Monday, November 23, 2015

Thanksgiving and Other Assorted Myths

Am I the only one who thinks that during the week leading up to Thanksgiving, We, the People need to be thinking about how thankful we should be for living in these here United States. You know....Home of the Brave, Land of the Free? The place where huddled masses yearning to breathe free managed to land at some checkpoint and make it through to the Goldeneh Medina?

The First Thanksgiving  J.L.G. Ferris - c.1932
the mythological version
Seems to me that unless you're a Native American, you arrived on these here shores seeking freedom from something. And when we arrived, we weren't nice to the people who were here. We brought little hostess gifts like influenza and small pox. Eventually, We, the People conquered, vanquished, humbled, belittled, segregated, and out-and-out killed the people who actually owned this land. I am certain had the Algonquins had a media outlet, they would've described these same "settlers" as religious terrorists come to impose their laws, customs, and mores upon people who had their own laws, customs and mores and saw no reason to change them. So, one might correctly conclude the only time refugees to the US really decimated the population was when they first arrived. See illustration above for revisionist, mythological depiction of the first Thanksgiving. 

We cannot go back and undo what the first settlers and subsequent generations did to the Native Americans, but there are certainly things that should be done, beginning with the systematic removal of ALL anti-Indigenous People acts throughout this country. A good place to begin would be recognizing the role of terror in the conquest of this nation. 

Terror? Did I say terror? Yes. As a matter of fact I did. We showed up with firesticks and scared the living daylights out of the locals. We told them BIG lies about how we were magic. We scared them first into submission, then we swooped in and destroyed them. I do believe that qualifies as guerrilla warfare. 

Meanwhile, back at the ol' homestead, another thing we should do is think about what role this mythological magic-feast holiday has in our lives. It's not religious. It is quintessentially American. It supposed to celebrate not who we are, but who we believe we have become. 

Try living up to that higher dream standard. Let's take a moment to remember where our ancestors came from and what life is like back there now. Do we want to go back, or do we want to stay in this great, imperfect manifest destiny that needs work?

There is a lot of work to do here, and we could sure use a few more hands attached to the arms attached to the shoulders and attached to the heads who want to believe in the American dream. We need those new refugees as much as they need us. It is not easy to get here. It takes about two very long, very probing years for refugee status to be conferred and that's even before America becomes the destination. There is no guarantee once you're declared a refugee that you're even gonna get in here, so let's all take a deep breath before jumping off the short pier. 

      Manzanar - Winter  1943-44       

Ansel Adams
This registration thing is Americanly abhorrent. The Nazis began  by requiring Jews to register as Jews. Once the data base was formed, it was easy to round them up. And we do know how to round people up already, don't we? We even know how to build concentration camps. Manzanar was not a myth or an imaginary exercise. Manzanar was very real. You may even know someone who was imprisoned there....and doesn't talk about it much. But they remember what it was like to be rounded up because of the shape of their eyes and the color of their skin....while their sons were in uniform fighting for the US. How American is that?

This year, when you sit down at the Thanksgiving table, maybe talk about where your people came from and how they got here. Which group would've been the one who wanted your group to register. Just don't think about it, talk about it. Talk about what you would do when then come to your door to register you. This Thanksgiving, begin a new conversation with your family and your friends. Your job is to learn who you are, who your family is, and who we are as a nation.

Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
May all those who are hungry come and eat. 
Our tables are laden with goodly bounty. 

c. 1950


  1. Actually we will celebrate Indigenous People's Day and not Thanksgiving Day. It is their day as they lost their land when these foreigners came here so we need to celebrate them as a culture.

    1. Dina, do you really celebrate Indigenous People's Day? You don't call it Thanksgiving? Well, good for you- I guess.


  2. It's supposed to celebrate not who we are, but who we believe we have become.

    It's a time of humility. It's never time to celebrate who you are or even who you've become, rather it's a time to celebrate who others are, and who they've become. Humility is a human's greatest trait. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!