By Benay Mix
In November 2018 Nick Estes of The Pink Nation—Albuquerque invited pals to a pot-luck and teach-in that was to be a substitute for the “genocidal” vacation of Thanksgiving. Modeled on the Nationwide Day of Mourning, it sought to exchange the commemoration of what was, in actuality, the slaughter of greater than 700 Pequot girls, kids, and males by English settlers in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
With the intention to sum up the spirit of the day, Estes quotes Moonanum James, a Wampanoag co-leader of the United American Indians of New England (UAINE), who spoke on the 2017 Day of Mourning:
“The pilgrims didn’t discover an empty land any greater than Columbus “found” something. Each inch of this land is Indian land. The pilgrims (who didn’t even name themselves pilgrims) didn’t come right here in search of spiritual freedom; they already had that in Holland. They got here right here as a part of a business enterprise.
They launched sexism, racism, anti-lesbian and homosexual bigotry, jails, and the category system to those shores. One of many very first issues they did after they arrived on Cape Cod—earlier than they even made it to Plymouth—was to rob Wampanoag graves at Corn Hill and steal as a lot of the Indians’ winter provisions as they had been in a position to carry.
They had been no higher than some other group of Europeans when it got here to their remedy of the Indigenous peoples right here. And no, they didn’t even land at that sacred shrine down the hill referred to as Plymouth Rock, a monument to racism and oppression.”
It’s partly due to these beliefs of settler colonialism and racial capitalism that there can be a special type of Thanksgiving gathering in November 2020—different or in any other case—as a result of rampant unfold of the coronavirus throughout the nation. Whereas the present administration denies the seriousness of the state of affairs, inserting company income above human lives, many people observe this lead by refusing to take precautions, believing that it’s their proper to put their particular person wants above the great of the group.
However, this vacation season arrives throughout a nationwide battle over racial justice, and a pandemic that has been notably injurious to marginalized communities of colour.
It’s no accident that South Dakota has the nation’s highest Covid-19 positivity charge whereas North Dakota has skilled an especially excessive per capita mortality. In an interview with Democracy Now’s host Amy Goodman, Jodi Archambault of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe explains how South Dakota Republican governor Kristi Noem, specifically, has made it troublesome for Indigenous individuals by making an attempt to withhold funds for tribal communities who take precautions to guard their well being.
This case is very dire as a result of probably the most weak are elders who’re liable for passing on languages and tradition to youthful tribal members. Furthermore, North Dakota governor Doug Burgum has requested that medical workers who take a look at optimistic proceed to work, thus placing sufferers and different staff in danger. As Archambault explains,
“…the enterprise of the hospital is asking for this sort of, I assume, allowance, to permit sick individuals with out signs to return and unfold? However truly, this has at all times — the state of affairs that we’re speaking about is the shortage of compassion for these elders, not simply Native elders, however all elders, all individuals with underlying well being situations, like most cancers. It’s an absolute alternative, a transparent alternative, to decide on revenue over individuals. So, the governor isn’t placing individuals first; he’s placing revenue first.”
Regardless of tribal roadblocks meant to maintain outsiders off of Place of origin, regardless of the refusal of nurses to return to work whereas sick, the virus remains to be spreading on reservations due to commerce that continues throughout borders. Whereas the unique Thanksgiving concerned European colonizers, who traveled throughout the ocean, this yr sees a continuance of this border crossing that repeats the inserting of economic pursuits above that of Indigenous individuals’s lives.
Within the desert Southwest, as in a lot of tribal land, there are related dynamics which have brought about one other surge of circumstances, and this after the individuals had labored laborious to regulate the transmission of the virus. In keeping with Allie Younger of the Navajo Nation and founding father of Shield the Sacred, a number of elements led to this present disaster. Lack of medical gear and volunteers existed earlier than the virus, however now are made worse by the epidemic.
Trump rallies in border cities, the place Navajo individuals store, have additionally impacted the Nation. “We have now to journey to those territories” Younger states, “the place they’re not fascinated by — they’re not sporting masks, and so they’re not fascinated by their neighbors who’ve been impacted.”
Including to this poisonous combine, continues Younger, many individuals have underlying situations because of years of mineral extraction on tribal land.
“For 30-plus years, we had Peabody up within the northwestern area of Navajo Nation, which was our scorching spot inside the nation. And quite a lot of our individuals up there — the waters and our lands are contaminated by uranium. And our elders needed to work via — and even my very own uncles — , they simply shut down final yr, in 2019.”
As a result of many individuals labored and now stay on these contaminated lands, they’re notably weak to the virus.
All of those examples characterize a repeat—or maybe a continuance—of the unique genocide of Native individuals by European invaders who then settled on stolen land.
However, writes Nick Estes, “it isn’t sufficient to speak solely of borders. Empire reaches past them.” Israelis, too, are committing genocide on stolen land, aided and abetted by Trump’s insurance policies, although the president is just performing like these earlier than and more than likely after him.
“100 years in the past, in what’s now generally known as the ‘Center East,’” writes Elena Ortiz (Ohkay Owingeh), “Europeans drew traces on paper and referred to as them borders. America has enforced these borders with army help within the type of troops, weapons and obscene quantities of cash.”
“It’s unconscionable that ‘liberal’ People will be so justifiably enraged that immigrant kids are stored in cages on the U.S. border,” Ortiz continues, “however keep silent at Palestinian kids being prosecuted and imprisoned in their very own homelands.”
Furthermore, Palestinians, just like the Indigenous in the US, have suffered unduly from the virus. As occupied individuals, they, too, had “underlying situations” when the pandemic hit.
Within the yr of the coronavirus, when People mourn that their celebrations can be lacking prolonged relations and pals, due both to their deaths or restrictions put in place to stop extra deaths, it will be good to do not forget that the unique settlers had been uninvited company, intruding on land which they might steal from its inhabitants.
Refusing to inform the true story of Thanksgiving implies committing genocide once more. By erasing the historical past of Indigenous individuals—whether or not Native American or Palestinian—we facet with the oppressor who needs to actually take away the people who find themselves native to the land.
“We speak concerning the historical past as a result of we should,” stated Mahtowin Munro (Wampanoag), a co-organizer for the 50th Nationwide Day of Mourning in 2019. “The main target is at all times on the Pilgrims. We’re simply going to maintain telling the reality,” she continued. “An increasing number of non-native individuals have been listening to us. They’re making an attempt to regulate their prism.”
Shortly after the Nationwide Day of Mourning, however in the identical spirit of resistance, Palestine Writes Literature Competition (December 2-6, 2020) will happen on a digital platform that seeks to carry the expertise to a broader viewers. Difficult censorship of Palestinian speech, Palestine Writes celebrates “artwork, literature, and the intersections between tradition, battle, and politics.”
By highlighting artwork and literature, previous and current, the pageant hopes to chop via a mythology just like that which Indigenous historian and activist Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz costs with standing in the way in which of social change within the States. Simpler stated than achieved, “that is …nationalism,” she declares.
“It’s truly—Americanism is white supremacy and represents adverse issues. There’s nearly no approach to reconcile it,” she concludes. “It merely must be deconstructed and confronted as much as,” in a way very very similar to Zionism, its related so as to add, because it operates in an analogous means.
– Benay Mix earned her doctorate in American Research from the College of New Mexico. Her scholarly works embody Douglas Vakoch and Sam Mickey, Eds. (2017), “’Neither Homeland Nor Exile are Phrases’: ‘Located Data’ within the Works of Palestinian and Native American Writers”. She contributed this text to The Palestine Chronicle.