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Wampanoag Thanksgiving

November 15, 2013 , ,

Since last November I have visited my ancestral homeland at Plimouth Colony in Massachusetts.  The museum and displays helped me to more vividly picture what those Pilgrims were doing in the 1600s.  I have many ancestors who arrived on the Mayflower, and I am not overly impressed with that fact. I am, however, truly grateful to learn that I am Wampanoag.  I study history by learning about my family tree.  Thanksgiving, as taught in elementary school, has very little to do with the real events that took place at the time.  There was a feast and celebration, and there was a great deal of unease about these English people who built a fort around their town and put cannons on the second story of their church.  These Pilgrims, who are depicted to children as seeking religious freedom, only believed in religious freedom for themselves.  They had been repressed in Holland for their beliefs and wanted a place where their somewhat radical thinking would not clash with any royal Euros.  They did not propose to extend religious freedom and tolerance to the native people they encountered in America.  They proposed to convert them to Christianity, their own style of Christianity.

Thomas Dudley

Thomas Dudley

Harvard was endowed and sustained in business by conversion of native people.  The Indian College was used to educate and convert natives.  If they had not come up with donations based on this premise, Harvard may never have become the institution it is today.  My tenth great grandfather Thomas Dudley signed the charter for Harvard because he was the colonial governor when it opened.  His daughter and my 9th great grandmother, Anne Bradstreet, was a poet and wife of Simon Bradstreet, also a colonial governor.

Harvard College Charter

Harvard College Charter

I am not as proud of them as I am of Quadequina.  I have taken sides in the Thanksgiving story.  I think the Pilgrims were rude to say the least.  We build it up as a story about peace and religion, but it was a story of imperialism.  When I learned that all the historic wampum belts have gone to England to be kept in museums I became angry.  A very cool Wampanoag elder who worked at Plimouth gave me some very wise advise about that.  She told me there was no point in being angry about the past.  She is obviously correct, but my feelings have changed about history, Massachusetts Colony and all that it meant, and the fable of Thanksgiving.  There is more bitterness that the peach pie reveals.  It makes me wonder exactly how my tribe feels when they celebrate this holiday.  It looks like the tribe may open a casino on Martha’s Vineyard.  It is fair to give them access to the wealth and the weakness of the white people on that island.  There is plenty for everyone.  Turn about is fair play, even if it comes hundreds of years later.

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comments

Having some native roots myself, both of this country and another,I too can sway when it comes to some holiday/traditions. Being non-caucasian, I recognize the exploitation of my heritage/race. Recently, we drove to/through an area declared a native reservation. I knew a casino had been added some few years ago, but never having gone I was interested. Let’s just say, I was disgusted in my heart in ways I didn’t know were possible. The continuous exploitation of the people, their culture, their traditions was truly heartbreaking. Hun and I discussed our observations and feelings regarding (which I haven’t fully processed, I’m sure) this area – the people are bought, sold, and paid for in such a way that they still cannot climb out/away from the initial destruction of themselves and their culture, so it continues in an endless cycle. In other words, there’s not really any money making to be had 😦

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Life Breath Present

November 15, 2013

I am not a fan of casinos, native or Nevada; I freak right out at the ease with which most people are exploited. In the Bahamas the citizens are not allowed to gamble, which seems like the way to go. For me, I would get rid of them all, but they are a fact of life and commerce. In Arizona and New Mexico I like the tribes that will never go for it like Zuni and Hopi. I don’t believe the Navaho will ever do it either.

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mermaidcamp

November 15, 2013

I understand. I don’t fully “get” the whole gambling casino thing. I suppose it’s a form of commerce, but my argument is that it’s commerce that not only plays on people’s weaknesses and false sense of achievement, but that even if caucasians work in them, they’re exploited.

I completely agree that ease with which any peoples are exploited is, frankly, abhorrent.

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Life Breath Present

November 15, 2013

I freaked out a few years ago to notice that slot machines talk to people now. It is sad.

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mermaidcamp

November 15, 2013

Oh wow! That is sad. It’s heartbreakingly sad how easy and abundant this gambling/casino thing is. I see that ‘industry’ as another way to sell (mostly) elusive dreams to people and then watch them fall. 😦

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Life Breath Present

November 16, 2013

History is as it is written and as it has been retold. No different than today’s journalism. Future generations will get a skewed view of our time.

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apcpostallogistics

November 16, 2013

How could that be? We have twitter

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mermaidcamp

November 16, 2013

This looks pretty darn COOL!! I bet that would be really fun!

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Stevie Wilson (@LAStory)

November 17, 2013

fascinating post pam for someone who doesn’t come from this part of the world or have visited.

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London-Unattached.com

November 17, 2013

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