Friday, November 24, 2006

For Those With Warm and Fuzzy Feelings About Thanksgiving

With your turkey leftovers safely tucked away in the refrigerator and the alcohol almost gone from your system, perhaps you may have some interest in those people that Americans love to caricature this time of year. Here's some light reading you might enjoy. Feel free to comment if you actually take the time to read any of these webpages.

Redskin: A Hate Word Defined
If you are a Native American or if you have the blood of Native people within you, understand you are the survivor of a holocaust.
You have had your family and your dignity stolen from you and in its place is a deeply perverse set of hate messages swim before your eyes. If you can shut out the hate and the lies, you will find a profound emptiness. You family tried to protect you. That is why you know so little of your heritage, so little of the ways of living which are not approved by the self proclaimed "master of the beasts". That is why so much of the religions, histories, and stories of the RED HOLOCAUST remain a secret today.

Decal It! Direct Action, Label Racism in Your Community
While November has been recognized as Native American Heritage Month, true honor and recognition can not be fulfilled until ALL forms of public and government endorsed bigotry and racism against Native people cease.
In the pathological dynamic of genocidal histories, the perpetrator culture invariably turns its gaze to the horrors registered in the archives and accounts of the "other guys." This is why Holocaust studies in the United States focus almost exclusively on the atrocity of Auschwitz, not of Wounded Knee or Sand Creek. Norman Finkelstein, in his discussion of the way images of the Holocaust have been manufactured to reap moral and economic benefits for members of the Jewish elite, states that the presence of the Holocaust Museum in Washington is "particularly incongruous in the absence of a museum commemorating crimes in the course of American history" and makes specific reference to the slave trade and genocide against the American Indians. Peter Novik suggests that the Holocaust has become a sort of "civil religion" for American Jews who have lost touch with their own ethnic and religious identity, and asserts that "in the United States the Holocaust is explicitly used for the purpose of national self-congratulation: the Americanization of the Holocaust has involved using it to demonstrate the difference between the Old World and the New, and to celebrate, by showing its negation, the American way of life."

Spiritual and Cultural Genocide
It is not surprising, then, how few really know about how Custer treated, resolved the "Indian problem"...
How few people of the world really know that he and his troops mercilessly massacred entire villages, raping and killing the women, brutally executing every one without exception; the grandmothers and grandfathers, the men and women, the teenagers - and the children and babies?

Views and voices of non-Natives:

Teaching Thanksgiving from a different perspective
Teacher Bill Morgan walks into his third-grade class wearing a black Pilgrim hat made of construction paper and begins snatching up pencils, backpacks and glue sticks from his pupils. He tells them the items now belong to him because he "discovered" them.
The reaction is exactly what Morgan expects: The kids get angry and want their things back.

American Indian Stereotypes: 500 Years of Hate Crimes
A population decrease of ninety-five percent over four hundred years does not just happen. Do genocide and holocaust suddenly sound apropos?

Teaching About Thanksgiving
This rigid fundamentalism was transmitted to America by the Plymouth colonists, and it sheds a very different light on the "Pilgrim" image we have of them. This is best illustrated in the written text of the Thanksgiving sermon delivered at Plymouth in 1623 by "Mather the Elder." In it, Mather the Elder gave special thanks to God for the devastating plague of smallpox which wiped out the majority of the Wampanoag Indians who had been their benefactors. He praised God for destroying "chiefly young men and children, the very seeds of increase, thus clearing the forests to make way for a better growth", i.e., the Pilgrims.


Anonymous said...

I like this post but have you met a Native person who has had good feelings for thanksgiving?

I ask because you seem to direct the post at them. Most of the Native Americans I meet are well aware of the genocide of colonialism. In much the same way that most Black people I know are well aware of the genocide of slavery. It is other folks that are ususally the problem.

Angel Singer said...

As a Native American, I thank you for this wonderful post. It is important to remember the facts, not the pleasant mythology.

Please feel free to stop by my blog and read my essay, "Why Don't You Celebrate Thanksgiving?"

bint alshamsa said...

Actually, I have met a few Native Americans who celebrate Thanksgiving or are simply ambivalent towards it. Thankfully, they are in the minority.

My post was really directed at anyone who might not be aware of the reasons why some of us don't celebrate Thanksgiving. I don't think I've written about it a lot here on my blog but, on a few other people's blogs, I have discussed how difficult it can be to make sure that our children, the next generation of Native Americans, grow up with the sort of awareness that they won't receive from schools and television and most books.

Kay Olson said...

Thanks for taking the time to round up all these links. I learned a few things I didn't know.

Foofa said...

I still wonder why Columbus Day is a holiday? I guess to me, although thanksgiving is supposed to symbolize the start of a genocide I leave history out of it and just focus on my friends and family family. It is good to have an excuse to do that. I never forget the history and would never teach my future children anything but the truth.

bint alshamsa said...

Well, I certainly wouldn't say that all those who do celebrate Thanksgiving are bad people. However, consider this:

What if someone said that they were going to ignore the history of the Reichskristallnacht and simply celebrating it as a night of German unity? No matter how you cut it, kristallnacht and Thanksgiving both mark the beginnings of genocides that would likely have resulted in our deaths had we been alive and in those areas where these events originated.

Saying that you leave the history out of it and celebrate Thanksgiving anyway is like someone saying they leave the history out of kristallnacht and celebrate it anyway. I just don't see that as a defensible position.

Foofa said...

You have a definite point, not one i can really argue with. All I can do is try to explain why I choose to celebrate it. For a person whose friends and family are scattered around the country any time when you can see people is precious. We all get time off for this day and we can get together to eat and enjoy each other. What else am I going to do? I'm not a religious person but I still go home and celebrate christmas. I don't think about Jesus once that day but I celebrate being able to give to my friends and family and to spend time with them. To me it's a question of boycotting one of the few times a year I get to see people I love or not.

bint alshamsa said...

Well, it doesn't need to be a question of that. One needn't celebrate a holiday in order to spend time with their loved ones. I don't go out of my way not to see anyone that day, I just don't commemorate it as some holiday. I use it as an opportunity to reflect on what it means to be a member of a marginalized group. Understanding it as the Day of Mourning and refusing to propagate the idea that "Thanksgiving" is a holiday doesn't mean one must refuse to be around their family.

Foofa said...

yeah, I'll give it to you on that one.