For many, Thanksgiving signifies the dark shadow of genocide and native people's perseverance, rather than a celebration of peace and shared wealth between Native American tribes and Pilgrims.
“We want to educate people so that they understand the stories we all learned in school about the first Thanksgiving are nothing but lies. Wampanoag and other Indigenous people have certainly not lived happily ever after since the arrival of the Pilgrims,” said Kisha James, an Aquinnah Wampanoag and Oglala Lakota tribal member and the granddaughter of the event's originator, Wamsutta Frank James.
Thanksgiving dates back to the early 17th century when Pilgrims from Europe and Native Americans gathered to share in the bounty of fall, a festival of goodwill before the impending extermination.
“To us, Thanksgiving is a day of mourning, because we remember the millions of our ancestors who were murdered by uninvited European colonists such as the Pilgrims. Today, we and many Indigenous people around the country say, ‘No Thanks, No Giving.'”
As a result, several organizations in New England marked the anniversary as a sorrowful day to raise awareness about the historical process, as they have done since 1970.
Before walking through downtown Plymouth's historical area, participants will beat drums, deliver prayers, and protest what organizers call "the unfair system founded on racism, settler colonialism, misogyny, homophobia, and profit-driven devastation of the Earth."
The chairman of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council, Brian Moskwetah Weeden, claimed on Boston Public Radio earlier this week that Americans owe his tribe a duty of gratitude for helping the Pilgrims survive their first harsh winter.
“People need to understand that you need to be thankful each and every day — that was how our ancestors thought and navigated this world,” Weeden said. “Because we were thankful, we were willing to share … and we had good intentions and a good heart.”