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Happy Thanksgiving

The First Thanksgiving, photographed for The New York Times

A lovely and thoughtful essay by Jacqueline Keeler, a member of the Dineh Nation and the Yankton Dakotah Sioux:


Here’s her essay’s concluding thought:

Where is the hero who will destroy that heart of evil? I believe it must be each of us. Indeed, when I give thanks this Thursday and I cook my native food, I will be thinking of this hidden heart and how my ancestors survived the evil it caused.

Because if we can survive, with our ability to share and to give intact, then the evil and the good will that met that Thanksgiving day in the land of the Wampanoag will have come full circle. And the healing can begin.

And, via tolerance.org’s “Thanksgiving Mourning” page, the suppressed 1970 speech of Wamsutta “Frank” James, a Wampanoag man, which includes the following:

“today we must work towards a more humane America, a more Indian America, where men and nature once again are important; where the Indian values of honor, truth, and brotherhood prevail.”


  1. November 22, 2012 at 9:39 am

    Thank you for this thoughtful essay and all your posts throughout the year.

  2. fennell3@suddenlink.net
    November 22, 2012 at 9:45 am

    Thank you for this. I plan to read it at our gathering this afternoon.. Sista

  3. Ansel Adams
    November 22, 2012 at 10:32 am

    “The First Thanksgiving, photographed for The New York Times”

    Didn’t know they had Photoshop then. . .

  4. Anonymous
    November 22, 2012 at 11:04 am

    Thankyou for the left wing, anti American propaganda. Natives got concord, get over it. Most native death was NOT intentional. Exposure to disease was not a concept 400 years ago. Jacqueline Keeler, no doubt is a member of AIM.

  5. November 22, 2012 at 11:08 am

    Thanks, Jonnel and Sista, and you’re welcome, Anonymous.

  6. HUUFC
    November 22, 2012 at 11:54 am

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  7. November 22, 2012 at 11:58 am

    Cheers, Mitch, and you too, HUUFC ;)

  8. November 22, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    Amazing. I got moderate-listed, sending good thoughts to Mitch & HUUFC.

    Thoughts, however are there — enjoy, both.

  9. Anonymous
    November 22, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    Wonderful Thanksgiving thoughts. Thank you.

  10. anonymous
    November 22, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    Indian values also included war & conquest.

  11. Black Hawk
    November 22, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    . . .and “counting coup,” a form of tag.

    “Counting coup refers to the winning of prestige in battle by the Plains Indians of North America. Warriors won prestige by acts of bravery in the face of the enemy, and these acts could be recorded in various ways and retold as stories. Any blow struck against the enemy counted as a coup, but the most prestigious acts included touching an enemy warrior with the hand, bow, or with a coup stick then escaping unharmed.[1] Touching the first enemy to die in battle or touching the enemy’s defensive works also counted as coup.[1] Counting coup could also involve stealing an enemy’s weapons or horses tied up to his lodge in camp.[1] Risk of injury or death was required to count coup.”–Wikipedia

    Rather different than drone warfare, black sites and empire-building.

  12. Hestor Ryan of Mystic River
    November 22, 2012 at 6:22 pm

    Thanksgiving has changed several times and the rituals we celebrate today were all added in at different times. Also to make things confusing the Native Americans really did have several festivals a year that happen to correlate with different harvest days. The first “real” Thanksgiving that even remotely resembles the mythology between Europeans and Natives was done in the Summer in 1585 on Croatoan Island in what’s now Cape Hatteras North Carolina. However the claims about the Thanksgiving feast of today came way after this event had been long forgotten and it got attributed to another area. The original Thanksgiving was once a set of holidays for the British colony of Massachusetts. They were celebrating three different massacres of Native Americans. The Mystic River massacre had 700 Natives murdered, where their long houses were set on fire and those fleeing the flames were ran through with swords. The colonists gave Thanks to the Christian God for their victories. Later these events were morphed to one day, and it became a state holiday. When the British Colonies became the United states, it remained a state holiday, although it was scarcely celebrated and nearly forgotten. Eventually it became a National holiday through a decree by Lincoln during the Civil War, and this is where the fairy tale stories of brotherly love come from. At last, Roosevelt changed the date of the holiday for commercial interests and that is what the date still is today. Unofficially the day after Thanksgiving has become a national buy-things on sale for xmas day. Still the prevailing story is about the famous dinner, and the Mystic River Massacres have long since been swept under the rug. And the real feast on Croatoan has been omitted from the pages of history.
    From here

    Peace in the present, and I hope all have much to be grateful for. Nice post Mitch- thanks.

  13. anonymous
    November 22, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    Friday is also Buy Nothing Day http://www.buynothingday.org

  14. Erasmus
    November 23, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    The kind of historically naive thinking exemplified by this essay should not induce a fit of liberal guilt. Most people seek a good versus evil narrative when they invoke the past, and the writer of this piece is no different. If anyone is curious about a more nuanced perspective on Indian/Anglo relations, a good place to begin is the book ‘The Ecological Indian: Myth and History,’ by Shepard Krech III, a professor at Brown University.

  15. Hestor Ryan of Mystic River
    November 23, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    ‘Most people are unaware of the real origins of Thanksgiving in this country. Thanksgiving did not become a national holiday in the US until the Civil War, at which time the mythology of the origins of the celebration was created. The real first Thanksgiving was celebrated in this country on July 4th, 1584 on Hatteras Island. Captains Phillip Amadas and Arthur Barlowe were the very first Englishmen to set foot in what is now the United States and they made landfall on Hatteras Island. To celebrate the safe crossing the English gave praise and thanksgiving to God by fasting. That’s right Thanksgiving has gone from a day of fasting to a feast! The first ever feast between the English and Native Americans also took place on Hatteras Island when chief Granganimeo provided the English with six freshly cooked bucks, many different fowl, vegetables and corn called pagitowr by the Hatteras/Croatoan Indians. The English traded iron tools and metal plates for pearls, uppowoc (tobacco) and deer skins. The relationship with the Croatoan was positive and three of the Indians even departed for England with Barlowe and Amadas. The purpose of this first English voyage to the New World was to find a good place to set up a privateer base to rob the Spanish ships on their return voyages to Spain from the Caribbean. The Gulf Stream was the ocean current used by all to get back to Europe from the New World and Hatteras Island or Croatoan as it was called then is the closest land to the Gulf Stream and has been used as a base for privateering or attack on merchant shipping in every American war from 1584 to WW2.

    The following year in 1585, the English returned to Croatoan and 105 Englishmen spread out exploring the mainland and rivers. Thirty-five of the men lived on Hatteras/Croatoan under the direction of Edward Stafford and continued the positive trade relationship with the Indians begun by Barlowe the year before. Only two of the three Indians that went to England returned as one died in England. One of these Indians, Manteo of Croatoan, helped the English as an interpreter and the bond between the Croatoan and the English continued to grow.

    However, a group of about 40 Englishmen under the direction of Ralph Lane who went to visit towns on the North bank of the Pamlico River savagely burned down the village of Aguscogoc over a missing cup despite the fact that the village had just showered he and his men with gifts. After this, Lane took his crew up the Roanoke River and attacked the village of Chowanook near modern day Edenton. Ralph Lane kidnapped the son of Cheif Menatonan and held him for ransom. In response the Indians quit feeding the English and stopped building them wier nets to catch fish. An effort was made to free Menatonan’s son by two men named Andacon and Osocan but Lane caught them and beheaded them. Next , Lane tricked Wingina, the chief of the men who tried to free Lane’s prisoner, and under a flag of truce murdered the chief by setting up an ambush. Wingina was shot in the back twice and then had his head cut off. Shortly after this an English fleet arrived off Croatoan and Stafford informed Lane and his thugs who were now on Roanoke Island. All this time Stafford and his men enjoyed a peaceful stay on Croatoan.

    The English went home as Lane’s actions had ruined the entire mission and the men on Roanoke were starving, they had even eaten their own hunting dogs. The next colony to come to the New Worls was the one referred to as ‘lost’ in 1587. Once again Edward Stafford returned to the Outer Banks. This time the idea was to go to Chesapeake but the ships stopped off Hatorask (Rodanthe) to pick up 15 soldiers who had been left on Roanoke Island. They saw no sign of the soldiers aside from two skeletons. Not a week after arrival on Roanoke one of the colonists, George Howe, was murdered by Indians from the mainland where Lane had unleashed so much terror. All this time Manteo was with the colonists. It was decided that Edward Stafford, Manteo and 20 other colonists go to Croatoan to find out who had killed George Howe and what had happened to the other 15 Englishmen.

    The Croatoan hosted the English to a feast and told them how the mainland Indians had attacked the 15 Englishmen and also killed George Howe while he was alone crabbing. The English asked the Croatoan to speak to the mainlanders for them and explain that they were not Ralph Lane’s group and only wanted to renew the friendship and love that they had in the days of Barlowe. The Croatoan agreed to do this. Unfortunately, the written record stops shortly after this when Governor John White left the colony to get supplies in England and did not return for 3 years. He told the colonists to write down where they were going on a tree should they leave Roanoke Island and mark the tree with a cross if they left for reasons of danger.

    In 1590, White returned and saw the word CROATOAN carved on a tree in all capital letters and no cross. The houses had been taken down and the small boats were gone. John White immediatley set sail for Croatoan/Hatteras but never made it due to a storm. No Englishmen ever made it to Croatoan to check for the colony until John Laswon many decades later. (The colony was then considered abandoned not lost) Lawson found blue eyed Croatoan who said their ancestors were white people who could speak out of a book. Some of these Indians even wore English clothes and mentioned Sir Walter Raleigh’s ship by name!

    In 1998 many 16th century English items were found on Hatteras by archeologist Dr. David Phelps including a coppersmith shop, nails, leadshot, tools, a gunlock and gold ring that belonged to Master Kendall of Edward Stafford’s crew. Logic dictates that the ‘lost’ colony probably went to Croatoan as they indicated on the tree carving and eventually assimilated with the Indians there. We now know from archeology that the only year round Indian town on the Outer Banks was Croatoan and that it has been inhabited since around 400AD and was home to thousands of Croatoan at the time of the ‘lost’ colony. The Croatoan were the only allies the English had and the colony did write Croatoan on the tree and it was Manteo’s hometown and a place the English had lived before in both 1584 and 1585. Archeology or not, it would appear from the primary sources that the colony going to Croatoan be at least considered very probable based on common sense alone. The idea that the colony was lost and that we have no clues where they went is absurd but makes a great mystery and sells tickets. Happy Thanksgiving from Americas birthplace…Hatteras.’ same guy wrote this… thanks for the tip Erasmus…

  16. November 23, 2012 at 6:04 pm

    Thanks Taking day message from Leonard Peltier
    From: Political Prisoner News
    Date: Thu, Nov 22, 2012

    Greeting my relatives, friends, and supporters, It is with great honor that I get a chance to speak with you even though it’s a written message that someone has to read. I’m saddened that we have to call this a Day of Mourning, but we must take every opportunity to remind this nation when it comes to keeping their word about treaties, about human rights, about the environment, about excess pollution – that it has failed miserably on all of those concerns. Also want to remind the major religions that speak about peace and love and brotherhood and are celebrating this thing called Thanksgiving, that we the native people of this land realistically overall have nothing to truly be thankful about regarding the arrival of the pilgrims.

    And I would also like to remind the major various religions of this country that in all their teachings it says you reap what you sow. And if that is a true statement, if that is the law given by the Creator, then you have to only look around at the news of the day to see that that statement is coming to pass. This country is not keeping its solemn word under god that it gave regarding our treaties. And they don’t keep their own Scriptures that say not to bear false witness or lie. They’ve tried to keep us from honoring our fathers by destroying our culture. They violated their word where it says “thou shalt not kill”, violated every one of their commandments regarding our people in this land. And they will truly reap what they sow.

    I also want to say that in the spirit of compassion and reason, and fairness, and forgiveness, that its never too late to turn things around. Actually I should say that’s not quite correct, it can be too late. There’s an old Cheyenne saying that a nation is never destroyed until the hearts of its women are on the ground. And if you look around you will see the decline of America. And it is entirely possible that that teaching is not far off. One thing as a people that we do have to be thankful for and thankful to the Creator only, we are still alive we are still a people. And we still know who we are, we still have a commitment to the Creator to protect this land, we still have a commitment to protect the laws of nature that were given unto us, to our ancestors. We are probably the only people on this continent that would be better off if this whole system fell apart. Because we possess the knowledge, the teaching and the culture to live in harmony with that which the Creator has given us.

    I want to encourage all the young people, to always remember your health and the health of the earth are the most important things that you possess. And that self-discipline is the most important thing that you can learn. And taking responsibility for ourselves and our future is the most empowering thing that we can do. Right now you are listening to my words the words of a man in prison for 30 something years. A man who has had limited contact and yet I am able to speak to you now. And the reason I am saying this is because with all the freedom that you do possess you could do so much more. Educate yourself to our true history, educate yourself to what is really going on today, and educate yourself as to what needs to be done to make a better tomorrow for yourselves and your children’s children, our future generations.

    Again I want to say I am just an ordinary man caught up in extraordinary circumstances. There is nothing that I have done or said that you cannot do or say and much better because you possess more freedom than I do. We need each other. If I am ever to be free, I need you. And the truth is, none of us are truly free right now, because any people who is afraid of their government, is not free. We all need to be warriors of one. Each needs to know how to defend themselves on any level. And as I’ve said before we need to recapture the freedoms we’ve lost and protect the ones we still have.

    In closing I want to encourage each and every one of you to stand up in your own way in whatever way you can for what’s right, try to right what’s wrong and know that in my heart and in whatever way I can help you, that I will be with you. We need each other, you need each other, and we need the help of all peoples to correct this great damage that is taking place throughout the earth. Our battle is not with a race a people or a color, our battle is with ignorance and greed that is ruling the governments of men today. Again I want to thank you and in the spirit of crazy horse and all those beautiful people that have stood up for what’s right in the past, and the ones standing up now. Stay strong and support one another,

    Your Friend Always and in All Ways, Leonard Peltier

  17. HUUFC
    November 23, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    Leonard Peltier is not a political Prisoner, he is a convicted double murderer. He has nothing relevant to say.

  18. November 23, 2012 at 7:47 pm

    That was just beautiful Verbena, thanks.

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