THE AFTERMATH OF THE FIRST THANKSGIVING
Malcom Lagauche | November 14, 2010
This is the time of the year when we are inundated with propaganda about the U.S. holiday, Thanksgiving. Recently, the History Channel showed its rendition. The same old story: weary Pilgrims were taught how to plant crops in the new land of America by some savvy Native Americans. Then, to thank the Indians and God, the Pilgrims held a celebration in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Everybody had a great time. This was brotherhood among human beings at its best. Then, the documentary went forward in time to the 18th century. What happened between 1621 and 1675 was completely ignored. Most U.S. history books rarely mention the fate of the Indians who helped the Pilgrims survive.
Growing up in the U.S., I was told that we should be thankful and Thanksgiving is the time for this. School teacher-after-school teacher told their students to “thank God” for what they had. There was never any thought or consideration whether the students did not believe in God. God was always present and had to be thanked once a year.
In the sixth grade, I had the audacity to ask the teacher, “What about poor people? Should they be thankful?” I got my ass reamed for making such a flippant inquiry. “Poor people especially have to be thankful,” I was told. “God works in mysterious ways.” I did not have the nerve to tell her I did not believe in God.
In my 12 years of schooling in Rhode Island and Fall River, Massachusetts, I was taught nothing about Native American culture of the area, except at Thanksgiving. In grammar school, it was obligatory for students to create a drawing with Crayola crayons that depicted the first Thanksgiving: some weary, but benevolent white settlers mingling with Native Americans over a feast. The Indians always looked savage and the whites so civilized.
We also were told that turkey was the main fare for the feast, but again we were told another lie. Fish and small fowl, along with native vegetables, some of which the Pilgrims were unaware, adorned the menu.
The Wampanoag Indians, under Chief Massasoit, welcomed the Pilgrims to Massachusetts and provided food for what we now call the first Thanksgiving. The goodwill between the two peoples lasted only a short time, however.
Eventually, Metacomet (Anglicized name, Philip), Massasoit’s son, became chief after his father’s death. During the time of the new regime, the Puritans were launching a land-grab from the Indians and were hostile toward the Natives, who had benevolently given them the rights to thousands of acres of land while asking for nothing in return.
When Metacomet called “foul,” the Puritans upped the ante. He approached the governing authorities of the Puritans and complained that they were encroaching on Indian land and stealing their crops. When a court met, it was run by three Puritain judges who negated the complaints of Metacomet and then ordered the Indians to be disarmed. That was the last straw for the Indian leader.
Over the next few years, tensions rose with Indians and Puritans alike being killed in raids. The more the Puritans encroached, the more the Indians resisted.
In 1675, all-out war began. The name given to the war was King Philip’s War. Maybe it should have been the Puritan War, but history has been unkind to the Natives.
In the beginning, Metacomet’s forces were dominating. At one time, the Puritans were pushed back and were discussing going back to England. But, the Natives began running out of food. Their demise was at hand.
Within two years, most of the proud Wampanoag Indians were massacred. A nation that included more than 30,000 people with highly-organized governments and social structures became a shabby band of no more than 2,000 Indians at the end of the war. They were ordered into slavery. Until this day, they have never recovered. The descendants of the Wampanoags of the 17th century live today in southeastern Massachusetts and most live in poverty.
Metacomet was killed when the Puritans paid an Indian informant to spy on him and report his location. The turncoat Indian was the person who pulled the trigger and murdered Metacomet. His body parts were put on public display throughout the region. Within six decades of landing at Plymouth Rock, the whites had forever destroyed a culture that had inhabited the area for thousands of years prior to the arrival of the Mayflower.
One of Metacomet’s strongest allies was the Pocasset tribe, who went to war with the Wampanoag. The Pocassets were led by Weetamoe, a fierce warrior who held an unbending allegiance from her tribal members. When the Puritans turned the corner in the war, she fled and drowned trying to swim across the Taunton River. Like Matacomet, her body was cut into pieces and parts were displayed at various venues in southern New England.
The legacy of Metacomet should be that of America’s first resistance hero. However, few Native Americans have been given credit in U.S. history for acts of bravery, so he is still listed in our history books as a belligerent Indian who began a war against the civilized Anglos. According to white history, he was the perpetrator of the war, not the victim.
In 1675, the Boston Indian Imprisonment Act was established. It ordered the arrest of any Indian entering the city. To this day, the law is still on the books.
Despite living in a town where Native American names abound, (Pocasset School, Conanicus Street, Nonquit Pond, Sakonnet River, Quechechan River, and many others) in 12 years of school, nothing was mentioned about the origins of these monikers. Only within the last few years have I discovered that from the front porch of my house, looking across Mount Hope Bay, I could see the exact location of the murder of Metacomet in what is today’s Bristol, Rhode Island.
A tribal leader of the Kumeyaay Nation of southern California once told me that the two most sorrowful days of the year for Native Americans are Columbus Day and Thanksgiving. He could not understand why U.S. citizens in this day and age still celebrate the two days of Native American catastrophe with all the knowledge that has been forthcoming in the past few decades about the Native American holocaust.
Each year, at Plymouth, a mock Thanksgiving feast is held for the public to view. The clothing and the food are meant to be identical to those of the original Thanksgiving. A couple of years ago, the script for this event had to be re-written. Members of the Wampanoag tribe, who normally participate, decided to boycott the show. They have had enough.
Native American resistance leader Metacomet
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November 15, 2010 - Posted by aletho | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | History Channel, Massachusetts, Metacomet, Native American, Native Americans in the United States, Thanksgiving, Wampanoag people
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