I question how many people understand what they are celebrating as Americans gather around tables adorned with the bodies of the victims of this year’s nonhuman genocide. The following article explains in good detail what Thanksgiving Day truly commemorates. Although it is a bit lengthy, I encourage everyone to read it in its entirety, both for the historical content and the fact that the real authenticity only comes into focus when the essay ends. -Camille
Eagle Warrior and Dennis Banks (one of the founders of AIM)
“This pathetic excuse for a holiday is celebrated over the carcass of a once living, breathing being that wanted to live and had as much right to life as the savages carving its tortured body. Hopefully, all who so dine will soon come down with the maladies and illnesses well-documented to be associated with eating sentient creatures.”
by Louis Eagle Warrior
As history teaches us, the greatest conflicts and the bloodiest wars throughout time have been waged because of belief systems and boundaries. We can trace this from the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition through Hitler to the various”ethnic cleansing” that go on around the world. This mentality does not tolerate differing political, social and religious beliefs, and it does not hesitate to seize another’s land and property if it suits a purpose.
It was the custom in European countries to mark the boundaries of land with fences ranging from palisades to low rock walls. Once word spread throughout Europe and Spain about this land called The Americas, which was wild, untamed and unclaimed, this new territory became a safe haven for outlaws, prisoners, exiles, and the radical element of politics, social structure and religious practices – the violent and the non-conformists.
Even though the first explorers and early settlers had been warned about the “heathen savages” found in the “New World”, they found the First Peoples of this land curious about these strange people, and more than willing to teach them how to survive and live well in their new surroundings.
The flow of people into this country was slow in the beginning and, even though there was the occasional hothead among the newcomers, life was generally a peaceful co-existence for almost 150 years. However, as the trickle of settlers turned into a steady river, the atmosphere began to change.
In 1614, a band of English explorers landed in the vicinity of Massachusetts Bay. When they returned home, they took with them Native slaves they had captured, leaving smallpox behind.
By the time the Puritan pilgrims sailed the Mayflower into southern Massachusetts Bay, entire nations of New England Natives were already extinct, having been totally exterminated by European derived and induced smallpox and other diseases. The Puritans were religious radicals being driven into exile out of England.
They settled and built a colony which they called the “Plymouth Plantation”, near the ruins of a former Native village of the Pawtuxet Nation. Only one Pawtuxet survived, a man named Squanto. He had spent time as a slave to the English. Since he understood the language and customs of the Puritans, he taught them to use the corn growing wild from the abandoned fields of the village, taught them to fish, and about the foods, herbs and fruits of this land. Squanto also negotiated a peace treaty between the Puritans and the Wampanoag Nation, a very large Native nation which totally surrounded the new Plymouth Plantation.
Because of Squanto’s efforts, the Puritans enjoyed almost 15 years of peaceful harmony with the surrounding Natives, and they prospered. At the end of their first year, the Puritans held a great feast following the harvest of their new farming efforts. The feast honored Squanto and their friends, the Wampanoags. The feast was followed by 3 days of “thanksgiving” celebrating their good fortune. This feast produced the image of the first Thanksgiving that we all grew up with as children. Things were, however, doomed to change.
Until approximately 1629, there were only about 300 Puritans living in widely scattered settlements around New England. As word leaked back to England about their peaceful and prosperous life, more Puritans arrived by the boatloads. As the numbers of Puritans grew, the question of ownership of the land became a major issue. The Puritans came from the belief of individual needs and prosperity, and had no concept of tribal living, or group sharing. It was clear that these “heathen savages” had no claim on the land because it had never been subdued, cultivated and farmed in the European manner, and there were no fences or other boundaries marked. The land was clearly “public domain”, and there for the taking. This attitude met with great resistance from the original Puritans who did hold their Native benefactors in high regard.
These first Puritan settlers were summarily excommunicated and expelled from the church. With Bible passages in their hands to justify their every move, the Puritans began their march inland from the seaside communities. Joined by British settlers, the seized land, took the strong and young Natives as slaves to work the land, and killed the rest.
When they reached the Connecticut Valley around 1633, they met a different type of force. The Pequot Nation, very large and very powerful, had never entered into the peace treaty negotiated by Squanto as had other New England Native nations. When two slave raiders were killed by resisting Natives, the Puritans demanded that the killers be turned over. The Pequot refused. What followed was the Pequot War, the bloodiest of the Native wars in the northeast.
An army of over 200 settlers was formed. Because of the lack of fighting experience, and the vast numbers of the fierce Pequot warriors, Commander John Mason elected not to stage an open battle. Instead, the Pequot were attacked, one village at a time, in the hours before dawn. Each village was set on fire with its sleeping Natives burned alive. Women and children over 14 were captured to be sold as slaves; other survivors were massacred. The Natives were sold into slavery in The West Indies, the Azures, Spain, Algiers and England; everywhere the Puritan merchants traded.
The slave trade was so lucrative that boatloads of 500 at a time left the harbors of New England. In 1641, the Dutch governor of Manhattan offered the first scalp bounty; a common practice in many European countries. This was broadened by the Puritans to include a bounty for Natives fit to be sold for slavery. The Dutch and Puritans joined forces to exterminate all Natives from New England, and village after village fell. Following an especially successful raid against the Pequot in what is now Stamford, Connecticut, the churches announced a day of “thanksgiving” to celebrate victory over the “heathen savages.” This was the 2nd Thanksgiving.
Americans still believe that Thanksgiving celebrates a bountiful harvest, but that is not so. By 1970, the Wampanoag had turned up a copy of a Thanksgiving proclamation made by the governor to the colony. The text revealed the ugly truth: After a colonial militia had returned from murdering the men, women, and children of an Indian village, the governor proclaimed a holiday and feast to give thanks for the massacre. He also encouraged other colonies to do likewise – in other words, every autumn after the crops are in, go kill Indians and celebrate your murders with a feast.
During the feasting, the hacked off heads of Natives were kicked through the streets of Manhattan like soccer balls. The killing took on frenzy, with days of thanksgiving being held after each successful massacre. Even the friendly Wampanoag did not escape. Their chief was beheaded, and his head placed on a pole in Plymouth, Massachusetts — where it remained for 24 years.
Each town held thanksgiving days to celebrate their own victories over the Natives until it became clear that there needed to be an order to these special occasions. It was George Washington who finally brought a system and a schedule to thanksgiving when he declared one day to be celebrated across the nation as Thanksgiving Day.
Finally, and repeating my reply to someone in my first t’giving post below – Besides the detriment to health due to eating turkey and all animals, and its toll on the environment, the abject cruelty of the animals for food industry is well known these days.
This means ergo, all who support this industry, who buy dead turkeys and eat them suffer from some form of psychopathy.
Louis Eagle Warrior is a member of the Lenape Indian nation. In addition to authoring two books, he is an accomplished public speaker and musician. He has been an outspoken animal advocate all his life & vegan for 29 years, he founded the Animal Liberation Network in 1988, and believes all forms of animal exploitation must be stopped now and be stopped by any and all means: “Whatever we can get away with is justifiable.”