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News ::
32nd National Day of Mourning Held in Plymouth
28 Nov 2001
Modified: 12 Dec 2001
The 32nd National Day of Mourning, an annual protest held every Thanksgiving to protest the Pilgrim mythology and oppression of Native Americans, was held on Cole's Hill above Plymouth Rock. The event was organized by the United American Indians of New England.
The 32nd National Day of Mourning, an annual protest held every Thanksgiving to protest the Pilgrim mythology and oppression of Native Americans, was held on Cole's Hill above Plymouth Rock. The event was organized by the United American Indians of New England.
The National Day of Mourning began in 1970, when Wamsutta, an Aquinnah Wampanoag, was asked to speak at a banquet celebrating the 350th anniversary of the landing of the Pilgrims. A written copy of his speech, looked at by the organizers of the banquet, was deemed unacceptable, and he was not allowed to deliver it because "...the theme of the anniversary celebration is brotherhood and anything inflammatory would have been out of place."
Wamsutta said that the welcoming of the Pilgrims by Massasoit "was perhaps our biggest mistake. We, the Wampanoag, welcomed you, the white man, with open arms, little knowing that it was the beginning of the end; that before 50 years were to pass, the Wampanoag would no longer be a free people."
On November 27, 1997, 25 peaceful NDM protesters were arrested. The charges were not only dropped on October 19, 1998, but a settlement was reached with the Town of Plymouth whereby the National Day of Mourning could be held every year without a permit from then on and two plaques would be put in place stating the truth of what happened to Native Americans. The first, on Cole's Hill, is about the National Day of Mourning itself. The other, in the Post Office Square, is about the story of Metacomet (King Phillip), who led an uprising to fight against the encroachment of Native American lands. He was killed in Rhode Island in August 1676, and his body was mutilated.
A statement from UAINE is: "To us, Thanksgiving Day is a reminder of the genocide of millions of our people, the theft of our lands, and the relentless assault on our cultures. 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."
This year's protest was very peaceful. Police presence was minimal or non-existent, and save for a drunk man who tried to get on the stage, there seemed to be no disruptive incidents.
The various speakers on Cole's Hill discussed a variety of issues, most notably the romanticized version of the Pilgrims' landing as opposed to what really happened, the wrongful detention of Leonard Peltier, and continued oppression of Native Americans. Also talked about were Mumia Abu Jamal and the current war on terrorism. Indeed, though it was not the main theme of the protest, this year's event seemed to have an anti-war element as well, as the arbitrary labeling of certain people as terrorists was brought up and US terrorism against native peoples criticized.
UAINE says about Leonard Peltier, "Despite mountains of evidence exonorating Peltier and the proven misconduct of federal prosecutors and the FBI, Peltier has been denied a new trial and continues to be denied parole or presidential clemency. To Native people, the case of Peltier is one more ordeal in a litany of wrongdoings committed by the U.S. government against us."
Following the speakers was a brief march to the Post Office Square where the Metacomet plaque is and the history of the plaques was recounted. Many banners were visible, including a large portrait of Leonard Peltier and a colorful banner with a feather, a pink triangle, and a black triangle that reads "Homophobia is Not Native to Our Shores."
The march then looped around to Plymouth Rock itself, where the story that this monument was the place where the Pilgrims originally landed was ridiculed, a monument UAINE calls "a monument to racism and oppression that we are proud to say we buried in 1995."
The march ended at a nearby school where a large potluck dinner, a virtual Thanksgiving feast, was held.
As Tall Oak of the Pequot said, "A nation that honors racists will always have racism, that honors bigots will always have bigotry, that honors hypocrites will always have hypocricy."
Therefore it is important that real history, however unpleasant, take the place of sugar-coated myths when it comes to holidays like Thanksgiving and Columbus Day.
See also:


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28 Nov 2001
Since the mainstream media did not seem to notice at all that there was any kind of protest going on in Pymouth, in fact a historical one; I am wondering how many people they managed to overlook. Does anyone who was there at the Day of Mourning have any guesses as to how many people were there?
a good amount
01 Dec 2001
I would say there was at least 60 people there and I usually underestimate. Also there were droves of people who walked thru and stopped to listen for a few minutes so if you count them I'd bet the number would be more like 200.
I was there
03 Dec 2001
Hi Nicole S,
There were about 100 + people there. I have gone for a few years now and encourage people who care to do so too, the numbers are growing slowly. It is critical that we, as 'Americans', listen to the Wampanoag as well as what is "news worthy" to really understand the callousness of those who claim to be our leaders (and news editors). Three years ago our local Fox affiliate interviewed me and others. Later I watched the news for days and barely a word was spoken, Other news outlet were there and little more was broadcast that night. Please read the speech that started this event, Mr. James says it well.
One year a friend joined me and commented on how the people there showed the kindness and dignity of decent and strong people, it is something I take for granted in people who speak truth to power.
I hope for the day Leonard can be there to see the many faces of people who stand by his side.

Peace NOW~!
Nat'l Day of Mourning links
07 Dec 2001
There was a global IMC feature on the National Day of Mourning, see this page for links:
Next Year
12 Dec 2001
It is so good to know that people are out there year after year. I'm a college student from Bourne, going to school in Indiana. I promise to be there next year, and to bring some friends.