“The state legislature needs to pass our bills … We call on those elected officials to do the right thing.”
For this year’s 53rd National Day of Mourning in Plymouth, “participants will gather by the statue of Massasoit on Cole’s Hill above the Plymouth waterfront” on Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022 at noon.
As United American Indians of New England (UAINE) explains, “Since 1970, hundreds of Native people and non-Native allies have gathered annually in Plymouth on US Thanksgiving Day.”
This year’s event will also be livestreamed.
“Native people have no reason to celebrate the arrival of the Pilgrims. We want to educate people about the true origins of the first Thanksgiving, which were far bloodier than the ‘Pilgrims and Indians’ story in the Thanksgiving myth,” UAINE youth organizer Kisha James, who is Aquinnah Wampanoag and Oglala Lakota and the granddaughter of Wamsutta Frank James, the founder of National Day of Mourning, said in a media release.
James added, “The first official day of ‘thanksgiving’ was declared in Massachusetts in 1637 by Puritan Governor Winthrop to celebrate the massacre of over 700 Pequot men, women and children on the banks of the Mystic River in Connecticut. Wampanoag and other Indigenous people have certainly not lived happily ever after since the arrival of the Pilgrims. To us, Thanksgiving is a Day of Mourning, because we remember the millions of our ancestors who were murdered by the Pilgrims and subsequent generations of settlers. Today, we and many Indigenous people around the country say, ‘No Thanks, No Giving.’”
James also noted the contemporary issues facing Native people, in Massachusetts and beyond: “More than 400 years after the arrival of the Mayflower, Indigenous people are still denied basic human rights. Change is long past due. We are still facing many of the issues that our elders talked about in 1970 at the first National Day of Mourning. We call on non-Native people to listen to Indigenous voices, especially about how to address the climate crisis, and to join us in trying to stop the continued destruction of our homelands and waterways by greedy corporations. Native lands must be returned to our control in order to ensure a future for all of life on earth.”
UAINE co-leader Mahtowin Munro added, “Participants in National Day of Mourning this year will speak about many things. One focus will be the current efforts to gut the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)in a Supreme Court case backed by energy companies and fundamentalists. They are viciously attacking Indigenous sovereignty and our Native nations in an effort to steal more Indigenous land and return to the days of thousands of Indigenous children being taken away from their homes and tribal communities.
“We will mourn and honor the thousands of Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, Two-Spirit (#MMIWG2S) and other Indigenous Relatives. We will join the thousands demanding the identification and return of the remains of thousands of Indigenous children from the residential schools and boarding schools that were sponsored by Canada and the US in order to “kill the Indian” in the children and destroy Indigenous communities. From Chile to British Columbia, from Boston to the Amazon, Indigenous peoples are defending their sovereignty and insisting that nothing should happen on their lands without their freely given consent. Indigenous solidarity and resistance are international. We stand in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en who have been attacked by the RCMP for trying to stop a destructive Coastal Gaslink pipeline, and with all the Indigenous nations opposing pipelines, mines and megadams. And we demand the return of all of our ancestors – skeletons, skulls, hair, burial and sacred items – that continue to be held by institutions around the country, from Harvard to Berkeley.”
As for Mass specifically, Munro continued, “The state legislature needs to pass our bills to ban the use of Native American mascots, protect sacred Native American heritage, include Native curriculum in the public schools, celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day instead of Columbus Day, and improve educational outcomes for Indigenous students. We call on those elected officials to do the right thing.”