgrim’s account of their first year on Indian land. The
book tells of the opening of my ancestor’s graves, taking our wheat
and bean supplies, and of the selling of my ancestors as slaves for
220 shillings each. Wamsutta was going to tell the truth, but the
truth was out of place.Here is the truth: The reason they talk about
the pilgrims and not an earlier English-speaking colony, Jamestown, is
that in Jamestown the circumstances were way too ugly to hold up as an
effective national myth.
For example, the white settlers in Jamestown turned to cannibalism to
survive. Not a very nice story to tell the kids in school. The
pilgrims did not find an empty land any more than Columbus
"discovered" anything. Every inch of this land is Indian land. The
pilgrims (who did not even call themselves pilgrims) did not come here
seeking religious freedom; they already had that in Holland. They came
here as part of a commercial venture.They introduced sexism, racism,
anti-lesbian and gay bigotry, jails, and the class system to these
shores. One of the very first things they did when they arrived on
Cape Cod - before they even made it to Plymouth - was to rob Wampanoag
graves at Corn Hill and steal as much of the Indians’ winter
provisions as they were able to carry.
They were no better than any other group of Europeans when it came to
their treatment of the Indigenous peoples here. And no, they did not
even land at that sacred shrine down the hill called Plymouth Rock, a
monument to racism and oppression which we are proud to say we buried
in 1995.The first official "Day of Thanksgiving" was proclaimed in
1637 by Governor Winthrop. He did so to celebrate the safe return of
men from Massachusetts who had gone to Mystic, Connecticut to
participate in the massacre of over 700 Pequot women, children, and
men.About the only true thing in the whole mythology is that these
pitiful European strangers would not have survived their first several
years in "New England" were it not for the aid of Wampanoag people.
What Native people got in return for this help was genocide, theft of
our lands, and never-ending repression.
But back in 1970, the organizers of the fancy state dinner told
Wamsutta he could not speak that truth. They would let him speak only
if he agreed to deliver a speech that they would provide. Wamsutta
refused to have words put into his mouth. Instead of speaking at the
dinner, he and many hundreds of other Native people and our supporters
from throughout the Americas gathered in Plymouth and observed the
first National Day of Mourning. United American Indians of New England
have returned to Plymouth every year since to demonstrate against the
Pilgrim mythology.On that first Day of Mourning back in 1970, Plymouth
Rock was buried not once, but twice. The Mayflower was boarded and the
Union Jack was torn from the mast and replaced with the flag that had
flown over liberated Alcatraz Island. The roots of National Day of
Mourning have always been firmly embedded in the soil of militant protest.
–Free All Political Prisoners!email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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