Tag Archives: native americans

First Thanksgiving: Smoke Gets In Your What What?

The wrong kind of Bellows although, in a pinch, he could probably still get the job done.

The wrong kind of Bellows although, in a pinch, he could probably still get the job done.

Remember learning about history in K-12? I don’t remember much but when it comes to the first Thanksgiving a few images do come to mind. The following paragraph is pieced together relying solely on my recollections.

The Pilgrims and the Native Americans came together for a feast. The Pilgrims wore funny brown hats topped with a column adorned with a belt buckle. There was maize. There was jellied cranberry sauce featuring distinctive rings from an aluminum can. There was even pumpkin pie. There was a horn of plenty that provided a veritable cornucopia of magical fresh fruits and vegetables. And, of course, last but not least, there was turkey aplenty that looked a lot like simple outline drawings of my hand.

Have you ever experienced that moment when you realized history class left a lot of things out? It was decidedly not the place to go if you wanted the big picture. Or an unvarnished viewpoint free of bias that didn’t accentuate a certain narrative. No doubt there were time constraints or contractual obligations?

My exhaustive (you’ll get this pun after the jump) research turned up something else that was given to the Pilgrims. It wasn’t on the dinner table, perhaps, but I’m sure it was still something to be very thankful for.
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Listen here pilgrim

The Landing of the Pilgrims, by Henry A. Bacon, 1877

In honor of Thanksgiving, I won’t be throwing my usual rants, offering deep thoughts or trying hard to be negative.

At one point I had thoughts of using an aerial shot of Plymouth Rock for one of the Friday puzzle challenges. Boy did I have the wrong idea about that rock. For one thing, it would hardly be visible from space, even if it was still in its original location. It isn’t.

The historical artifact is now located on the shore of Plymouth Harbor in Plymouth, Massachusetts, where it was moved in 1920.

We all learned in school that the rock is where the pilgrims famously landed in 1620. However, the earliest reference by pilgrims about the rock didn’t happen until 121 years later.

From the Wikipedia page:

In 1835 Alexis De Tocqueville, a French author traveling throughout the United States, wrote:

“This Rock has become an object of veneration in the United States. I have seen bits of it carefully preserved in several towns in the Union. Does this sufficiently show that all human power and greatness is in the soul of man? Here is a stone which the feet of a few outcasts pressed for an instant; and the stone becomes famous; it is treasured by a great nation; its very dust is shared as a relic.”

Another fact about the rock that surprised me is that it has been buried twice by Native American peoples. Once in 1970 and again in 1995:

Native People bury racist rock
Worker’s World, 1 December 1995

Plymouth, Mass.—”Plymouth Rock is a symbol—a monument to murder, slavery, theft, racism and oppression. The white man has killed the spirit in the rock. Things that are dead should stay buried.”

“Bury racism! Bury oppression! Bury `Pilgrim’s Progress’! And bury the rock!”

With these words, Moonanum James (Wampanoag), sachem of United American Indians of New England, led over 300 Native people and their supporters of all nationalities down to Plymouth Rock on Nov. 23.

There, about a dozen protesters scaled an iron fence, jumped into the pit where the rock is located, and buried it.

The crowd cheered as women, men and children representing all four directions—red, black, white and yellow—worked together to cover Plymouth Rock with sand and then planted a Native warrior flag atop it. As the victorious “dirty dozen” climbed out of the pit, Native singers broke into the American Indian Movement song.

The burial of Plymouth Rock capped the 25th anniversary of the National Day of Mourning speak-out held here in Plymouth. The Day of Mourning is a protest against the U.S. celebration of the mythology of Thanksgiving, and against the racist “Pilgrim’s Progress Parade.”

The parade is a re-enactment of the march of Pilgrims to church, with muskets and bibles in hand. Moonanum James said of it: “They want to act as though we sat down and ate turkey and lived happily ever after. That is simply not true—and we keep coming back year after year in order to give answer to their lies.”

Plymouth Rock had previously been buried in 1970, during the very first National Day of Mourning.

As for myself, I’m especially thankful this year for all of the wonderful people I’ve met on WordPress.com. I really enjoy reading your stuff and I appreciate it when you comment on mine. Thanks!