On Thanksgiving, Remember the *Trail of Tears*Somervell County Salon-Glen Rose, Rainbow, Nemo, Glass....Texas


 

On Thanksgiving, Remember the *Trail of Tears*
 


23 November 2006 at 9:10:15 AM
salon

We think of Indians on Thanksgiving as part of the Pilgrim-Indian history play. How many people know about the history of the Trail of Tears, when, as part of a long campaign to rid this country of Indians, Cherokees were forced from their homesteads in Georgia and sent on a long march, in one of the worst winters on record, to Oklahoma. Around 4000 Cherokees died during that genocidal march, which then-president Andrew Jackson orchestrated when he approved the taking of their lands and their forced removal. (I can't help but draw a much watered down analogy between Jackson taking Indian lands by force and the Trans Texas Corridor taking lands of US citizens by force).

Houston Chron has an article about a bill Congress just passed better designating the routes the Cherokee took during their forced removal. The title is "Trail of Tears to be resurrected from history books". Now, school lessons may have changed since I was a kid, but I was never taught about the genocides that occurred under Andrew Jackson-it took becoming an adult and reading books on the subject to become informed. Will visitors and school children understand just what it is that our country did to native Americans by studying the routes of death?

Robert Jensen of UTA also comments about the Indian myths of Thanksgiving.

One indication of moral progress in the United States would be the replacement of Thanksgiving Day and its self-indulgent family feasting with a National Day of Atonement accompanied by a self-reflective collective fasting.

In fact, indigenous people have offered such a model; since 1970 they have marked the fourth Thursday of November as a Day of Mourning in a spiritual/political ceremony on Coles Hill overlooking Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts, one of the early sites of the European invasion of the Americas. ..

One vehicle for taming history is various patriotic holidays, with Thanksgiving at the heart of U.S. myth-building. From an early age, we Americans hear a story about the hearty Pilgrims, whose search for freedom took them from England to Massachusetts. There, aided by the friendly Wampanoag Indians, they survived in a new and harsh environment, leading to a harvest feast in 1621 following the Pilgrims first winter.

Some aspects of the conventional story are true enough. But it's also true that by 1637 Massachusetts Gov. John Winthrop was proclaiming a thanksgiving for the successful massacre of hundreds of Pequot Indian men, women and children, part of the long and bloody process of opening up additional land to the English invaders. The pattern would repeat itself across the continent until between 95 and 99 percent of American Indians had been exterminated and the rest were left to assimilate into white society or die off on reservations, out of the view of polite society.

Simply put: Thanksgiving is the day when the dominant white culture (and, sadly, most of the rest of the non-white but non-indigenous population) celebrates the beginning of a genocide that was, in fact, blessed by the men we hold up as our heroic founding fathers.

The first president, George Washington, in 1783 said he preferred buying Indians' land rather than driving them off it because that was like driving "wild beasts" from the forest. He compared Indians to wolves, "both being beasts of prey, tho' they differ in shape." Thomas Jefferson — president #3 and author of the Declaration of Independence, which refers to Indians as the "merciless Indian Savages" — was known to romanticize Indians and their culture, but that didn't stop him in 1807 from writing to his secretary of war that in a coming conflict with certain tribes, "[W]e shall destroy all of them."

Why does it make a difference to remember the distaff side of the Thanksgiving story today?

This off-and-on engagement with history isn't of mere academic interest; as the dominant imperial power of the moment, U.S. elites have a clear stake in the contemporary propaganda value of that history. Obscuring bitter truths about historical crimes helps perpetuate the fantasy of American benevolence, which makes it easier to sell contemporary imperial adventures — such as the invasion and occupation of Iraq — as another benevolent action.


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Comments

salon > Quick update on this, via Pacer-Click on pic to see larger (Turk Case Update- Telephone Conference Hearing Set for March 8 2019 )

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LanceHall > I see the land or that part of it is now in the hands of Glen Rose's own Corky Underwood. Is Jacene still involved?   I had already informed the Visitor Bureau manager (who's.... (What Happened to Jerry Jacene? )








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