Yet another way in which -- another day on which -- U.S. Americans do not acknowledge the present-day existance as well as the historical resistance and inordinate suffering of people indigenous to the "Americas."
Since college, on every "Thanksgiving Day," (and Columbus Day), I remember the historical genocidal campaign against people indigenous to "the Americas."
When a well-meaning person wishes me a "Happy Thanksgiving" -- the massacre the mass murder, mass rape, and wholesale land theft committed against indigenous people by so called European "settlers" between the late 1400s and late 1700s -- a genocidal campaign continued by the U.S. government after the "American Revolution" (or "American War of Independence") established it in 1783 -- a genocidal project that culminated in the murder of unarmed Lakota in 1890 at Wounded Knee.
(**I place the term "American War of Independence" in quotes because that war DID NOT translate into independence for everyone -- that was never the war's aim (so why not give it a more honest title... like the "American War to Become the Leaders of Genocide and Slavery," for example). The so called "American War of Independence" did not stop the U.S. government's efforts to supress/repress/entirely strip formal recognition of indigenous people's freedoms and land claims. The so called "American War of Independence" also left slavery intact -- and, in fact, put more concrete, legal protections in place to ensure its continuance in the U.S. Constitution, for example. The so called vision of independence driving this U.S. War did not include extending the francise (voting rights) to white women and poor white & European immigrant men (until president Andrew Jackson recognized their voting rights in the early decades of the 1800s. Granting poor white & Euro. immigrant men a measure of white privilege must be why Jackson's face is on the U.S.'s $20 dollar bill -- and himself was a merciless and vigorous leader of the holocaust against people indigenous to "the Americas"). Nor did the so called "American War of Independence recognize the voting rights and civil rights of "free"(not enslaved) women and men of color. In short, the "American War of Independence" was a military campaign to wrest power from British coloniasts over white U.S. American men -- so that wealthy white U.S. American men could take the place of British imperialists.)
Returning to the subject of Wounded Knee as part and parcel of the U.S. American genocide project:
At Wounded Knee, writes Tim Giago, "...nearly 300 of...[Lakota] relatives were shot to death in cold blood by the enlisted men and officers of the 7th Cavalry. Ironically, 21 members of the 7th Cavalry were awarded Medals of Honor for this horrific slaughter of women and children....
On December 29, 1890, my grandmother, Sophie, was a 17-year-old student at the Holy Rosary Indian Mission, a Jesuit boarding school just a few miles from Wounded Knee. She was called out with the rest of the students to feed and water the horses of the soldiers of the 7th Cavalry that had just rode on to the mission grounds chasing down survivors that had escaped the slaughter. My grandmother recalled seeing blood on their uniforms and she overheard them bragging about the mighty victory they had just scored at Wounded Knee."
I offer this perspective on "Thanksgiving Day" to my students -- they almost always respond with silence. I always wonder what they are thinking. How many of them, I wonder, think I'm crazy and/or an asshole for suggesting that they reject observance of this national holiday. How many of them don't know what to think, but in the end, settle on denial as the most favorable choice. I know that at least a few of them embrace the view -- and at least one of them told me recently that he read a blog that said words like "settlement," "expansion" and "removal" (as in "Indian Removal," for example) mask/conceal the true nature -- the essential reallity -- of the events to which they refer: centuries of genocide -- a holocaust of indigenous people in which ordinary people of all races and national origins -- that is, our ancestors -- directly and indirectly participated in/ carried out and/or directly and indirectly benefited from.
A holocaust that you and I continue to benefit from in the present day.
As the homes in which we sleep, the shopping malls we visit, the schools we attend, the churches in which we worship, the parks in which we picnic rests on stolen land...
Land soaked in the blood of indigenous people that resisted genocide --- a land on which a fraction of that population continue to unconsciously resist just by surviving and consciously resist through the unrelenting pursuit of social, political and economic justice (-- an estimated 90% of the indigenous population depleted as a result of European/U.S. American genocide).
So, most of the time -- I tell the person who wishes me "Happy Thanksgiving" that I'm not into the "Thanksgiving" thing and I offer a quick explanation of why that is -- I can't celebrate national denial of mass murder, mass rape and land theft in the form of a holiday and a family meal -- I mean think about that...
A celebration of food and family where one gives thanks for benefits reaped from mass murder, mass rape and land theft??
Another blogger declared, "Happy Thanksgiving! Pass the genocide gravy."
(I'm not feeling the representation of indigenous people in this cartoon but I appreciate the point of the blog post)
Most of the time, the person will reply to me by saying something to the effect of "yeah, I know, that's why I just 'give thanks' for family (etc etc)"
For many years the aforementioned response from these good people sat well with me. For a few years I may have even uttered a version of those words mySelf.
This year, though.. I finally got it (or came close to getting it).
The very act of asserting one's ability to ignore or overlook or attempt to overcome. the centuries of atrocities the "Thanksgiving Holiday" commemorates and denies and commercializes -- is the very manifestation of the privileges wrought by the near annihilation of indigenous people.
Fuck that -- you can keep that Kool-Aid.
Yesterday, I wondered (just as I have many times before) -- what do indigenous people living on and off reservations do on "Thanksgiving Day"... do they give thanks? If yes, what do they give thanks for?
Tim Wise's superb blog post addresses the subject of U.S. American holocaust denial from another angle here.