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Thanksgiving, the celebration of a massacre or a day of mourning?

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)

Thanksgiving Day in the US is a day, as its name implies, to thank God for all the blessings bestowed upon them. But it is not a festive occasion for the Native American Indians.

They call this day a day of mourning, for its marks a dark chapter in their lives in which their ancestral lands were taken away from them, marked by forced removals.

The US at the time did not see anything wrong with depriving the natives of their land or children, considering them savages in need of being civilized, by force if necessary.

Every year on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States, people hold ceremonies to celebrate Thanksgiving. The annual Thanksgiving holiday tradition in the US goes back to when the first English settlers landed on the US coast.

The landing was followed by a religious celebration by the settlers, but it proved disastrous for the indigenous people living there. It was just the beginning of the pillage perpetrated in the service of European expansionism.

Indian Americans were greatly affected by the European colonization of the Americas.

The annual celebration has come to symbolize the genocide of Native Americans.

The day known as Thanksgiving has extremely racist origins in the United States. It's a holiday marked by the US government that represents the genocide, the enslavement, of indigenous peoples.

It was marked as a celebration of the bloodshed of Native Americans on their own land by white settlers from Europe who settled on this land.

Ramiro Funez, Journalist

Many believe Thanksgiving, marking the birth of the US, leaves out painful truths about the nation's history, presenting thanksgiving to children as a primarily happy time, trivializes the trials and tribulations of the Indigenous population of the continent.

The United American Indians of New England meet each year at Plymouth Rock on the coals Hill to mourn.

To this day there are indigenous peoples who are being pushed out of their lands in the United States, the Navajo Nation, the Apache Nation, the Chumash nation, the Iroquois nation, all across the United States, indigenous peoples are still resisting and fighting the settler colonial project, known as the United States.

Ramiro Funez, Journalist

They gather to remember and reflect in the hope that America will never forget the sacrifices and tragedies of its native people. The United American Indians of New England declared Thanksgiving the national day of mourning 50 years ago, a day of remembrance and spiritual connection, as well as a protest of the racism and oppression which Native Americans continue to experience to this day.

So the roots of Thanksgiving are actually a celebration of a massacre of innocent women and young children, families who were on their lands, and were brutally murdered in horrific ways by these foreigners who came from England, from Holland, from other European nations. And at its core, this represents the foundation of the US imperialist system, of the United the United States as a nation, as a country.

Ramiro Funez, Journalist

Native Americans have endured genocide, discrimination, the abduction of their children, deliberate infection with smallpox, forced labour and other abuses Inflicted on them by the non Indigenous oppressors.

They were banished by the 1830 Indian Removal Act to largely barren reservations to the American West, and they have remained invisible to the rest of the country ever since.

In the US today, Native American households are 19 times as likely as white households to lack indoor plumbing. African Americans and Latin Americans are twice as likely some Native American families have to drive an hour or more to retrieve fresh water.

Discrimination against indigenous peoples on the United States remains extremely rampant. Right now as we speak, Indigenous peoples are the poorest nation, the poorest communities of all other groups, have the highest level of poverty, even compared to black and Latino communities in the US.

Indigenous peoples have no sovereignty over their land. They are forced to live on reservations. What they call them, which are huge concentration camps, where there is oftentimes no running water, no clean infrastructure, no connectivity to the outside world, very few hospitals and very few schools.

Ramiro Funez, Journalist

The 300,000 members of the Navajo Nation, which spans New Mexico, Arizona and Utah, represent 75% of all households in the US, living without electricity. The vulnerability of Native Americans to COVID-19 is disproportionately high compared with other populations.

Poverty, discrimination, a lack of health care, lack of education, lack of proper housing, and even worse is [the] repression of indigenous peoples through police brutality, through the military industrial complex, through violence, one of the biggest issues that has plagued indigenous communities in the United States are worksites, mining sites, backed by these huge European banks.

Ramiro Funez, Journalist

Poor health amongst the Native Americans has many contributing factors, including high rates of poverty, isolated geography, poor education, nutrition, inadequate sewage disposal, and generally unhealthy living conditions, to name but a few.

Alcoholism is chronic and widespread, spanning all age groups, with heroin use among some tribes four times higher than elsewhere.

The serious mental health issues affecting Native Americans are closely linked to other risk factors.

Native Americans have the highest unemployment rates across the country.

All of the problems mentioned are a result of the US usurpation of Native American territory, and to this day, Native Americans are suffering the consequences of that fateful arrival of the Europeans on National Mourning Day.

 


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