IS NATIONAL DAY OF MOURNING?
An annual tradition since 1970, Day of Mourning is a solemn, spiritual and highly political day. Many of us fast from sundown the day before through the afternoon of that day (and have a social after Day of Mourning so that participants in DOM can break their fasts). We are mourning our ancestors and the genocide of our peoples and the theft of our lands. It is a day when we mourn, but we also feel our strength in political action. Over the years, participants in Day of Mourning have buried Plymouth Rock a number of times, boarded the Mayflower replica, and placed ku klux klan sheets on the statue of William Bradford, etc.
AND WHERE IS DAY OF MOURNING?
Thursday, November 28, 2019 (U.S. “thanksgiving” day) at Cole’s Hill, Plymouth, Massachusetts, 12 noon SHARP. Cole’s Hill is the hill above Plymouth Rock in the Plymouth historic waterfront area.
THERE BE A MARCH?
Yes, there will be a march through the historic district of Plymouth. Plymouth agreed, as part of the settlement of 10/19/98, that UAINE may march on Day of Mourning without the need for a permit as long as we give the town advance notice.
Although we very much welcome our non-Native supporters to stand with us, it is a day when only Indigenous people speak about our history and the struggles that are taking place throughout the Americas. Speakers will be by invitation only. This year’s NDOM is dedicated to Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls & Two Spirits, and to our thousands of relatives who are migrants and are being abused by ICE and other government agencies, including having their children stolen from them. We didn’t cross the border – The border crossed us! #NoJusticeOnStolenLand
Please note that NDOM is not a commercial event, so we ask that people do not sell merchandise or distribute leaflets at the outdoor program. If you have literature to distribute, you are welcome to place it on a literature table at the social hall following the speak-out and march. Also, we ask that you do not eat (unless you must do so for medical reasons) at the outdoor speak-out and march out of respect for the participants who are fasting. Finally, dress for the weather!
Important Information about the 2019 National Day of Mourning
READ THIS: We will have the social in a NEW hall this year.* We will be in the Loring Center at 384 Court Street, which is part of the Zion Lutheran Church and is 2 miles away from the Plymouth Rock area. Many thanks to the church for welcoming us and to our allies who helped us to secure this space.*
If you are bringing prepared food for the pot-luck, please drop it off BEFORE going to the 12 noon gathering on Cole’s Hill. Go around to the parking lot in the back, and there will be some people there who will take the food from you. Then you can be on your way to Plymouth Center. When the National Day of Mourning march and rallies are all over, people can travel to the social hall. No one will be seated or served at the social until the rally is over and the caravan is arriving.
Please have in mind that first preference for seating will as always be for elders, young children and their caretakers, people with medical needs or disabilities, pregnant people, and people who have traveled a long distance to be with us (for example, the folks on the buses from Brooklyn and Manhattan). After they have been seated, we will seat others in remaining seats. We follow thousands of years of Indigenous tradition in making sure that those who need to eat first are able to do so.
We have the best kitchen crew in world history and are so grateful for all their work. Be polite to them! We always need volunteers before, during and esp. after the social. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you can volunteer. We reserve the right to press you into service even if you don’t volunteer. ?
Please check the Facebook event page for 50th National Day of Mourning for updates on transportation, including buses and carpooling. We do not recommend MBTA service as it is limited on a holiday.
ATTEND BUT STILL WANT TO HELP?:
How you can still support the National Day of Mourning even if you can’t come to Plymouth.
In addition to National Day of Mourning and supporting many other important struggles, UAINE works with other organizations to do lots more!
UAINE is providing leadership in the work of IndigenousPeoplesDayMA.org, which has been providing support and strategy for Indigenous Peoples Day campaigns in Massachusetts. Successful campaigns have included Cambridge, Brookline, and more, and we also have a bill before the state legislature. See the website IndigenousPeoplesDayMA.org for more information!
UAINE is also a key component of the Massachusetts Indigenous Legislative Agenda, which consolidates the efforts of those working on five important bills involving Indigenous issues that are currently before the MA legislature to make a statewide Indigenous Peoples Day, Prohibit the use of Native sports team names and Mascots, Redesign the State Flag & Seal, Support Native Education, and Protect Native Heritage. To learn more about this important work and how you can help to support it, go to MAIndigenousAgenda.org.
National Day of Mourning Reflects on
Thanksgiving’s Horrific, Bloody History
Thanksgiving: A National Day of Mourning for Indians, 1998
by Moonanum James and Mahtowin Munro
Every year since 1970, United American Indians of New England have organized the National Day of Mourning observance in Plymouth at noon on Thanksgiving Day. Every year, hundreds of Native people and our supporters from all four directions join us. Every year, including this year, Native people from throughout the Americas will speak the truth about our history and about current issues and struggles we are involved in.
Why do hundreds of people stand out in the cold rather than sit home eating turkey and watching football? Do we have something against a harvest festival?
Of course not. But Thanksgiving in this country — and in particular in Plymouth –is much more than a harvest home festival. It is a celebration of the pilgrim mythology.
According to this mythology, the pilgrims arrived, the Native people fed them and welcomed them, the Indians promptly faded into the background, and everyone lived happily ever after.
The truth is a sharp contrast to that mythology.
The pilgrims are glorified and mythologized because the circumstances of the first English-speaking colony in Jamestown were frankly too ugly (for example, they turned to cannibalism to survive) to hold up as an effective national myth. The pilgrims did not find an empty land any more than Columbus “discovered” anything. Every inch of this land is Indian land. The pilgrims (who did not even call themselves pilgrims) did not come here seeking religious freedom; they already had that in Holland. They came here as part of a commercial venture. They introduced sexism, racism, anti-lesbian and gay bigotry, jails, and the class system to these shores. One of the very first things they did when they arrived on Cape Cod — before they even made it to Plymouth — was to rob Wampanoag graves at Corn Hill and steal as much of the Indians’ winter provisions of corn and beans as they were able to carry. They were no better than any other group of Europeans when it came to their treatment of the Indigenous peoples here. And no, they did not even land at that sacred shrine called Plymouth Rock, a monument to racism and oppression which we are proud to say we buried in 1995.
The first official “Day of Thanksgiving” was proclaimed in 1637 by Governor Winthrop. He did so to celebrate the safe return of men from the Massachusetts Bay Colony who had gone to Mystic, Connecticut to participate in the massacre of over 700 Pequot women, children, and men.
About the only true thing in the whole mythology is that these pitiful European strangers would not have survived their first several years in “New England” were it not for the aid of Wampanoag people. What Native people got in return for this help was genocide, theft of our lands, and never-ending repression. We are treated either as quaint relics from the past, or are, to most people, virtually invisible.
When we dare to stand up for our rights, we are considered unreasonable. When we speak the truth about the history of the European invasion, we are often told to “go back where we came from.” Our roots are right here. They do not extend across any ocean.
National Day of Mourning began in 1970 when a Wampanoag man, Wamsutta Frank James, was asked to speak at a state dinner celebrating the 350th anniversary of the pilgrim landing. He refused to speak false words in praise of the white man for bringing civilization to us poor heathens. Native people from throughout the Americas came to Plymouth, where they mourned their forebears who had been sold into slavery, burned alive, massacred, cheated, and mistreated since the arrival of the Pilgrims in 1620.
But the commemoration of National Day of Mourning goes far beyond the circumstances of 1970.
Can we give thanks as we remember Native political prisoner Leonard Peltier, who was framed up by the FBI and has been falsely imprisoned since 1976? Despite mountains of evidence exonerating Peltier and the proven misconduct of federal prosecutors and the FBI, Peltier has been denied a new trial. Bill Clinton apparently does not feel that particular pain and has refused to grant clemency to this innocent man.
To Native people, the case of Peltier is one more ordeal in a litany of wrongdoings committed by the U.S. government against us. While the media in New England present images of the “Pequot miracle” in Connecticut, the vast majority of Native people continue to live in the most abysmal poverty.
Can we give thanks for the fact that, on many reservations, unemployment rates surpass fifty percent? Our life expectancies are much lower, our infant mortality and teen suicide rates much higher, than those of white Americans. Racist stereotypes of Native people, such as those perpetuated by the Cleveland Indians, the Atlanta Braves, and countless local and national sports teams, persist. Every single one of the more than 350 treaties that Native nations signed has been broken by the U.S. government. The bipartisan budget cuts have severely reduced educational opportunities for Native youth and the development of new housing on reservations, and have caused cause deadly cutbacks in health-care and other necessary services.
Are we to give thanks for being treated as unwelcome in our own country?
Or perhaps we are expected to give thanks for the war that is being waged by the Mexican government against Indigenous peoples there, with the military aid of the U.S. in the form of helicopters and other equipment? When the descendants of the Aztec, Maya, and Inca flee to the U.S., the descendants of the wash-ashore pilgrims term them ‘illegal aliens” and hunt them down.
We object to the “Pilgrim Progress” parade and to what goes on in Plymouth because they are making millions of tourist dollars every year from the false pilgrim mythology. That money is being made off the backs of our slaughtered indigenous ancestors.
Increasing numbers of people are seeking alternatives to such holidays as Columbus Day and Thanksgiving. They are coming to the conclusion that, if we are ever to achieve some sense of community, we must first face the truth about the history of this country and the toll that history has taken on the lives of millions of Indigenous, Black, Latino, Asian, and poor and working class white people.
The myth of Thanksgiving, served up with dollops of European superiority and manifest destiny, just does not work for many people in this country. As Malcolm X once said about the African-American experience in America, “We did not land on Plymouth Rock. Plymouth Rock landed on us.” Exactly.