Saturday, November 30, 2013

Does Thanksgiving Celebrate the American Holocaust?

At one time, approximately four centuries ago, prior to the Europeans arriving, there were anywhere from 19 to 100 million indigenous peoples populating the western hemisphere. By 1970, there were only 250,000. What happened to those people? They were systematically eliminated over hundreds of years.

Yet, we continue to celebrate Thanksgiving, based on the mythological fantasy--created by American expansionists--of America, the "shining city upon a hill," who because of its special virtues, was destined to redeem and remake the west, and now, apparently, the world. According to former the Chairman of the  Anthropology department at University of Connecticut, William B. Newell, Thanksgiving Day is historically based on gratitude for genocide.

William B. Newell, a Penobscot Indian and former chairman of the Anthropology department at the University of Connecticut, says that the first official Thanksgiving Day celebrated the massacre of 700 Indian men, women and children during one of their religious ceremonies. "Thanksgiving Day" was first proclaimed by the Governor of the then Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1637 to commemorate the massacre of 700 men, women and children who were celebrating their annual Green Corn Dance...Thanksgiving Day to the, "in their own house", Newell stated.

"Gathered in this place of meeting, they were attacked by mercenaries and English and Dutch. The Indians were ordered from the building and as they came forth were shot down, The rest were burned alive in the building-----The very next day the governor declared a Thanksgiving Day.....For the next 100 years, every Thanksgiving Day ordained by a Governor was in honor of the bloody victory, thinking God that the battle had been won."

In June 1637 John Underhill slaughtered a pequot village in just the manner described above. Narranganset Indians were used as the mercenaries. Governor John Endicott of the Massachusetts Bay Colony proclaimed the pequot war. A pequot chief of sachem named sassacus warred against the Dutch in 1633 over the death of his father. The pequot made no distinction between the Dutch and the English. The Underhill massacre was witnessed and documented by William Branford and an engraving was made illustration the massacre.

The Jamestown Colony may be the source for the tradition of Indians under the leadership of Powhaton joining with early settlers for a dinner and helping those settlers through the winter. There were no pilgrims of puritans at Jamestown, however. The present Thanksgiving may therefore be a mixture of the tradition of the Jamestown dinner and the commemoration of the Pequot massacre.

The celebration of Thanksgiving as an official holiday possibly roots in the Pequot massacre, while the imagery is of Jamestown with pilgrims, images misused. ”
Even before the concept of Manifest Destiny was put into words, it provided the justification for the largest genocide in history, which raises the question of why we focus so much on the holocaust that took place in Germany during WWII, and not at all on the holocaust that occurred right here, and continues on to the present. Could one of the reasons be that the remaining Native Americans aren't as well funded as the Jewish population? Maybe it's because Hitler applied much of what he learned about the way we dealt with the indigenous people in order to create Nazi Germany, as he did when he studied the plans of Bosque Redondo to design the concentration camps for Jews.

After all, Joanelle Romero, who began putting this film (below), narrated by Ed Asner, together in 1995, originally intended it to be 90 minutes, but due to a lack of funding, this 29 minute version, released in 2001, is all that's been completed, and is quite possibly the only film of its kind.
Hitler's concept of concentration camps as well as the practicality of genocide owed much, so he claimed, to his studies of English and United States history. He admired the camps for Boer prisoners in South Africa and for the Indians in the wild west; and often praised to his inner circle the efficiency of America's extermination—by starvation and uneven combat—of the red savages who could not be tamed by captivity.

He was very interested in the way the Indian population had rapidly declined due to epidemics and starvation when the United States government forced them to live on the reservations. He thought the American government's forced migrations of the Indians over great distances to barren reservation land was a deliberate policy of extermination. Just how much Hitler took from the American example of the destruction of the Indian nations is hard to say; however, frightening parallels can be drawn. For some time Hitler considered deporting the Jews to a large 'reservation' in the Lubin area where their numbers would be reduced through starvation and disease." -- John Toland, Adolf Hitler: The Definitive Biography p. 202



All the societies in the Americas, with very few exceptions, were built on genocide, on the blood of the indigenous people. People were wiped out… We live under a state of systemic racism. In the United States and Canada you can’t have open discrimination against us anymore such as they had 30-40 years ago but we are still not viewed as equals in these societies and we are not treated as equals, and we are still seen by the vast majority of the people here, because of lack the lack of education, as people that came from barbarous tribes, savage tribes and not as people who came from civilized a community.” -- Dr. Daniel N. Paul, a Mi’kmaq Elder and an Indian Historian
Links:

THE SUPPRESSED SPEECH OF WAMSUTTA (FRANK B.) JAMES, WAMPANOAG: To have been delivered at Plymouth, Massachusetts, 1970

United Native America

American Indian Library Association

Gathering of Nations

The American Indian Heritage Foundation

Navajo Code Talkers: World War II Fact Sheet

2 comments:

Hank44,  18:55  

Don't forget about Columbus. In 1493, when Columbus returned to the Hispaniola, he quickly implemented policies of slavery and mass extermination of the Taino population of the Caribbean. Within 3 years, 5 million were dead.

Las Casas is the primary historian of the Columbian era, and he writes of many accounts of the horrors that the Spanish colonists inflicted upon the indigenous population: hanging them en mass, hacking their children into pieces to be used as dog feed, and other cruelties just as horrific as what happened to the Jews in Germany. Of course, Las Casas is omitted from American history books and courses.

Expansion of the European colonies after Columbus led to similar genocides. "Indian Removal" policy was put into action to clear the land for white settlers. Methods for the removal included slaughter of villages by the military and also biological warfare. High death rates resulted from forced marches to relocate the Indians.

The Removal Act of 1830 set into motion a series of events which led to the "Trail of Tears" in 1838, a forced march of the Cherokees, resulting in the destruction of most of the Cherokee population.

Then the discovery of gold in California in 1848 resulted in further American migration and expansion. In California, the Indian population decreased from about a quarter of a million to less than 20,000, because of the cruelty of miners. In addition, one of the most substantial methods was the destruction of flora and fauna which the American Indians used for food and a variety of other purposes, and one of the most ruinous acts was the disappearance of the buffalo because the Indians depended on the buffalo herds. The end result was widescale starvation and the social and cultural disintegration the people. 95% reduction in population. If that's not genocide, I don't know what is.

Roth's stepchild 19:07  

The sad thing is that it still goes on today. According to the film, within the last 40 years, 12,000 Navajo were forced to relocate to contaminated desert lands, downstream from the largest radiation spill in American history. The reason for forced relocation: the discover of the largest coal deposits ever found in North America. John McCain authored the relocation bill, called the 1974 Navajo-Hopi Settlement Act.

http://www.culturalsurvival.org/publications/cultural-survival-quarterly/united-states/historical-overview-navajo-relocation

"More than 100 years later, Navajo people, or Dineh as they call themselves, once again are being removed from their ancestral homelands; their livestock are being seized, they are being harassed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and denied the right to repair their dwellings or build new homes. Why another forced relocation? The Navajo are once again in the way of westward expansion, this time in the form of energy resources development."

Thanks for the comment!

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