Now that you’ve had time to sleep off your turkey coma, I thought I’d call your attention to one bit of Thanksgiving news that slipped under the radar for a lot of folks. There are some members of the Native American community who still protest the tradition of Thanksgiving by recognizing it as a national day of mourning. As Newsweek relates in this story, the Aquinnah Wampanoag tribe in the northeast is particularly involved in “anti-Thanksgiving” as it’s come to be known.
The 50th annual National Day of Mourning will take place on Thanksgiving Day. This is a day of protest by Native Americans on the East Coast who visit Cole’s Hill—which overlooks Plymouth Rock in Plymouth, Massachusetts—to remember that famous first Thanksgiving from a different perspective.
The National Day of Mourning was established to remember the Native American suffering that occurred when the Mayflower landed. A plaque at Cole’s Hill explains that view. “Thanksgiving Day is a reminder of the genocide of millions of their people, the theft of their lands, and the relentless assault on their cultures,” it reads in a photo shared by CNN. “Participants in National Day of Mourning honor Native ancestors and the struggles of Native peoples to survive today.”
In the linked article, you can find portions of a speech that Wamsutta Frank James, the leader of the Aquinnah Wampanoag, wanted to give on Thanksgiving in 1970. He was not allowed to speak because it was felt that the speech would be too divisive. Reading portions of it, I can certainly see why, but it’s a tough subject to tackle without upsetting someone.