By : Dawi Huhamaza
It’s Native American Heritage month. Yippie! Huzzah! Hoka! We have a month all to ourselves where we can display our culture and be proud. In 1990, George Bush Sr. (his administration and himself, of course) designated November as “National American Indian Heritage Month,” but it seems to me only recently have I become aware of it. I don’t remember ever hearing about it growing up in school. But wait a second, why November? November ‘tis the season to misappropriate and indoctrinate people in the legend and myth of the original inhabitants of North America (Turtle Island/Ḳéya Wíta). No-Scalp-November is when young people all across the United States get their “Indian” education, aside from the typical Bering Strait theory-accepted-as-fact bullcrap. Kindergarteners across the nation will be donning their multi-colored construction paper headdresses and brown paper sack buckskin (such indignities I faced at that age in Tennessee), with their faces painted with simple lines of various colors, and learn to war whoop and speak in broken english. Not only must we face these mockeries around Halloween, we have to deal with them in the media and education system for an entire lunar month. Just saw another bar ad today telling people to, “party like a pilgrim and drink like an Indian.”
Thanksgiving has questionable origins to begin with. The myth goes something like this; “The Pilgrims left England to search for a land to be free from religious oppression, and coming to the Americas, had difficulty surviving until the friendly Indian Squanto came along and taught them how to live with the land. Once they learned how to tame the wilderness and dwell here, they held a feast with like, 23 cornucopias, and invited Squanto and all his Indian friends where they played games and made hand turkeys and colored paper headdresses.”
The truth is that the Puritans who showed up at Plymouth Rock, did so in the beginning of Winter in 1620. They weren’t escaping religious persecution, they had left England because they were too radical to dwell there under their own concept of law. Their buddy Squanto, a Patuxet native who had been captured half a decade before, had been taken to England and forced into slavery and brainwashed into Christianity. He eventually came in contact with one of his few English friends he had known in the Americas, and that man sent him back across the Atlantic to his homeland, where none of his people remained. So when he’s wandering around his homeland after the genocide of his own people, he finds “Good Christian Folk” and sets about doing the Lord’s Business in bringing them back to health and acceptable living standards. Squanto helped in creating a truce and treaty with the Wampanoags, and they celebrated this event in what is said to be one of the original thanksgiving celebrations.
As the Puritans wandered around like a bunch of fools, their own Governor commenting on his people’s “notorious sin,” “drunkenness and uncleanliness,” and rampant “sodomy.” They captured Indigenous people and sent them across the Atlantic as slaves. Some 17 years after their arrival, a village of 700 Pequot people who had gathered together for their Green Corn festival were attacked in the dawn hours by the Puritans with their native allies. Many were murdered and those that could be sold as slaves were captured. They celebrated this with another ‘Thanksgiving.’ Shortly thereafter they also executed the leader of the Wampanoag- their allies by treaty, and mounted his head on a pike and left it on display for a quarter of a century.
The second truth is that Thanksgiving is a misappropriated concept from us Natives. We’ve been giving thanks to the Creator and all our helpers since we came here to this world from the stars. It’s not talked about, but us Daḳóta used to have a Green Corn ceremony; much like we always do when we have feasts and ceremonies, we talk to our relatives, the Creator, and we show appreciation and share food with them and each other. The Green Corn ceremony varies between nations and like I said it isn’t something that is done anymore in my nation, another particle of our culture that has been erased by colonialism. Other ceremonies could be described as a thanks-giving, but I am not going to stretch that thought out much further because I feel my point is made.