The IHH community and friends met on Thursday the 26th of November to share a Thanksgiving meal together.
Thanksgiving is a United States national holiday that both sets aside time for thankful reflection and remembers the new beginning for those arriving on the shores of North America from England, many of whom were fleeing oppression. These people survived their entry into America largely because of the kindness and generosity of the Native Americans. The Wampanoag people specifically were involved in ‘the first thanksgiving peace meal’ that was shared between the English settlers and the Native Americans.
As is evidenced by the events that quickly unfolded after this first shared Thanksgiving meal and that are still unfolding in the US (the Native American population suffered invasion of their lands, terrible sickness, war, and death, among other atrocities), Thanksgiving is also a day of mourning.
A Wampanoag man, Wamsutta (Frank B.) James, was asked to deliver a speech in the 1970 anniversary celebration of the first Thanksgiving (300 year anniversary). Unfortunately, he was prohibited from giving the speech that he wrote and he refused to give the speech that was written for him. In his original speech, now published and available on the internet, he outlined the true history between the settlers and the Native American peoples along with his challenges and hopes to both people groups. And towards the end he said this:
'What has happened cannot be changed, but 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. You the white man are celebrating an anniversary. We the Wampanoags will help you celebrate in the concept of a beginning. It was the beginning of a new life for the Pilgrims. Now, 350 years later it is a beginning of a new determination for the original American: the American Indian.'
At IHH we celebrated and remembered and gave thanks in this way, in hope for new beginnings and reconciliation.