The National Day of Mourning stands opposite of the tradition of Thanksgiving and the long-running myths that surround the American holiday. The annual event is largely recognized in the greater New England region and held at Cole’s Hill in Plymouth, Mass.
The National Day of Mourning began due to happenstance after schoolteacher Wamsutta Frank James, who was also the leader of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head, and president of the Federated Eastern Indian League. In 1970, James was invited to deliver a speech for the 350th anniversary of the Mayflower to American shores. Organizers asked to proofread James’ speech, finding that his words were too controversial and axed his appearance.
An amended version of James’ speech appears below:
We forfeited our country. Our lands have fallen into the hands of the aggressor. We have allowed the white man to keep us on our knees. What has happened cannot be changed, but today we must work towards a more humane America, a more Indian America, where men and nature once again are important; where the Indian values of honor, truth, and brotherhood prevail.
You the white man are celebrating an anniversary. We the Wampanoags will help you celebrate in the concept of a beginning. It was the beginning of a new life for the Pilgrims. Now, 350 years later it is a beginning of a new determination for the original American: the American Indian.
The United American Indians of New England (UAINE) has kept the tradition of the National Day of Mourning and while it does focus on the Wampanoag people, it also expands its education and historical notes towards all indigenous peoples in America.
A handful of reactions has been found on Twitter and we share those below.
Our love and respect to all Native peoples from all over.
Learn more by following this link.