Insight News

Saturday
Aug 30th

Homage to the original peoples

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As Thanksgiving Day again comes around, let us, as we always should, place the occasion in context. In most households, the thanks given expresses gratitude for the food on folk’s plates. As Thanksgiving Day again comes around, let us, as we always should, place the occasion in context. In most households, the thanks given expresses gratitude for the food on folk’s plates. With which, of course, there’s nothing wrong: it is, beyond doubt an admirable character trait to be thus grateful the yearlong. However, the holiday’s celebration nonetheless smacks of hypocrisy.

There’s good reason, after all, why more than a few Native Americans hold the affair in contempt. I asked a friend who’s Native American whether she celebrates Thanksgiving Day. Her prompt response was, “We eat, yes. Do we celebrate Thanksgiving Day? No. On U.S. holidays, we gather as family. We eat, talk, laugh, argue and it is about getting together as family, not about celebrating the particular holiday as it is ‘marketed’ by current US businesses.”

Thanksgiving Day originated, of course, as homage to indigenous Americans for graciously keeping the illegal immigrants at Plymouth Rock — who couldn’t figure out the new environment — from ignorantly starving to death. Today, it is, like I said, being grateful for full plates. The hypocrisy is evinced by the fact that grade school students turn their books to the section about interloping “pilgrims” being fed by Native inhabitants and subsequently taught how to grow and hunt for themselves. The same children get to watch their peers act out cute skits once a year before returning to the rest of the curriculum’s indoctrination. Society leaves this rosy glow on U. S. and Native American interactions to suffice as the extent to which the nation has any conscience at all as regards the matter. As my friend put it, “I doubt that the majority of USers [a fine play on words] sit down at their tables and give thanks for Indians feeding their ancestors that first winter; or give thanks for the US military killing Indians on this continent so land for immigrants would be accessible and available for them and their families and they could have the lifestyle they have today.”

That the families of which she speaks seldom if ever give so much as fleeting thought to how they came by that for which ironically express gratitude is an unconscionable affront to not only Native Americans, but to the spirit of human decency, itself. Let me quote my friend (she didn’t want her name printed) one more time. “Did I tell you”, she asked, “about my recent visit with an Amish family in Indiana? On very first meeting me, 15 minutes after meeting me, the daughter of the family, with tears in her eyes, said: ‘I am sorry. My family came here for religious freedom, and we have it, and the freedom we have was gotten at the expense of your people and your way of life.’ It was the first time ever, that a non-Native has acknowledged this reality to me without the prompting of liberal guilt and/or out of ‘learned’ political correctness.”

The holiday, in reality, is not of celebration to give appropriate thanks, but an occasion of blatantly displaying gross ingratitude. Frankly, it’s enough to make one wonder, cruel as it sounds, if the original Americans should have let those uninvited squatters starve to death and waited in ambush for every boatload that followed.

As you belly-up to grit down on turkey day, consider an account published by the Associated Press Nov. 8. Descendants of a group of Dakota –who 140 years ago were forced to walk approximately 150 miles from southwestern Minnesota to prison camps in Mankato and Fort Snelling— retraced the walk. About 30 people started the trek on Nov. 7, intending to travel through Morgan, Sleepy, New Ulm, Mankato, Henderson and Shakopee in order to arrive at Fort Snelling, near St. Paul on Nov. 13. Some 1700 men, women and children were removed from the Lower Sioux Agency in November 1862 and marched to the prison camps. After being tried and convicted, more than 3
 

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