“Misgivings:” An Afrikan-centered, Indigenous-centered View By Mama Marimba Ani
A group of European scavengers, many of whom had been imprisoned or homeless in England, arrived in New England in 1620. They first lived on Turtle Island. Half of them died within the first few months. Squanto, of the Pequot people, who had been enslaved by the Europeans and taken to England, spoke English and formed a “close” relationship with these “pitiful” migrants. He taught them how to grow corn and to fish, how to prepare certain foods, and other survival skills. The white people “saw Squanto as an instrument of their god to help his chosen people.” In other words, they used him. To them, he and his people were “heathens” and “savages”. The world view of the indigenous peoples, much like the Afrikan world view, taught them “to give freely to those who had nothing.” Squanto is said to have negotiated a false “treaty” between the nearby Wampanoag and the “pilgrims”. The leader of the Wampanoag Nation, Massasoit, donated food stores to the struggling colony of Europeans. In 1621, having survived a hard winter, due to the help of the Wampanoag, the Europeans celebrated, as was their custom to have “thanksgivings” to their god. No Wampanoag or members of any other indigenous nations were invited. And yet, they came and supplied most of the food. In return for helping them to survive, the “pilgrims” decimated the Wampanoag through disease, treachery and slaughter, in the years which followed. By 1637, as the Europeans were feeling successful, more powerful and in control of their newly conquered territory, an expedition was sent to Connecticut, near Groton. Over 700 Indigenous peoples (Pequot) were celebrating their yearly harvest (Annual Green Corn Festival), when they were taken by surprise by the white invaders. Their men were shot and clubbed to death, while their women and children were burned alive. Winthrop, the first governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony, proclaimed a “day of thanksgiving,” saying that they should thank god for destroying the savages to make way for “a better growth.” (quoted in the work of Cotton Mather) What followed constitutes one of the most vicious records of continuing massacres of the indigenous people of this land now known as “America.” It became the custom of the whites to follow each massacre with a “thanksgiving.” Rewards would be given to those who returned with the skulls of indigenous peoples to encourage their slaughter. In 1863, it was decided to “celebrate” only one day of “thanksgiving,” proclaimed by Abraham Lincoln. At a later period, the 4th Thursday of November was chosen by the capitalists, to maximize the shopping days until christmas.
In 1970, at the 350th anniversary of the landing of the pilgrims, a leader of Indigenous peoples prepared a speech in which he told the true history of Plymouth, and berated the white people for robbing the graves of the Wampanoag. The officials of Massachusetts did not allow him to make the speech. Every year since then, Indigenous people of this land have looked upon the 4th Thursday of November as a day of mourning. (See Russell Means, Susan Bates, and Jaqueline Keeler, for more information.)
We, Afrikan people in america, are victims of the same process that resulted in the murder of millions of Indigenous people and the decimation of their Nations. “america was built by stolen labor on stolen land!” (Bro. D)
That is the legacy of europeans in this country.
Taking without “thanks”; Taking without Giving is “Exploitation”!
Change is not easy. We are use to celebrating with our families on this day. It is always so good to come together and to share a meal with each other. But we do have alternatives. And we always need to be in the process of growth. Growth makes change necessary. We can change a little at a time, remembering that our goal is Sovereignty.
1. When you are with your family on Thursday, November 27, 2014, take a moment to remember and talk about the true meaning of this “holy day”
2. We don’t have to contribute to the profit-making mania organized by the large conglomerates encouraging us to spend money that we don’t have during the weekend following that day. Don’t shop!
3. Make the sacrifice of fasting on that day. Yes, it will be a challenge, but you can still enjoy your family and at the same time identify with those who were exploited, murdered, and raped of their resources, as we have been. (This is not a cause for celebration.)
4. Let us choose a day on which the Pan-Afrikan World Nation gives thanks together for the gift of Afrikan Ancestry, and the sacrifices that have been made for us by our Ancestors! We can start small, with the Afrikans that we know.
It is a process. Let’s begin it now!
In Afrikan Victory and Sovereignty, Mama Marimba Ani