“Every inch of this land is Indian land,” Moonanum (pictured above), an Aquinnah Wampanoag, told the crowd of hundreds that had gathered on Plymouth’s Cole’s Hill for United American Indians of New England’s 47th annual National Day of Mourning on Nov. 24, 2016—the day the majority of Americans celebrate as Thanksgiving.
“Many Native Americans do not celebrate the arrival of the Pilgrims and other European settlers,” organizers wrote on the Facebook event page. “Thanksgiving day is a reminder of the genocide of millions of Native people, the theft of Native lands, and the relentless assault on Native culture. 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 that Native Americans continue to experience.”
The event began with prayers and singing and dancing at the foot of the bronze statue of Massasoit that looks out toward Plymouth Rock and the harbor. Then there were speeches and a march through the town.
“Say there were 30,000 to 70,000 of us when the English landed here,” Russell Peters of Mashpee told the crowd before beginning a song dedicated to the long jailed Native American activist Leonard Peltier. “There are less than 5,000 Wampanoag today,” he said. “If that doesn’t shout genocide, nothing does.”
“But we’re still here,” Peters said.
Photos copyright 2016 Greg Cook.