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Indian Resistance and Thanksgiving Declarations
November 17, 2014 by Howard Zin
Excerpt from Zinn’s article

...On Thanksgiving Day 1970, at the annual celebration of the landing of the Pilgrims, the authorities decided to do something different: invite an Indian to make the celebratory speech. They found a Wampanoag Indian named Frank James and asked him to speak. But when they saw the speech he was about to deliver, they decided they did not want it. His speech , not heard at Plymouth, Massachusetts, on that occasion, said, in part (the whole speech is in Chronicles of American Indian Protest):

Frank James
I speak to you as a Man-a Wampanoag Man….It is with mixed emotions that I stand here to share my thoughts….The Pilgrims had hardly explored the shores of Cape Cod four days before they had robbed the graves of my ancestors, and stolen their corn, wheat, and beans….Our spirit refuses to die. Yesterday we walked the woodland paths and sandy trails. Today we must walk the macadam highways and roads. We are uniting. We’re standing not in our wigwams but in your concrete tent. We stand tall and proud and before too many moons pass we’ll right the wrongs we have allowed to happen to us….

Black Indians: A Hidden Heritage
By William Loren Katz.
 Black Indians: “The Color Line” about conscious efforts in early America to create divisions... The expanded and updated edition of Black Indians: A Hidden Heritage brings the Native American and African American alliance that for four centuries challenged conquest and slavery into the 21st century with additional research and documentary and photographic evidence....

Mumia Abu-Jamal said, “A remarkable book… Perhaps if kids were taught this history the mad dash of imperialism that marked much of the 20th century would not have occurred.” Black Child Magazine said it was “a classic” whose “many rare, antique engravings and photographs help prove the author’s leading points.”

Digest note: reactionary scientists promote standard US white supremacist north american history and fascist genetic neuroscience
Thanksgiving and the Slanderous Myth of the Savage Savage
Cross-Check https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/cross-check/thanksgiving-and-the-sl...
By John Horgan  November 24, 2014
...Thanksgiving, that quintessential American holiday, has me brooding again over slanderous scientific portrayals of Native Americans as bellicose brutes. Native Americans, accused of Hobbesian savagery by modern scientists, actually treated Europeans kindly in some early encounters. This painting shows the legendary Thanksgiving feast between Pilgrims and the Wampanoag, who helped the newcomers survive and were eventually driven from their land. Painting by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris of 1621 feast at Plymouth, courtesy Wiki Commons.

When I was in grade school, my classmates and I wore paper Indian headdresses and Pilgrim hats and reenacted the “first Thanksgiving,” in which supposedly friendly Native Americans joined Pilgrims for a fall feast of turkey, venison, squash and corn. This episode seemed to support the view—often (apparently erroneously)  attributed to the 18th-century philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau—of Native Americans and other pre-state people as peaceful, “noble savages.”

Many prominent scientists now deride depictions of pre-state people as peaceful....Yes, Native Americans waged war before Europeans showed up... But as I asserted in my book The End of War and on this site ...Hobbesians...replaced the myth of the noble savage with the myth of the savage savage.
In two momentous early encounters, Native Americans greeted Europeans with kindness and generosity. Here is how Christopher Columbus described the Arawak, tribal people living in the Bahamas when he landed there in 1492: “They…brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things, which they exchanged for the glass beads and hawks’ bells. They willingly traded everything they owned…. They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance…. With 50 men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.”

How that passage—in historian Howard Zinn's 1980 classic A People’s History of the United States—captures the whole sordid history of colonialism! Columbus was as good as his word. Within decades the Spaniards had slaughtered almost all the Arawaks and other natives of the New Indies and enslaved the few survivors. “The cruel policy initiated by Columbus and pursued by his successors resulted in complete genocide,” the historian Samuel Morison—who admired Columbus!–wrote...
A similar pattern unfolded in New England in the early 17th century. After the Pilgrims arrived in Plymouth in 1620 on the Mayflower, they almost starved to death. Members of a local tribe, the Wampanoag, helped the newcomers, showing them how to plant corn and other local foods. In the fall of 1621 the Pilgrims celebrated their first successful harvest with a three-day feast with the Wampanoag. The event my classmates and I reenacted in grade school really happened!

The friendliness of the Wampanoag was extraordinary, because they had recently been ravaged by diseases caught from previous European explorers. Europeans had also killed, kidnapped and enslaved Native Americans in the region. The Plymouth settlers, during their desperate first year, had even stolen grain and other goods from the Wampanoag, according to Wikipedia’s entry on Plymouth Colony .

The good vibes of that 1621 feast soon dissipated. As more English settlers arrived in New England, they seized more and more land from the Wampanoag and other tribes, who eventually resisted with violence—in vain. We all know how this story ended. “The Indian population of 10 million that lived north of Mexico when Columbus came would ultimately be reduced to less than a million,” Zinn wrote.

The Arawak and Wampanoag were kind to us...people of European descent. We showed our thanks by sickening, subjugating and slaughtering them. And we have the gall to call them more savage than us.

John Horgan directs the Center for Science Writings at the Stevens Institute of Technology. His books include The End of Science and The End of War.
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