Thursday, November 23, 2006

Why We Don't Celebrate Thanksgiving Day

I write from our mother, Marilyn's, living room. I am blessed to have Mark and Marilyn (alive and healing), Jenn and Sean (safely back from Portland), and Salem warming the room, watching the Denver Broncos/Kansas City "It's not our word!" Team game. Like most of the U.S. tonight, we had a good family dinner together, pumpkin pie, and now we're all hanging out bemoaning our gluttony and watching the game.

I give thanks for them, for their love and shelter, for the friends and family we have, for our health, for our comparative wealth, our never lacking for food, water, housing, or clothing. I give thanks we're not in prison, that we are not being invaded or bombed or starved out by World Bank policy. But I give thanks for this every day, and so does Mark.

It's hard to break away from the holiday, Thanksgiving Day. It has taken on such mythological import in this country. From the time I was a small child, the myth of Thanksgiving Day was sold to me as this pretty tale in which, after the indigenous peoples of New England saved the Pilgrims from starvation by teaching them about indigenous agriculture, the Indians and the Pilgrims all got together and had a nice meal. There's one part of the myth that is based in truth: the part about native nations teaching us how to feed ourselves in this land. The rest, unfortunately, has no basis in history.

Mark and I, each independent of the other, began fasting on Thanksgiving Day several years ago, in protest not only of the gluttony but the abject refusal of American to honor and acknowledge the true history of this holiday, which is nothing less than the history of this country. I, at least, owe my debt for this idea to the American Indian Movement of Colorado which has tried for years to educate the people of Colorado about this holiday by organizing fasts on the Capitol steps. We break our fast in order to share communion with our families, whom we love--to honor the intention of the holiday. But we must also honor the truth, and thus we respectfully as you to read this passage, and allow it to seem into your consciousness and even, perhaps, your "celebration."

I have many times sat down at dinner tables with Indian people, and given thanks with them to our shared Creator. They have fed me, and I have been privileged on occasion to cook food shared with them. Today, above all else, I give thanks for them: Not only for their hospitality, compassion, and friendship, but for their resistance, their self-love and self-defense, for their mentorship and teaching, and for their partnership in the ongoing struggle for true liberty and justice for all.

The appalling history of Euro-American treatment of indigenous peoples is hard to take, but if we don't educate ourselves, we can't possibly build a better future for all our children. Peace, and may you never know hunger, terror, the grief of watching war take your loved ones.

Peace, love, a roof over your heads, and no fear in the night, Val.

Thanks to Ed Kent for sending this to Mom, and to Mom for sending it to us.
From: "Kenyatta Kenyatta"


With Bible passages in their hands to justify their every move,
those referred to as "Puritans" began their march inland from the seaside
communities. Joined by British settlers, they seized land, took the
strong and young Natives as slaves to work the land, and killed the

When they reached the Connecticut Valley around 1633, they met a
different type of force. The Pequot Nation, very large and very
powerful, had never entered into a peace treaty as had other New
England Native nations. When 2 slave raiders were killed by
resisting Natives, the Puritans demanded that the killers be turned
over. The Pequot refused. What followed was the Pequot War, the
bloodiest of the Native wars in the northeast.

Because of the lack of fighting experience, and the vast numbers of
the fierce Pequot warriors, Commander John Mason elected not to stage an
open battle. Instead, the Pequot were attacked, one village at a
time, in the hours before dawn. Each village was set on fire with
its sleeping Natives burned alive. Women and children over 14 were
captured to be sold as slaves; other survivors were massacred. Many
buried in mass graves, many still alive.

The Natives were sold into slavery in The West Indies, the Azures,
Spain, Algiers and England; everywhere the Puritan merchants traded.
The slave trade was so lucrative that boatloads of 500 at a time
left the harbors of New England.

In 1641, the Dutch governor of Manhattan offered the first scalp
bounty; a common practice in many European countries. This was
broadened by the Puritans to include a bounty for Natives fit to be sold for slavery. The Dutch and Puritans joined forces to exterminate all Natives from New
England, and village after village fell.

Following an especially successful raid against the Pequot in what
is now Stamford, Connecticut, the churches of Manhattan announced a
day of "thanksgiving" to celebrate victory over the heathen savages. This
was Thanksgiving. During the feasting, the hacked off heads of Natives
were kicked through the streets of Manhattan like soccer balls.

The killing took on a frenzy, with days of thanksgiving being held
after each successful massacre. Even the friendly Wampanoag did not

Their chief was beheaded, and his head placed on a pole in Plymouth,
Massachusetts -- where it remained for 24 years. Each town held
thanksgiving days to celebrate their own victories over the Natives
until it became clear that there needed to be an order to these
special occasions. It was George Washington who finally brought a
system and a schedule to thanksgiving when he declared one day to be
celebrated across the nation as Thanksgiving Day.

By this time the Atlantic Slave trade was in full swing as the most
ruthless, vicious devils on the planet set out to destroy two
nations simultaneously, the Afrikan and Indigenous people of the earth.

It was Abraham Lincoln who decreed Thanksgiving Day to be a legal
national holiday during the Civil War -- on the same day and at the
same time he was ordering troops to march against the Sioux in
Minnesota ..... and subsequently ordered 38 Santee Sioux hung on
christmas Eve for leaving the reservation in search of food...the
promised supplies having never materialized)

Let's put this day called thanksgiving in context. For ourselves,
our families and especially the coming generation. Teach them the
truth. It will set them free in a way that we in this present generation have
not yet been able to accomplish because of compromise.

Join me in a day of fasting meditation and prayer. Let us use this
day as a time to plan our continued strategies for struggle, and to
remember the ancestors, both AfriKan and Native Amerikkan who
perished in the Maafa of these two proud Nations.

Let us move to the next level, seeking to find a way to pry away
from eurocentric thought and behavior and go back home to our true
selves, our best selves, your AFRIKAN SELF!!

Away with european holidays, no matter how convenient they may be.
No matter how much you like turkey and stuffing. No matter how good it
feels to hang out with the family. Eat turkey on another day. Come
together with family on other days and lets stop letting this
(eurocentric) society dictate and dupe us into the celebration of
its sickness.

If you can feel me raise you fist in the air!!!

Brother Kenyatta

If you can't,,,,,,,,,,,,,,eat turkey!


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