Background Information

Who we are

UAINE is a Native-led organization of Native people and our supporters who fight back against racism and for the freedom of Leonard Peltier and other political prisoners. We support Indigenous struggles, not only in New England but throughout the Americas.

We fight back on such issues as the racism of the Pilgrim mythology perpetuated in Plymouth and the U.S. government's assault on poor people. We protest the use of racist team names and mascots in sports. We speak to classes in schools and universities about current issues in the Native struggle. Indigenous people from North, Central or South America who live in New England and who agree with what we are trying to do are welcome to join with us. We also welcome the support of non-Native people from the four directions. We believe very strongly that we must support others in struggle, particularly other communities of color, the LGBTQ community, and the disabled community.

UAINE and money

UAINE is a self-supporting organization that receives no funding from any government agency. We rely on those who support us in our struggle for the funds needed to continue to fight that struggle. Any moneys we receive from our participation in any program or our speaking engagements or from any other contributions go right into the UAINE coffers. We do not have paid staffers. In other words, no one is using UAINE as a means of making a living.

UAINE and the history of National Day of Mourning

In 1970, United American Indians of New England declared US Thanksgiving Day a National Day of Mourning. This came about as a result of the suppression of the truth. Wamsutta, an Aquinnah Wampanoag man, had been asked to speak at a fancy Commonwealth of Massachusetts banquet celebrating the 350th anniversary of the landing of the Pilgrims. He agreed. The organizers of the dinner, using as a pretext the need to prepare a press release, asked for a copy of the speech he planned to deliver. He agreed. Within days Wamsutta was told by a representative of the Department of Commerce and Development that he would not be allowed to give the speech. The reason given was due to the fact that, "...the theme of the anniversary celebration is brotherhood and anything inflammatory would have been out of place." What they were really saying was that in this society, the truth is out of place.

What was it about the speech that got those officials so upset? Wamsutta used as a basis for his remarks one of their own history books - a Pilgrim's account of their first year on Indian land. The book tells of the opening of my ancestor's graves, taking our wheat and bean supplies, and of the selling of my ancestors as slaves for 220 shillings each. Wamsutta was going to tell the truth, but the truth was out of place.

Here is the truth:

The reason they talk about the pilgrims and not an earlier English-speaking colony, Jamestown, is that in Jamestown the circumstances were way too ugly to hold up as an effective national myth. For example, the white settlers in Jamestown turned to cannibalism to survive. Not a very nice story to tell the kids in school. 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 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 down the hill 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 Massachusetts 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.

But back in 1970, the organizers of the fancy state dinner told Wamsutta he could not speak that truth. They would let him speak only if he agreed to deliver a speech that they would provide. Wamsutta refused to have words put into his mouth. Instead of speaking at the dinner, he and many hundreds of other Native people and our supporters from throughout the Americas gathered in Plymouth and observed the first National Day of Mourning. United American Indians of New England have returned to Plymouth every year since to demonstrate against the Pilgrim mythology.

On that first Day of Mourning back in 1970, Plymouth Rock was buried not once, but twice. The Mayflower was boarded and the Union Jack was torn from the mast and replaced with the flag that had flown over liberated Alcatraz Island. The roots of National Day of Mourning have always been firmly embedded in the soil of militant protest.

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Seventh Cavalry's "Glorious" History: Their first massacre was in 1868

By Mahtowin - April 10, 2003
Published in Worker's World

Since the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the big business media has made much of the spearhead role of the Seventh Cavalry. 'Rich in glory and agony,' read the New York Times' headline about its history. The 'agony' refers to the 1876 defeat of the Seventh Cavalry and its commander, Col. George Armstrong Custer, at Little Big Horn by combined Lakota and Cheyenne forces.

Many people know about this. But few know the rest of the "glorious" history and what preceded the battle at Little Big Horn.

Seventh Cavalry's 'glorious' history

A Seventh Cavalry officer surveys the massacre scene three days following the Dec. 29, 1890, U.S. genocidal attack on the Lakota nation, led by Big Foot of the Hunkpapa Lakota, at Wounded Knee, Pine Ridge.
Here, a Seventh Cavalry officer surveys the massacre scene three days following the Dec. 29, 1890, U.S. genocidal attack on the Lakota nation, led by Big Foot of the Hunkpapa Lakota, at Wounded Knee, Pine Ridge.

Commissioned by Congress in 1866, the Seventh Cavalry is one of the oldest continuously serving regiments in the U.S. It was initially given the task of quelling Native uprisings and ensuring that pioneers were safe in the Midwestern states.

On Nov. 27, 1868, Custer led the regiment in a pre-dawn raid on a peaceful Cheyenne encampment on the Washita River in Oklahoma. It resulted in the massacre of hundreds of women, children and men. Cheyenne leader Black Kettle had already seen many of his people massacred in 1864 at Sand Creek. He had brought the survivors to Washita. When Black Kettle once again saw his people slaughtered, he and his wife rode out, trying to meet Custer. They carried a white flag, hoping to stop the attack, but were shot on sight.

In the early 1870s, the Seventh Cavalry escorted surveyors, prospectors and others into the Black Hills to steal gold and land from the Lakota people. It was a fine day, indeed, when Custer and many of his soldiers met their death at Little Big Horn in 1876. Unfortunately, this was not the end of the Seventh Cavalry.

Wounded Knee Massacre

In late December 1890, shortly after the murder of Sitting Bull, some Minneconjou and Hunkpapa Lakota left their reservations and headed toward the Badlands.

On Dec. 28, in the village of Wounded Knee at Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota, the Seventh Cavalry arrested a group of Lakota led by Big Foot of the Hunkpapa Lakota. After disarming the Native people, the cavalry began the Wounded Knee massacre, raining fragmentation shells into the village at a combined rate of 200 or more rounds a minute. The 500 well-armed cavalry troops carried out the slaughter methodically.

Unarmed women, children and men were mercilessly massacred. A few ran as far as three miles only to be chased and put to death. Frozen bodies were strewn across the snow-covered land. Many were unceremoniously dumped into a mass grave by the cavalry.

At least 300 Lakota were massacred that day. Many said this was the "revenge" of the Seventh Cavalry for its defeat at Little Big Horn.

Twenty Congressional Medals of Honor were awarded to these troops for this "battle."

The Seventh Cavalry was exonerated for its conduct. Secretary of War Redfield Proctor said, "[I]t was impossible to distinguish buck from squaw. ... The bucks fired from among the squaws and children in their retreat. ... The Indians themselves were entirely responsible for this unfortunate phase of the affair."

Army Gen. Charles Brewster Schofield, in his report regarding the conduct of the soldiers, said: "The evidence shows that great care was taken by the officers and enlisted men to avoid unnecessary killing of Indian women and children in the affair at Wounded Knee, and shows that the conduct of the Seventh U.S. Cavalry under very trying circumstances was characterized by excellent discipline and in many cases by great forbearance."

This kind of lie-filled public relations disinformation sounds just like what is now coming out of the Pentagon to cover up the U.S. military's killing of Iraqi civilians.

That was not the end of the "glorious" history of the Seventh Cavalry, however.

In 1950, the regiment slaughtered hundreds of defenseless civilians near the village of Nogun-ri, South Korea, a massacre covered up for many years.

During the Vietnam War in the 1960s, these latter-day cowboys caused many more civilian deaths.

Perhaps this "glorious" history of slaughtering civilians in wars of imperialist conquest makes the Seventh Cavalry ideally suited for a leading role in Iraq.

As if this history were not odious enough, subdivisions of the Seventh Cavalry have vilely appropriated the names of Native warriors and nations, using appellations such as "Crazy Horse" and "Apache."

The Department of Defense routinely scavenges through Native heritage to give names to its tools of death and destruction. Assault helicopters have names like the "Apache," "Iroquois," "Cayuse," "Black Hawk" and "Kiowa." There is the "Tomahawk" cruise missile.

Naming these weapons of destruction and intimidation after Native warriors and nations is an insult.

Crazy Horse (Tashunke Witko, 1849-1877) was a great Lakota visionary and warrior who was among those who defeated Custer at Little Big Horn. Black Hawk (Makataimeshekiakiak, 1767-1838) was a great Sauk war chief from what is now Illinois. His eloquence and dignity, as well as his courage, were well known.

Why does the U.S. military use the names of Native people and nations? They say it is to give weapons names that are frightening or intimidating.

In that case, says Moonanum James, a Wampanoag Vietnam-era veteran, "They should name their tools of war after Bush, Cheney and their cohorts."

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Moonanum's Speech, Boston Common - March 29, 2003

Good afternoon sisters and brothers:

A few short weeks ago I was honored to have opened one of the largest anti-war rally ever held in Washington, DC. I spoke of how our very presence freed the land from those who would wage war. Today, our presence here frees this land from those who have ordered our sons and daughters, sisters and brothers, mothers and fathers to wage a most brutal war of racist, imperial conquest on the people of Iraq.

I also spoke of my son who is serving in the US Army. Well, he is still in the army only his address has changed. He is now somewhere in Iraq. To the others who have loved ones who are now in harm’s way no matter the side, I know what you are feeling in your hearts. To those who have lost loved ones no matter the side, my thoughts and prayers will always be with you.

Women's Fightback Network contingent, antiwar march Boston, MA, March 29, 2003

Women's Fightback Network contingent
antiwar march
Boston, MA,
March 29, 2003

photo: Liza Green

There are those who seek to marginalize us. For instance, there are those who criticized some of the speakers at the historic January 18th march on Washington by saying that they should not have raised so-called "peripheral" or "freakish" issues such as speaking about labor or the political prisoners Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu Jamal. Racism is not a marginal issue. It never has been and it never will be. People of color in this country know first-hand what it is to be on the receiving end of a relentless campaign of war and terror. We know old Uncle Sam all too well, know his greedy, evil ways. And is it not blatant racism that is behind this drive to get us to see our Arab sisters and brothers as somehow less than human, as people who deserve to die? We must support our Palestinian sisters and brothers and denounce in no uncertain terms the israeli theft and occupation of Palestinian lands. We will fight back against being labeled anti-semitic for speaking the truth about zionism. The righteous fight of the Palestinian people for the return of their homeland is not a freakish or peripheral issue.

Moonanum James, co-leader of the United American Indians of New England and leader of the Troops Out Now coalition addressing 25,000 antiwar protesters on Boston Common, March 29, 2004  photo: Liza Green

Moonanum James, co-leader of the United American Indians of New England and spokesperson for the International ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War & End Racism) coalition addressing 25,000 antiwar protesters on Boston Common,
March 29, 2003
photo: Liza Green

If you go into most any African-American or Native or Puerto Rican or white working class home, for that matter, you see one or more pictures of a young person in a Marines uniform or an Army uniform. If there are to be American body bags coming back from Iraq or anyplace else, it is primarily our children who will be in them because so many of them are in the military. And setting that aside, we must insist that we do not want to see any more of our Iraqi sisters and brothers murdered by the US. 42% of the civilian population of Iraq is children. Hundreds of thousands of children in Iraq have died as a result of the US sanctions. We must defend these beautiful children as we would our own.

On April 12th there is going to be another gathering in Washington, DC. It is being organized by ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and end Racism). In January we had a half million people on the street in DC. Get on the bus and let’s make it a million. Or two or three.

Earlier I mentioned cutbacks and a war at home. Make no mistake about it. There is a war being waged right here at home. A war of oppression against people of color. Against the poor. Women. Disabled. Gay, lesbian, bi and trans. The elderly. And above all, children.

United American Indians of New England co-leader Mahtowin explains it like this:

“People of color in the US know first hand what it is like to be on the receiving end of a relentless campaign of war and terror. Native people have dealt for centuries with the terrorism of the US, Canadian, Mexican and other colonizing governments. I urge all of you here today to consider the knowledge that we have gained during that time. If we had unified early on, worked together rather than as separate nations, we may have prevailed. At this time, we must come together in unity, to speak with one voice and say NO to war! We have the power within us to stop this war and to change the world, and we will do so. Our experiences and our struggles for self-determination and sovereignty must be part of the overall anti-war struggle. We, as people of color, are already in the forefront of this new movement that is growing by the thousands daily. And maybe, just maybe, this movement will lead to a new understanding amongst all of us of each other's struggles and of what it will take to build a new and just society right here in the belly of the beast."

In the spirit of crazy horse.
In the spirit of Metacom.
Free Leonard Peltier.
Free Mumia Abu Jamal.
Free all political prisoners.
Say NO to war.


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