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Poster of the Week – National Day of Mourning

Updated: Feb 8, 2022

US history is rarely clear, never linear, and often mythologized. It only appears linear when protest and dissent are ignored. One of the many mythologized histories taught in school and reinforced by the corporate media is the first Thanksgiving.

In November 1970, on the 350th Anniversary of the landing of the Mayflower, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts held a commemorative Thanksgiving celebration, and invited Frank "Wamsutta" James, Wampanoag and President of the Federated Eastern Indian League, to speak at the event. The invitation was cancelled when his prepared speech was deemed “inappropriate.” James was told that

"...the theme of the anniversary celebration is brotherhood and

anything inflammatory would have been out of place."

—Representative for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, November 1970

On Thanksgiving Day 1970, James delivered his talk elsewhere in Plymouth, MA to nearly 500 Native Americans who came from throughout the county. This became the first National Day of Mourning and is annually attended by hundreds of Native peoples. James’ talk included:

"We forfeited our country. Our lands have fallen into the hands of the aggressor.

We have allowed the white man to keep us on our knees. What has happened

cannot be changed, but today we must work towards a more humane America,

a more Indian America, where men and nature once again are important;

where the Indian values of honor, truth, and brotherhood prevail.”

But myths are often preferred to historical reality, and as long as controversies continue, so do the battles for our hearts and minds. We need to learn our own history.


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