An Indian Civilizational Perspective

Why There is Nothing To Celebrate in Thanksgiving in 2016!

When Mayflower came to the American land, they anchored near Cape Cod and after a month they crossed the Massachusetts Bay and settled in a village in Plymouth.  They went through the winter here.  During Spring in March, they met an Abenaki Indian who talked to them in English.  Not only that, he brought another Native called Squanto (Pawtuxet tribe) who had been kidnapped and sold in Europe to return back.  He taught them to fish, to collect sap from maple trees and cultivate corn.  And helped create an alliance with Wampanoag tribe.  Then in November 1621, after Pilgrim’s first corn harvest, Governor William Bradford celebrated the first Thanksgiving feat.

Why There is Nothing To Celebrate in Thanksgiving in 2016! #DakotaAccessPipeline Click To Tweet

That is the popular story of Thanksgiving.  A lie – deceitful one at that – that has been propagated by those who committed a genocide to feel good about themselves somehow!

And now, the Real Story…

Now, what people often miss is that these Native Indians who were talking in English with the Pilgrims and working with them had themselves been slaves!  Who was the real Squanto?  That is an interesting story of how these settlers were in for only gain.

The story of “happy Pilgrims and friendly Indians” is not quite the truth.  So let us understand what was the REAL story of “Thanksgiving”.

For the start, let us go back to the origin of this story in 1614 (six years before the Mayflower visit).  In that year, Thomas Hunt – an Englishman – kidnapped Tisquantum from his village, Patuxet along with scores of others from the Wampanoag area and sold them to slavery in Spain.  Some say that people didn’t approve of slavery at that time, and Tisquantum escaped.  He somehow made his way back to American land in 1619 to what is now known as Massachusetts.

However during Tisquantum’s absence from his homeland, a French ship wreck near Cape Cod had brought a French sailor carrying an infectious disease to this area and most of the Native American population was wiped out.  So, when Tisquantum returned back to his village Patuxet, he was the ONLY living survivor of that place!

Since the Native Indians did not like Europeans coming and stealing their lands, the white men had a fight on their hands in most of the places.  However in Patuxet, they found the land cleared of all native people.

The Pilgrims called this mass decimation of Native Americans – a sad event – “God’s providence”!  The evil god had found a way to let them stay in this land.  Tisquantum’s (aka Squanto) village Patuxet came to be called Plymouth!

Paula Peters, a member of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe and an expert on Wampanoag history, says on her website: “The graveyard of [Tisquantum’s] people became Plymouth Colony.”

By this time 75 percent of the Wampanoag population had died due to the infectious disease brought by the Europeans.  Massasoit, a local Wampanoag leader – didn’t trust Tisquantum (Squanto) on his return from England and put him under house arrest until the Pilgrims showed up.  That is when Squanto suddenly showed up to meet and greet the Pilgrims in English!!   As Peters says:

“While it was by far not the first occasion of human trafficking conducted by European explorers to the new world, the capture of Squanto and his fellow tribesmen would forever alter the course of history for people on two continents.”

What I find rather disconcerting and disingenuous is that somehow the Americans go about their lives during Thanksgiving – celebrating and feasting – as if this is somehow a glorious tradition.  IT IS NOT!  It represents the worst that the mankind has had to offer.

Then of course there are some who argue that this happened in the past and why should the present generation Americans bear the burden of the folly of their forefathers?

Well, given the current events, it will be clear to anyone that those follies are happening EVEN NOW!

Violation of Native Americans in North Dakota in 2016

For last 7 months, the Sioux Nation in Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota have been fighting to save whatever little is let of their way of life and space.  They are protesting against the Dakota Access Pipeline!  Dakota Access Pipeline is a 1,172-mile, 30-inch diameter pipeline connecting Bakken and Three Forks production areas in North Dakota to Patoka, Illinois.  This pipeline travels through the ancestral lands and passes within half a mile of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s current reservation and will be located under their water reservoirs – the tribe’s drinking water supply!  One mistake and an oil spill will be a death knell to the tribe’s life and ways.

Worse, the tribe has not even been consulted credibly and their issues have not been factored into the whole plan.  The tribe has now filed a complaint agianst the US Army corps of Engineers in the Federal Court of Washington DC. saying that “Corps effectively wrote off the Tribe’s concerns and ignored the pipeline’s impacts to sacred sites and culturally important landscapes.”

Standing Rock says the Army Corps never included the tribe in the surveying process, that permitting was rushed, and, because Energy Transfer Partners relied on old surveys of the land, the pipeline has plowed through sacred ancient sites. The tribe has filed several lawsuits, but most significantly it sued the Army Corps, saying if crude leaked into the Missouri River it would poison their nation’s water source. A federal judge in Washington, D.C., halted construction, but in September the court ruled that Energy Transfer Partners could proceed. Almost immediately the U.S. Department of Justice and the Department of Interior intervened and ordered construction to pause. (source)

As hundreds of protestors – Native Americans and non-natives – agitate against the pipeline, they have been attacked with tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons in freezing temperatures!

300 protestors were injured in a 10 hour clash with the law enforcement where the protestors have been taken to hospital for “severe head and limb wounds, eye trauma, internal bleeding and hypothermia from being doused with water in 22-degree weather.

Friends, this is not 1621, it is 2016 that we are talking about!

Frank Sanchez (Yankton Sioux Tribe) calls it an “Act of War” and puts it the way it is:

“I’m a prisoner of war in my own land,” said Sanchez. “That’s the only way I can see it. We have the right to hunt, fish and gather, as we always did, but all the barbed wire fences and posts to ‘Keep out’ have to come down so we can continue living the way we’ve always lived.”

In this fight by the Native Americans – in a US where the elections were fought on illegal immigration by non-whites as a main election plank – it is rather sad to see almost NO coverage by Mainstream Media of the shameful law enforcement lockdown and gradual land grab to the complete detriment of the local Native tribes!

Sanchez’s story is symptomatic of the apathy of normal Americans to the perfidious history of their nation and how they have subjugated everyone to the good of only a few!

Sanchez, 61, is in Washington, D.C., this week lobbying the federal government on behalf of the Sioux tribes. He is a direct descendant of the man who signed the Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1851, in which the U.S. government ceded portions of five states to the Sioux and agreed to strict rules preventing outsiders from accessing Sioux territory. But Congress soon broke its end of the bargain by seizing the Black Hills of South Dakota in 1877, when gold was discovered there ? and the government’s land grabs have continued.

“This issue could have been settled years ago, but we don’t have the money for attorneys to represent us,” he said.

The ironic question that many are asking is – “Will the Native Americans Survive the Winters”?

Soon the snow will come to Standing Rock, as will Canadian winds that dip below zero degrees and carry freezing rain and sleet. The protesters have raised millions of dollars to fund their protest, and the tents and teepees they spent the summer in are giving way to bunkhouses built of two-by-fours and makeshift sheds with solar panel roofs. They’ve been chopping wood each day, preparing for a long winter.

As one can see, history of the non-indigenous Americans and the Natives has been repeating over the years and has not stopped even today – as the protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline suggest.

In this situation and time, to celebrate Thanksgiving is to show a remarkable sense of inhuman way of being!

Dr. Mario Garza of the Indigenous Cultures Institute puts so well  about the whole travesty of what Thanksgiving exemplifies in this very interesting interview by a Houston school kid who took his history lesson a bit too seriously for the liking of his own teacher and her Pastor husband.

The current Thanksgiving is a romanticized notion that attempts to portray the European invaders and Native people as friends.  While many Native tribes welcomed the Europeans when they initially arrived, this situation quickly deteriorated as the invaders began killing and displacing Native people.  By celebrating one small incident of which details have been distorted or misinterpreted, this nation is overlooking hundreds of years of death, rape, destruction, and ongoing colonization by European invaders.  Most Native people we know believe in giving thanks every single day; so for many of us, every day is a day of thanksgiving.

But What is Wrong in being thankful?

Sure.  But are you really thankful to everything and everyone that and who makes your existence possible?  Do you even understand what that state of being entails?  When you are selectively thankful then you are playing a game with yourself and the divinity.   To be thankful for everything in this existence takes a whole different way of being.  In that state, you don’t force yourself on the creation, you borrow your existence!

In that state of borrowing your existence, you say thanks to even the smallest act that anything and anyone does for your living and being.  From the smallest rock to the great tree.  Forget about being reckless with the nature, you would not cut up a turkey – another living creature – to feel good about your exaggerated self!

And, therein lies the utter hypocrisy of this deception that goes on in the name of being “nice and thankful”.  There is no thankfulness in killing and in grabbing others’ land and in ensuring that you and you alone dominate everything on this planet.

To move from this decadent level of being to the sweetness of a thankful being – is a complete process of transformation.  And, that, doesn’t happen in a day.  It takes many many lifetimes!!

 Featured Image Source: Flickr

 

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