Native Thanksgiving 2-Pack
The historical lens through which national holidays are viewed is often blurred and distorted. Thanksgiving is a case in point. The much-revered Pilgrims fresh off the Mayflower sat down and shared native foods with the friendly Wampanoags. A heart-warming story. But this idea of the gift-giving Indian, helping to establish and enrich what would become the United States, is a myth. Native Americans would soon be overwhelmed and killed en masse by white settlers. Those that survived the murderous campaigns against them were relegated to inhospitable reservations. Indian land was stolen fair and square. Today we honor the memory of the slaughtered with Apache and Black Hawk helicopters, Jeep Cherokees, the Washington Redskins and calling bin Laden, Geronimo. Native Americans are offended by the appropriation of their culture. It is the final stage of genocide.
For years the indigenous peoples of the U.S., after having been dispersed and decimated and relegated to reservations, were reduced to caricatures. We all knew Indians and their culture. There was the familiar medicine man, the trading post, Geronimo and Crazy Horse, papooses and squaws, tepees and tomahawks, war dances and war parties. Tonto was the epitome of faithfulness and subservience. The formation and rise of the American Indian Movement, AIM, in the late 1960s and early 1970s did much to break down conventional stereotypes. AIM, through its actions at Wounded Knee, Alcatraz, Mount Rushmore and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, demonstrated that Native Americans could and would fight back against racism and oppression.
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Interviewed by David Barsamian.