If you miss it on Thursday, the livestream and prerecorded content will be put up at our website some time after Thursday. We're not sure exactly which day, but it will be well worth watching!
National Day of Mourning
Since 1970, Native Americans and our supporters have gathered at noon on Cole's Hill in Plymouth to commemorate a
National Day of Mourning on the US thanksgiving holiday. Many Native Americans do not celebrate the arrival of the
Pilgrims and other European settlers. Thanksgiving day is a reminder of the genocide of millions of Native people, the
theft of Native lands, and the relentless assault on Native culture. Participants in National Day of Mourning honor
Native ancestors and the struggles of Native peoples to survive today. It is a day of remembrance and spiritual
connection as well as a protest of the racism and oppression which Native Americans continue to experience.
51st Annual National Day of Mourning November 26, 2020
Coles Hill, Plymouth, MA
ORIENTATION FOR 50th ANNIVERSARY NATIONAL DAY OF MOURNING 11.26.20
WHAT IS NATIONAL DAY OF MOURNING?
An annual tradition since 1970, Day of Mourning is a solemn, spiritual and highly political day. Many of us fast from sundown the day before through the afternoon of that day (and have a social after Day of Mourning so that participants in DOM can break their fasts). We are mourning our ancestors and the genocide of our peoples and the theft of our lands. NDOM is a day when we mourn, but we also feel our strength in action. Over the years, participants in Day of Mourning have buried Plymouth Rock a number of times, boarded the Mayflower replica, and placed ku klux klan sheets on the statue of William Bradford, etc.
WHEN AND WHERE IS DAY OF MOURNING?
Thursday, November 26, 2020 (U.S. "thanksgiving" day) at Cole's Hill, Plymouth, Massachusetts, 12 noon SHARP. Cole's Hill is the hill above Plymouth Rock in the Plymouth historic waterfront area.
WILL THERE BE A MARCH?
Yes, there will be a march through the historic district of Plymouth. Plymouth agreed, as part of the settlement of 10/19/98, that UAINE may march on National Day of Mourning without the need for a permit as long as we give the town advance notice.
Although we very much welcome our non-Native supporters to stand with us, it is a day when only Indigenous people speak about our history and the struggles that are taking place throughout the Americas. Speakers will be by invitation only. This year's NDOM will have livestreaming from Plymouth as well as messages from Indigenous struggles in many homelands!
Please note that NDOM is not a commercial event, so we ask that people do not sell merchandise or distribute leaflets at the outdoor program. Also, we ask that you do not eat (unless you must do so for medical reasons) at the outdoor speak-out and march out of respect for the participants who are fasting. Finally, dress for the weather!
There will be NO pot-luck social this year due to COVID-19.
We have discouraged buses and carpooling this year due to COVID. If you cannot get to Plymouth, you can watch online!
Monetary donations are gratefully accepted to help defray the costs of the day and of UAINE’s many other efforts during the year: 2020-2021 GoFundMe Fundraiser
Please join and check the UAINE facebook group for updates on National Day of Mourning this year. Our UAINE website uaine.org will be updated, but not as quickly or frequently.
COVID-19 has hit Indigenous communities very hard, and we want to ensure that no one gets sick from attending National Day of Mourning. Everyone must wear a mask covering their mouth and nose – no exceptions!
Greetings my relatives, friends, loved ones, and supporters.
First of all, I want to thank you for the privilege of being allowed to express my feelings about this “Day of Mourning” as we call it, and “Day of Thanksgiving” as the rest of the US calls it. Sometimes I’m at a loss for words to express all the thoughts I have going on in my head after 45 years of imprisonment.
I do want to express my appreciation for our ancestors before us, who fought so hard that we would live today. I want to express my feelings of remembrance for the ones who were overpowered by the weapons of war coming from Europe and the pandemics they faced. Though we have been attacked by the invaders from Europe, over and over in every way possible, and everything that has been done to destroy us, our culture, and traditions, we still survived until today because we are an expression of the Creator’s Will and an expression of the Creator’s Truth. We are a manifestation of that truth, that all mankind should live within the boundaries of those laws.
There is nothing that came from Europe that has made this portion of the Earth a better place to live, but like all nature, we have survived, and nature continues to survive, though mankind is on the edge of destroying itself. The truths that our people spoke of, the need to live in harmony with each other, the Creator, the Mother Earth, and respect one another’s’ approach to spirituality, when expressed by non-Indians becomes a sensation around the world. We must continue to speak our truth, to live our truth, and to support one another, for there lies our survival. The most powerful weapons that we can obtain is knowledge of truth and love for one another, and the practice of that truth and love.
We must unite and work together every chance we can and embrace all others who are of like-mind and willing to work to correct this worldwide pandemic of greed and selfishness that has infected the whole earth and mankind.
On this Day of Mourning, let us again remember our relatives before us, who fought every challenge imaginable that we might survive, and in our prayers say “Thanks for not giving up. Thanks for giving your lives that we might live.” And to all of you out there, I want to say thanks for not giving up on me and my quest for freedom. May the Creator bless you in every way. You brother always, in all ways.
In the Spirit of Crazy Horse and Resistance,
In addition to National Day of Mourning and supporting many other important struggles, UAINE works with other
organizations to do lots more!
Indigenous Peoples Day MA
UAINE is providing leadership in the work of IndigenousPeoplesDayMA.org, which has been providing support and strategy for Indigenous Peoples
Day campaigns in Massachusetts. Successful campaigns have included Cambridge, Brookline, and more, and we also have a
bill before the state legislature. See the website IndigenousPeoplesDayMA.org for more information!
Massachusetts Indigenous Legislative Agenda
UAINE is also a key component of the Massachusetts Indigenous Legislative Agenda, which consolidates the efforts of
those working on five important bills involving Indigenous issues that are currently before the MA legislature to make
a statewide Indigenous Peoples Day, Prohibit the use of Native sports team names and Mascots, Redesign the State Flag
& Seal, Support Native Education, and Protect Native Heritage. To learn more about this important work and how you
can help to support it, go to MAIndigenousAgenda.org.
Christopher Columbus Statue
The Christopher Columbus statue in Boston's 'Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park' has stood for decades as a
representation of white supremacy and the celebration of Indigenous genocide caused by Columbus and his men. Like
similar statues around the country and Confederate monuments, this Columbus statue has been a focus of protest
repeatedly, including having its head knocked off on 6/10/2020. The City of Boston has temporarily removed the
headless statue, but will not commit to removing it permanently.
Every year since 1970, United American Indians of New England have organized the National Day of Mourning observance
in Plymouth at noon on Thanksgiving Day. Every year, hundreds of Native people and our supporters from all four
directions join us. Every year, including this year, Native people from throughout the Americas will speak the truth
about our history and about current issues and struggles we are involved in.
Why do hundreds of people stand out in the cold rather than sit home eating turkey and watching football? Do we have
something against a harvest festival?
Of course not. But Thanksgiving in this country -- and in particular in Plymouth --is much more than a harvest home
festival. It is a celebration of the pilgrim mythology.
According to this mythology, the pilgrims arrived, the Native people fed them and welcomed them, the Indians promptly
faded into the background, and everyone lived happily ever after.
The pilgrims are glorified and mythologized because the circumstances of the first English-speaking colony in
Jamestown were frankly too ugly (for example, they turned to cannibalism to survive) to hold up as an effective
national myth. The pilgrims did not find an empty land any more than Columbus "discovered" anything. Every
inch of this land is Indian land. The pilgrims (who did not even call themselves pilgrims) did not come here seeking
religious freedom; they already had that in Holland. They came here as part of a commercial venture. They introduced
sexism, racism, anti-lesbian and gay bigotry, jails, and the class system to these shores. One of the very first
things they did when they arrived on Cape Cod -- before they even made it to Plymouth -- was to rob Wampanoag graves
at Corn Hill and steal as much of the Indians' winter provisions of corn and beans as they were able to carry.
They were no better than any other group of Europeans when it came to their treatment of the Indigenous peoples
here. And no, they did not even land at that sacred shrine called Plymouth Rock, a monument to racism and oppression
which we are proud to say we buried in 1995.
The first official "Day of Thanksgiving" was proclaimed in 1637 by Governor Winthrop. He did so to
celebrate the safe return of men from the Massachusetts Bay Colony who had gone to Mystic, Connecticut to
participate in the massacre of over 700 Pequot women, children, and men.
About the only true thing in the whole mythology is that these pitiful European strangers would not have survived
their first several years in "New England" were it not for the aid of Wampanoag people. What Native people
got in return for this help was genocide, theft of our lands, and never-ending repression. We are treated either as
quaint relics from the past, or are, to most people, virtually invisible.
When we dare to stand up for our rights, we are considered unreasonable. When we speak the truth about the history
of the European invasion, we are often told to "go back where we came from." Our roots are right here. They
do not extend across any ocean.
National Day of Mourning began in 1970 when a Wampanoag man, Wamsutta Frank James, was asked to speak at a state
dinner celebrating the 350th anniversary of the pilgrim landing. He refused to speak false words in praise of the
white man for bringing civilization to us poor heathens. Native people from throughout the Americas came to
Plymouth, where they mourned their forebears who had been sold into slavery, burned alive, massacred, cheated, and
mistreated since the arrival of the Pilgrims in 1620.
But the commemoration of National Day of Mourning goes far beyond the circumstances of 1970.
Can we give thanks as we remember Native political prisoner Leonard Peltier, who was framed up by the FBI and has
been falsely imprisoned since 1976? Despite mountains of evidence exonerating Peltier and the proven misconduct of
federal prosecutors and the FBI, Peltier has been denied a new trial. Bill Clinton apparently does not feel that
particular pain and has refused to grant clemency to this innocent man.
To Native people, the case of Peltier is one more ordeal in a litany of wrongdoings committed by the U.S.
government against us. While the media in New England present images of the "Pequot miracle" in
Connecticut, the vast majority of Native people continue to live in the most abysmal poverty.
Can we give thanks for the fact that, on many reservations, unemployment rates surpass fifty percent? Our life
expectancies are much lower, our infant mortality and teen suicide rates much higher, than those of white Americans.
Racist stereotypes of Native people, such as those perpetuated by the Cleveland Indians, the Atlanta Braves, and
countless local and national sports teams, persist. Every single one of the more than 350 treaties that Native
nations signed has been broken by the U.S. government. The bipartisan budget cuts have severely reduced educational
opportunities for Native youth and the development of new housing on reservations, and have caused cause deadly
cutbacks in health-care and other necessary services.
Are we to give thanks for being treated as unwelcome in our own country?
Or perhaps we are expected to give thanks for the war that is being waged by the Mexican government against
Indigenous peoples there, with the military aid of the U.S. in the form of helicopters and other equipment? When the
descendants of the Aztec, Maya, and Inca flee to the U.S., the descendants of the wash-ashore pilgrims term them
'illegal aliens" and hunt them down.
We object to the "Pilgrim Progress" parade and to what goes on in Plymouth because they are making
millions of tourist dollars every year from the false pilgrim mythology. That money is being made off the backs of
our slaughtered indigenous ancestors.
Increasing numbers of people are seeking alternatives to such holidays as Columbus Day and Thanksgiving. They are
coming to the conclusion that, if we are ever to achieve some sense of community, we must first face the truth about
the history of this country and the toll that history has taken on the lives of millions of Indigenous, Black,
Latino, Asian, and poor and working class white people.
The myth of Thanksgiving, served up with dollops of European superiority and manifest destiny, just does not work
for many people in this country. As Malcolm X once said about the African-American experience in America, "We
did not land on Plymouth Rock. Plymouth Rock landed on us." Exactly.