Thanksgiving? Thanks for what?

For all you folks out there who are not Indians, I'm going to tell you a few things. And you're gonna have to trust me. I'm not lying to you, and I'm not saying this to hurt your feelings. Okay? That would be a great big waste of time. What kind of jerk would use the internet to stomp on other peoples' feelings? I have to warn you, though, that a few of these things are going to be unpleasant to hear. I'm asking you to trust me, and to trust that I'm trying to tell you the truth.

Most everyone knows that before 1492, the Indians controlled the Western Hemisphere. Now they don't. Most everyone knows that it's not the case now, because the Indians had their land stolen. Now, don't get upset. I'm not saying that you were the one that stole it. Yet, it is part of the history of the United States. There's a lot more ugliness that I could explore in American history, but peoples' eyes tend to glaze over after awhile. Let's just start with that one fact. The land belonged to the Indians; now very little does. It got that way because people took it away from us.

Many Americans feel guilty (as some did at the time) about all of this. What some people did was to invent stories about the way things happened, because they couldn't deal with the way that things actually happened. You therapists know about this; it's called denial. So...lots of these stories got made up, and made it into what is taught by some nowdays as American history.

I'm not saying that all American history, as it is taught, is lies, but it has been written by the victors. Even so, you can piece together some things that happened with the Indians. For instance, if you read about the Wampanoag Indians and the Pilgrims, you will discover that they were friends only in the sense that the original United Federation of Planets was friends with the Klingons. Very few of the early settlers of this country liked the Indians; many even thought of the Indians as devils, figuratively or otherwise. The Pilgrims were not the friends of the Wampanoag. Thanksgiving was not the big love-fest that most everyone in mainstream society in America says that it was. One theory says that it was actually a celebration for a massacre of Pequot Indians. Yet, folks nowdays want us Indians to pretend that the immigrants to this land were always our friends. And the land was taken away. And people in the mainstream not only want to deny the ugly parts of American history. They want us to deny them, too, and pretend that none of it ever happened.

Well, you Indians, you say. If it isn't this, it's the Columbus thing. But we didn't make all this up! In some cases, we're now getting the chance to tell our story for the first time. If you want to be angry, why not be angry at those people who covered up these ugly aspects of history for so long? It reminds me of when Martin Luther King, Jr., was active, and people were saying, "You Negroes are just going to have to be patient a little longer."

Many Americans know enough about Indian history to know that the Indians in this country got a raw deal. So, when Thanksgiving rolls around again, if you take a moment to think about it, you'll realize why we wouldn't want to celebrate it. When you ask us to speak at your Thanksgiving pageants, and we refuse, we're really not trying to be rude. We're not trying to hurt your feelings. But you are asking us to take a very painful part of our history, and pretend that it didn't happen. I'm sure you can see why we wouldn't want to do that.

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