united american indians of new england

We Are Not Vanishing.
We Are Not Conquered.
We Are As Strong As Ever.




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. 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

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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