Monthly Archives: November 2010

Native Blood: The Myth of Thanksgiving

Young American Indian ManOne of the obligations of organizers, revolutionaries, activists, militants is to try the best we can to bring our politics into our everyday relationships. Easier said than done, right?

The holiday season in the US is ideologically potent; a lot of the hopes, communal spirit, self-organization, culture of working class spaces centers on the holidays with the (often extended) family. For those of us that maintain connections with the families we grew up in, these spaces are often filled with highly polarized political debates where little content gets through. For those of us (many of us queer) that have been cut off, or cut ourselves off from these spaces, the holiday spirit can feel particularly hollow.

We need a little dose of realness to point out the contradictions between the communal values of the mythical Thanksgiving table and the harsh reality of the actual US capitalism, both today’s form as well as the kind that brought death off of the Mayflower in 1620. Thanks to Mike Ely at Kasama for writing this much needed history of how so many of us ended up here, thanking a benevolent white God for the richness of a land without a people.

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In mid-winter 1620 the English ship Mayflower landed on the North American coast, delivering 102 exiles. The original Native people of this stretch of shoreline had already been killed off. In 1614 a British expedition had landed there. When they left they took 24 Indians as slaves and left smallpox behind. Three years of plague wiped out between 90 and 96 percent of the inhabitants of the coast, destroying most villages completely.

After the first colonies were established - The Pequod War

The Europeans landed and built their colony called “the Plymouth Plantation” near the deserted ruins of the Indian village of Pawtuxet. They ate from abandoned cornfields grown wild. Only one Pawtuxet named Squanto had survived–he had spent the last years as a slave to the English and Spanish in Europe. Squanto spoke the colonists’ language and taught them how to plant corn and how to catch fish until the first harvest. Squanto also helped the colonists negotiate a peace treaty with the nearby Wampanoag tribe, led by the chief Massasoit. Continue reading

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