Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Happy National Day of Mourning?

Thanksgiving, aka National Day of Mourning from Wikipedia:

Since 1921 (the 300th year after the first Thanksgiving) the Commonwealth of Massachusetts stage a reenactment of Thanksgiving each year. They gather at a church on the site of the Pilgrims' original meeting house, in 17th century costume. After prayers and a sermon, they march to Plymouth Rock. This annual event had even become something of a tourist attraction.

The National Day of Mourning began on the 350th anniversary celebration of the Pilgrims' arrival on Wampanoag American Indian's land. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts was planning to celebrate friendly relations between their forefathers and the Wampanoag. Wamsutta was invited to make a speech at the celebration. However, when the anniversary planners reviewed his speech beforehand, they decided it was not appropriate for their celebration. The reason given was, "...the theme of the anniversary celebration is brotherhood and anything inflammatory would have been out of place." (Source: UAINE) Wamsutta used as a basis for his speech one of the Pilgrim's books - a Pilgrim's account of their first year on Indian land. The book tells of the opening of his ancestor's graves, taking their wheat and bean supplies, and of the selling of his ancestors as slaves for 220 shillings each. Upon being handed a revised speech, written by a public relations person, Wamsutta decided he would not be attending the celebration. Instead, to protest the continued silencing of the American Indian people, he and his supporters went to neigbouring Coles Hill, near the statue of the Massasoit (leader of the Wampanoag when the Pilgrims landed). Overlooking the Plymouth Harbour and the Mayflower replica, he gave his speech. This was the first National Day of Mourning.
The National Day of Mourning protest in Plymouth continues to this day, now led by his son, and the group James helped found in 1970, UAINE.

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