27 November, 2010
Listen to Fidel
Reflections of Fidel
Hugo Chávez' speech
(Taken from CubaDebate)
AN unprecedented meeting had taken place in the United States Capitol building between a group of legislators from the fascist right of that country and leaders of the Latin American right and pro-coup oligarchy. In that meeting there was talk of the defeat of the governments of Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua.
The event took place a few days prior to the meeting of the hemisphere's defense ministers in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, where President Evo Morales made his energetic condemnation on November 22.
But that meeting was not about a slanderous media campaign – a regular feature in imperialist politics – but conspiratorial activity that, without any doubt, would lead to inevitable bloodshed in Venezuela.
Given my experience over many years, I do not harbor the slightest doubt as to what would happen in Venezuela if Chávez were to be assassinated. It would not have to be part of a prior plot against the president; a mentally deranged person, a drug addict, or the violence unleashed by drug trafficking in the countries of Latin America would suffice to generate an extremely grave problem in Venezuela. Analyzing such an act from the political point of view, the activities and habits of the reactionary oligarchy that owns powerful media corporations and is encouraged and financed by the United States, it would inevitably lead to bloody clashes in the streets of Venezuela, which are the clear intentions of the Venezuelan opposition, infused with hatred and acts of violence in full view.
Guillermo Zuloaga – the owner of a television channel opposed to the Bolivarian Revolution and a fugitive from Venezuelan justice – is one of the conspirators who took part in the meeting of Congress members called by Connie Mack and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen – the latter of Cuban origin and a Batista affiliate – known to our people as the loba feroz (the big bad wolf) due to her repugnant conduct during the kidnapping of [Cuban] Elián González and her refusal to hand the child over to his father. The Republican Congresswoman is a symbol of hatred of and resentment against Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia and the other member countries of ALBA; it is virtually certain that the U.S. Congress will appoint her chair of the House Foreign Relations Committee; she was a defender of the Honduran coup government, repudiated by the majority of the countries of America.
The Bolivarian government of Venezuela was faced with a grave and provocative challenge. It was a really delicate issue. I asked myself what Chávez' reaction would be. The first energetic response came from Evo Morales in his brilliant and sincere speech made available to our people today. Two days ago, Tuesday the 13th, it was announced that Chávez would address the issue in the National Assembly.
The meeting was called for 5:00pm and it began almost exactly on time. The speeches made there were energetic and to the point. All of the activities lasted barely two hours and a few minutes. The Venezuelans had taken the problem very seriously.
Chávez began by mentioning the names of the many people present and, after joking with the new Kata world champion and about the game between two professional baseball teams, began to develop his subject:
"…I am really, really, really going to be brief. It has been said, tell me, that document read by Deputy Roy, thank you Roy, Roy Daza, for that reading, that document, not only in defense of Venezuela, as has already been said here –Eva [Golinger] said it. No, we are coming out in defense of the human homeland; one could even say, in defense of human possibility.
"I brought some books [...] This was the same copy, it's already a bit worn, that I lifted up there in the United Nations: Chomsky: Hegemony or Survival: the Imperialist Strategy of the United States – I am still recommending this book, Noam Chomsky. Eva mentioned it and reminded us of this great man of political thought, of creative thought, of philosophy, of the struggle for humanity.
"I have here the continuation of it, Failed States: the Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy. Here, right here, Chomsky poses the thesis that the first failed state in this world is the U.S. state, a failed state, a real threat to the entire planet, to the entire world, to the human species."
"Here, there is one part of the interview, of the conversations, where Chomsky is reflecting on Latin America and on Venezuela, in a very valiant, very objective and generous manner, defending our revolutionary process, defending our people, defending the right that we have and are exercising to make our own way, as all the peoples of the world have, and the yankee empire has not recognized that right and is attempting to disregard it.
"In the very same Federal Capitol – I believe that's what it's called – in the very same Washington, a summit of terrorists met, installed itself; a summit, a mob – as the Argentines would say, and we Venezuelans also talk of mobs – a real mob of criminals, swindlers, terrorists, thieves, scroungers, met there and, moreover, they were backed by 'prestigious' establishment figures, from the establishment, not only the Republican extreme right currents, but also from the Democratic Party and – as has been said here, Eva said it, Roy said it in the marvelous document he read, a state document, a national document – they openly launched a threat against Venezuela, against the countries and the peoples of the Bolivarian Alliance.
"Our greetings from here to Evo Morales, a valiant compañero, comrade, and to the people of Bolivia.
"Our greetings from here to Rafael Correa, a valiant compañero, comrade, and to the Ecuadorian people.
"Our greetings from here to Daniel Ortega, that comandante president, valiant compañero, comrade, and to the people of Nicaragua.
"Our greetings from here to Fidel Castro, to Raúl Castro and to that valiant Cuban people.
"Our greetings from here to all the peoples of the Caribbean, to Roosevelt Skerrit and to the people of Dominica, valiant leaders; Saint Vincent & the Grenadines; Ralph Goncalves, Spencer, to the peoples of the ALBA, of the Bolivarian Alliance, to their governments, to our governments and, of course, from here, to the indomitable people of Venezuela, our commitment and our call to unity and to continue battling for the future of the homeland, for independence, whose original constitution – as our president, Cilia said – here it is, the original constitution of 200 years ago.
"We are already entering 2011, let us prepare ourselves from all points of view: the spiritual, political, moral, to commemorate the 200 years of that first Congress, of that first constitution, the first in Latin America, of that birth of the First Republic, the birth of the Venezuelan homeland; much more than just July 5, it is going to be all of 2011 and the beginning of the revolutionary war of independence first commanded by Miranda, then Bolívar and the great men and women who gave us the homeland.
"The document read by Roy Daza begins by quoting a phrase of Bolívar's in a letter to the agent Irving, a U.S. agent who came here to reclaim those ships that Bolívar and his troops seized on the Orinoco because the United States was sending in weapons and supplies.
"It's nothing new, Eva, everything that you are exposing here about sending millions of dollars, logistical support, it's nothing new. No. Already back then the U.S. government was sending weapons and military supplies to the Spanish imperialist troops. And that is famous. That fact has been compiled, in part, by that fine Cuban writer Francisco Pividal, in another book that I constantly recommend: Bolívar, pensamiento precursor del antimperialismo. It can be read in one go. And there is a combination of extraordinary quotes here. You already pointed to one.
"But in parts of these letters from Bolívar to Irving – I think it was the last one that he sent to him – when Irving was already beginning to threaten him with the use of force, Bolívar says: I am not going to fall into provocation, not even in language. I merely wish to say to you, Mr. Irving' – it's written here, I'm going to paraphrase it, because it is the idea, it is the dignity of our father, Bolívar, that is being imposed, what is of importance in this hall full of magic, full of symbols, full of homeland, full of dreams, full of hope, full of dignity – Bolívar says to him: 'You should know, Mr. Irving, that more than half or half' – it was 1819, almost one decade of war to the death had passed – 'or almost half of Venezuelan men and Venezuelan women have died in the struggle against the Spanish empire, and the other half of us left here are anxious to follow that same road even if Venezuela should have to confront the entire world for its independence, for its dignity.'
"That was, that is Bolívar, and here we are, his sons, his daughters, María, disposed to the very same thing. The world should know that, we are disposed to the very same thing. If the yankee empire, with all its power, which we're not taking lightly, no, we have to take it seriously – as Eva well recommended to us – decides to attack, continue attacking and openly attacking Venezuela in order to try and halt this revolution, here we are prepared, understand that, mister empire and its personifications, that here we are disposed to the very same thing: for everyone to die for this homeland and its dignity!
"It should be asked, that summit of terrorists which met in Washington, some Venezuelans, Bolivians, genocidal people – as one good journalists asked in an interview yesterday – it would be good to know what passport these criminals are using, where they entered, if some of then are on INTERPOL's code red. They arrived sweet and easy and they arrived and were walking about the streets of Washington, being wined and dined. For that reason, Noam Chomsky is right. I repeat with Noam Chomsky: the U.S. state is a failed state that is acting beyond international laws, that respects absolutely nothing and, moreover, feels that it has the right to do so, that it doesn't have to respond to anybody. It is a threat not only to Venezuela and to the peoples of the world, but to its own people, a people that are under constant attack from that anti-democratic state.
"Look, here is just a summary. Wikileaks, you know it, right?
"What is this lady representative, fascist, going to say, the one who calls us, Evo, Correa and me, bandits? She's the bandit, she is a bandit and a Venezuelan court could well apply for the extradition of that bandit for committing crimes and conspiring, and many other charges, against the sovereignty of our country. She is a bandit. All that remains is to point the finger at her before the world, and the other bandits.
"What would those bandits say about this, for example?
"'What will the U.S. Parliament have to say about these reports, about these documents that were secret and which have now been published on this Wikileaks page? What does Wikileaks mean? like Chávez Candanga.
"'On March 15, 2010, Wiki Candanga made public a Department of Defense report dealing with various leaks made by this website in relation to U.S. interests and proposed a number of ways to minimize it: a video of the murder of journalists.' I have here some of the documents, they are public. It remains to be seen if some authority in the United States takes an initiative in the face of these crimes, or these alleged crimes, right? I'm no judge to determine that, alleged serious crimes committed by citizens of its country, civilian, military, by its government.
"I read: 'On April 5, 2010, Wikileaks published a video in which U.S. soldiers can be seen murdering the Reuters reporter, Namir Noor-Eldeen, his assistant and nine other people. It can clearly be seen that none of those present were showing any signs of attacking the Apache helicopter from which they were being fired on. Although the Reuters agency has asked for the video on numerous occasions, that was denied to them until Wikileaks obtained this unpublished video which put the military apparatus of the United States in checkmate.'
"Well, put in checkmate is a saying, right? At least morally.
"Once again, what would the United Nations say? What would happen if that should take place in some of the ALBA countries? What would happen? What would the OAS say, what would the United Nations Security Council, the Human Rights Council? What would the infamous International Court of Human Rights say? So that we can see the double standard by which human rights are measured here, respect for life, terrorism and all those phenomena.
"Daily logs of the war in Afghanistan, July 25, 2010, were also published. Documentation of the war in Iraq. Listen to this sentence: On October 22, 2010 – just a few days ago – Wikileaks published on its web page a compendium entitled Iraq War Logs, containing 391,831 documents leaked from the Pentagon, about the war in Iraq and its occupation from January of 2004 to December 31, 2009, which reveals, among other issues, the systematic use of torture; the figure of 109,032 dead in Iraq, 61,081 of which were civilian, 63%; 23,984 'enemy' labeled as insurgents, 15,196 'host country' Iraqi government forces. What a way to visit a country! And 3,771 'friends' dead, coalition forces. The documents reveal that, over the course of six years, on average, 31 civilians died everyday.
"Who is investigating this? Who is accountable for this? No, it's the empire, the failed U.S. state. I read this phrase: 'These documents which are organized chronologically and by categories describe lethal military actions involving the United States military. They include the number of persons internally stated to be killed, wounded, or detained during each action, together with the precise geographical location of each event, and the military units involved and major weapon systems used.' Enough details for an investigation.
"What will the U.S. Congress say about this? There's our ambassador to Washington. Are you still the ambassador there? Yes, you are the ambassador. As far as we know, they've said nothing, right?
"It says here, 'most entries have been written by soldiers and intelligence officers listening to reports radioed in from front line deployments.
"'Civilian victims of the coalition forces. At the same time – it says here – 'large numbers of attacks and deaths have come to light caused by troops firing on unarmed drivers, based on the fear that they might be suicide bombers.
"'A detailed report of how a child was murdered and another wounded when troops fired on the car in which they were traveling. As compensation for the attack, the family was paid 100,000 afganis, for a dead child, 1,600 euros.' Capitalism pays, 20,000 afganis, 335 euros for the wounded child, 10,000 afganis, 167 euros for the vehicle. And, in the reports, all of these are called 'small tragedies,' 'small tragedies.' This is the great threat, the greatest threat facing the planet today.
"The yankee empire, no doubt, has entered a period of political and economic decline, and above all ethical decline, but who can deny its great military power, which, combined with other factors, turns this, the most powerful empire in the world's history into a much greater threat to our peoples. What can we do? It has been said as well: unity, unity and more unity.
"As of January, is the U.S. Congress going to be extremely right wing? Well, the Venezuelan Parliament, as of January 5, will have to be extremely left wing.
"And I call upon the deputies elected by the people, by the popular movements, the social movements, the revolutionary parties; you have a big commitment, as of January 5.
"It is truly unheard of, and Eva will remind us. How is it that we continue to allow this? Having this Constitution, which cost so much, how many years of struggle, how much sweat, how much blood, how much effort, here it is clearly established - it was there in the first Constitution as well – we are a sovereign nation – at the risk of them once again calling us the foolish nation or the foolish revolution – or if we want to use more popular language, la revolución pendeja? How are going to allow political parties, NGO's, counterrevolutionary individuals to go on being financed with millions and millions of dollars by the yankee empire? And they're walking around over there, completely free to abuse and violate our Constitution and attempt to destabilize the country. I am imploring you to create a very severe law to prevent this. That has to be the way in which we must respond to the empire's aggression, the empire's threats, radicalizing our positions, not weakening absolutely anything, adjusting positions, establishing our point of view, consolidating revolutionary unity. Not just a parliament, much more to the left, much more radically to the left, we need a much more radically left government, an armed force – General Rangel, Chief General, we are promoting him on Saturday, November 27, Air Force Day – much more radically revolutionary, with the people.
"There is no place in our civilian ranks, in our military ranks, for vacillation. No, one line, radicalize the revolution! And this crude, treacherous bourgeoisie needs to feel it. This Venezuelan bourgeoisie, with no shame, no homeland, needs to feel it, needs to know that it is not acceptable for one of their most well-known representatives to go to the very Congress of the empire to attack Venezuela and continue to operate a television station here. Imagine something like that, something like that! The Venezuelan bourgeoisie needs to know that this aggression against the people is going to cost it dearly and not be parading around up there.
"I remember – José Vicente Rangel, and Maduro, and compañero are here, thank you for joining us – when, during the Betancourt government, deputies of left parties were arrested, without trial, no charges filed, with no proof whatsoever, they were taken to prison, denied parliamentary immunity.
"Within a few weeks, a group of deputies from the extreme right will enter this hall. Well, they will only need to be reminded that there is a Constitution. Just as the Communist Party, and many others, were banned here, in his time and they disregarded the parliamentary immunity of many deputies, with no proof, others left for the mountains, like the great Fabricio Ojeda, who renounced his seat and went to the mountains to shed his blood for the revolution and for the people. I cannot imagine that this dignified Parliament would allow, with the popular forces having the majority representation, the extreme right wing to come in here and try to subvert constitutional order. I assume, I am sure, that the state will activate all necessary mechanisms in defense of the Constitution and of the law, in the face of the acts of aggression which are to be expected.
"Finally, the threat… What did they call it in the terrorist' event? 'Threat in the Andes?' Right, Nicolas? Danger in the Andes, sounds like the title of a movie. Danger in the Andes; there should be a warning of danger in the world, an alert rather, the danger is worldwide.
"Right now, there is a situation, at this very moment, there on the Korean peninsula. When I left to come here, the news was still confusing, how confusing, the sinking of that South Korean ship, the Cheonan; but later evidence emerged that the ship was sunk by the United States. Now, on that small island, on that peninsula divided by the yankee empire, invaded, ravaged for years, there is a tense situation, some bombs, some dead, some wounded.
"Fidel Castro has been warning for some months of the grave dangers of a nuclear war. Just a while back, I was there, once again, and he explained to me, developing his thoughts – we know it very well already, of course – there's nothing better than dialogue – and he said to me: 'Chávez, any stray shot there in that region, full of weapons of mass destruction, atomic weapons, could escalate into a war, which would be at first, conventional…;' but he's convinced that it would escalate straight away into a nuclear war, which could mean the end of the human species. So, it's not the danger in the Andes, Washington's lackeys, the danger is worldwide.
"Here in Venezuela, as Eva said, a light was lit, and in Latin America, another was lit and one more and others were lit. We can say today – not Venezuela, no – Latin America is the continent of hope and the yankee empire cannot shut the doors of hope.
"To us, Venezuelan men and women, it has always fallen to us, for some reason, or reasons of different kinds, to be the vanguard in these struggles, over centuries.
"I see over there Miranda's portrait, Bolivar's and over there Martín Tovar y Tovar, Carabobo, and Roy has read all of that and stated passionately: 'It runs here, in our genes, in our blood.' He was paraphrasing Mao, the great helmsman.
"That empire, that failed state which is the United States, despite its immense power, despite its threats, is going to end up a giant paper tiger and we are obliged to become real steel tigers, little steel tigers, invincible, indomitable.
"Madam President, I promised to be brief and I said it at the beginning and I repeat: I believe that everything that needed to be said here was said by Eva Golinger, brave woman and this brave gentleman deputy Roy Daza, and compiled in this document which I understand is to be circulated throughout the four corners of Venezuela and beyond, throughout Latin America.
"I thank you for your invitation to this event, I appreciate the gesture and, just as one more, I join this gigantic battalion, to put it that way, in the defense of Venezuela, in defense of our Venezuela homeland.
"Looking at the picture, the monumental work by Tovar y Tovar is more than a picture; one sees the infantry there, the cavalry there. Let us be inspired: Infantry, ready the bayonets, at the double! Calvary, charge! in defense of the Bolivarian homeland, of the Bolivarian Alliance of our Peoples!
"Down with the yankee empire!" he exclaimed finally, with vivas for ALBA, the homeland and the Revolution.
There is not the slightest doubt that Chávez, a military professional but much more inclined to persuasion than force, will not vacillate in preventing the pro-imperialist and anti-patriotic right from provoking deceived Venezuelans against the public forces in order to make blood flow in the streets of Venezuela.
In Bolivia and in Venezuela, the imperialist mafia has received a clear and energetic response, one that possibly, it was not expecting.
Fidel Castro Ruz
November 25, 2010
6:34 p.m.Translated by Granma International
23 November, 2010
REMOTE robot murder - shameless blood profits
Read this UGLY AMERICAN:
Hey! Who's Flying This Thing?
By Rich Smith | motley fool blog
November 22, 2010
"There are those that see JSF as the last manned fighter. I'm one that's
inclined to believe that."
-- Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff
The last manned fighter, huh? So that's it -- Lockheed Martin wins,
everybody else loses, end of story? Well, not quite. It's been several
months since we last checked in on the UAV world, and as it turns out, quite
a lot has been happening in the field. Seems to me, it's high time for an
update on the fascinating story of flying robots ... that kill.
Where is the world is Osama bin Laden?
We begin today's column above the mountains of Northwestern Pakistan, where
just a few short weeks ago, America's flying robot army helped prevent a
massive "Mumbai-style" commando assault upon Europe's capital cities.
In September, CIA information on an impending al-Qaeda attack in Europe sent
more than a score of unmanned aerial vehicles winging their way to Pakistan,
where the ringleaders of the plot were hatching their nefarious plans. Not
everyone's pleased with the result, of course. Howls of protest over
violations of sovereignty abound. Yet if news reports are to believed, the
UAV strikes prevented a reprise of the 2008 assault on Mumbai, India, which
claimed the lives of 166 innocents in that city -- and this summer's planned
attacks would have been carried out against multiple targets in London,
Paris, and possibly Berlin.
France says: "Oui" want Predators, too
So ... whose UAVs were these, exactly, making the world "safe for
Democracy?" Odds are they were Predator drones manufactured by General
Dynamics (NYSE: GD) spinoff General Atomics -- and they're the most popular
Christmas gift item since sliced croissants. Speaking of which, we recently
learned that France wants to buy a few UAVs for its own use.
Spurred by the need for defense budget cuts, France and the U.K. said to be
collaborating to develop a new UAV jointly -- but it won't be ready before
2030 at the earliest. The U.K. is building another UAV (the BAE "Mantis")
in-house, but even that won't be ready for seven more years. Likewise, the
EADS Talarion isn't expected to arrive before 2013 at the earliest. So to
fill the gap, France wants to buy something "off the shelf" right now.
NATO recently opted to purchase eight Global Hawk UAVs from America's
Northrop Grumman (NYSE: NOC). And the ongoing dispute between EADS and
Boeing (NYSE: BA) over the KC-X Tanker project notwithstanding, France seems
to be leaning toward GA's Predator for its own air force. (Winners if this
deal goes through would include publicly traded United Technologies (NYSE:
UTX) and Honeywell (NYSE: HON), both of which manufacture engines for the
Unarmed UAVs? How quaint.
Why would the notoriously prickly over-defense-contracts French favor an
American arms manufacturer with their largesse? One word: Necessity.
Alternative systems are largely unproven, undeveloped, or out of its price
range. In contrast, the Predator is a proven weapons platform (saving the
Eiffel Tower from a possible terrorist attack this summer couldn't've hurt.)
It's also cheaper than the EADS Talarion or Israeli Heron. Best of all --
it's got guns. Most unmanned aerial vehicles, don't you know. They're
robotic spyplanes for the most part, only capable of shooting snapshots --
and yes, you know where I'm going with this.
Let's be honest here, Fools: One of the primary reasons we invest in defense
stocks is because they're fun. They go "bang!" Blow stuff up. As P.J.
O'Rourke once put it, describing the launch of a Tomahawk missile
aboard-ship in the Persian Gulf: "The flip lid whips open, and for a moment
you see ... something emerging in light and smoke ... a tower of blast and
dazzle blanketing one bright, rising, white, fiery column ... This is the
way to waste government money."
So un-armed spy planes? They're cool and all, I guess, but where's the
"bang" for our investing bucks? Where's the "blast and dazzle?"
Guns 'r' U.S.
Hint: Ask Raytheon (NYSE: RTN). Recognizing that the biggest factor in
keeping UAVs pacifistic is their small size, Raytheon's working up a series
of small-ordnance solutions to the problem of arming tiny UAVs. Its new
Griffin "precision-guided projectile," for example, masses just one-third
the weight of the better known Hellfire missile that Predators commonly
carry, but is still capable of getting the job done. Importantly, the
Griffin rocket will be small enough to load onto a Textron (NYSE: TXT)
Shadow UAV or Boeing ScanEagle.
With Griffin and its small-ordnance peers, Raytheon's in position to arm
small UAV fleets the world over and widen the arms race in the UAV space.
Today, only a very few nations boast UAVs capable of taking offensive action
on their own. But already, ScanEagles and Shadows span the globe, landing
sales competitions in Australia and Italy, Poland and Sweden, and even
Like it or not, this business is only going to get bigger. Because unlike
the manned fighter jet, UAVs are here to stay.
You fools actually believe that murdering people in Pakistan by remote control prevented terror in Germany or France?
u2r2h cressida basra
and look up GLADIO
The terror is synthetic, the weapons for hegemony, the paymasters are the 40 million US americans on food-stamps.
Europe: 6 weeks paid vacation BY LAW,
3 years paid parental leave, bullet trains, quiet cars, cheap bio-food, best beer 24/7. FREEDOM.
everything you hear about THE EURO... is perception management. Europeans are happy if yous think that the europeans have bad times... why make you envious?
Europe is booming, public owned infrastructure is lovely and humane, leasure times are long and fear is zilch, unlike in your police-state, homeless, christian-fear psychotic purgatory of Anglo America... deeeeeep in debt and can't even trade your way back to health and properity.
Only the vulgar-capitalist bastards that even the president is powerless to reign in, they are laughing all the way to their swiss bank account.
for more insights that you are not afforded by your military 911-killer rulers. (can't be, huh?)
and congratulations, fools, for the awesome weapons. Spent all you energies on the best in killing machines, you will live by fear.
PS. shameless are those speculating in weapons' profits
privateer military .. war to make profit...
welcome to the 19th century.
instead work and party fearless, join hands and celebrate in peace and great consciousness.
21 November, 2010
Thanksgiving!! USA traditional -- The stench was horrible ....
"To see them frying in the fire, and the streams of their blood quenching the same, and the stench was horrible, but the victory seemed a sweet sacrifice to the great delight of the Pilgrims, and they gave praise thereof to God"
-Captain John Mason (Frances Farmers Revenge) .
Upon the colonists' safe return from the massacre, Governor Winthrop proclaimed "This day forth shall be a day of celebration and thanksgiving for subduing the Pequots"
When news spread in England about the New World paradise, more Puritans and others immigrated. They considered the land as public domain because there were no fences. Colonists seized land, captured AmerIndians for slaves and killed the rest. The Pequot Nation hadn't agreed to the peace treaty Squanto negotiated and fought back in what's called "The Pequot War."
The 1637 massacre happened because colonists wanted revenge for a murder of an English trader who kidnapped children. They suspected Pequots killed him. William Bradford, in his History of the Plymouth Plantation, celebrated the travesty s a victory and Pilgrims thanked God for giving them swift triumph over their enemy.
Over 700 Pequot men, women and children gathered for their Green Corn Festival. In the predawn morning, they were surrounded by Dutch and English mercenaries who ordered them to come outside. Those who obeyed were shot or clubbed to death while women and children huddled inside the longhouse and were burned alive. The next day the governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony declared this travesty "A Day of Thanksgiving" because helpless people were murdered.
Future "Thanksgiving" Massacres Led to the Holiday's Recognition
Colonists and their AmerIndian allies attacked more villages. Women and children over the age of fourteen were sold into slavery; the rest, murdered. Ships full of slaves left New England. Bounties were paid for AmerIndian scalps. Churches, in what is now Stamford, Connecticut, declared a second day of "thanksgiving" to celebrate victory over "heathen savages." Colonists kicked decapitated Pequots' heads through the streets while they feasted. Wampanoagans weren't immune from persecution. Their chief's decapitated head, impaled on a pole in Plymouth, Massachusetts, was on display. "Thanksgiving" celebrations were held after all massacres.
George Washington suggested that one day of "thanksgiving" each year was to be commemorated, instead of celebrating every massacre. Later, Abraham Lincoln decreed Thanksgiving Day to be a legal national holiday on the same day he ordered troops to march against the starving Minnesota Sioux.
Thanksgiving Illusions about Pilgrims
These Pilgrims, Puritans, weren't merely religious conservatives persecuted by the English King for their beliefs. They were revolutionaries who intended to overthrow the government. The English considered the Puritans as religious bigots who wanted to found a new nation, independent from England. The New England Puritans used any tactics, including treachery, torture and genocide to achieve their goals.
Pilgrims viewed AmerIndians as heathens, instruments of the Devil. Squanto, the only baptized Christian, was regarded as an instrument of God to provide for their survival as his chosen people. Increase Mather, in a 1623 "thanksgiving" sermon, gave prayers of gratitude to God for the smallpox plague which wiped out many Wampanoagans.
The Wampanoagans didn't totally trust the colonists. Squanto loved Weymouth who had been his mentor and, most likely, thought the Pilgrims were like him. One of his tribe's religious traditions was to give charity to the vulnerable and hospitality to anyone who came to them with needs.
The Wampanoagans, who supplied most of the feasts' food, were invited to the first Thanksgiving celebration to negotiate a treaty that would secure Plymouth Plantation's land, former Patuxet site, for the Pilgrims
Pequot Tribe's 1637 Thanksgiving Massacre: A Tragedy
The Pequots weren't the only AmerIndians who were persecuted. Cherokees and other Eastern tribes endured the Trail of Tears,Nunna daul Tsuny, "The Trail Where They Cried," when they were ousted from their land and traveled a thousand miles to "Indian Territory" in the West. Approximately 4,000 AmerIndians died during the journey. An estimated 150 to300 Lakota Sioux men, women and children were killed and 51 wounded in the Wounded Knee massacre. The list goes on….
Thanksgiving should be a time for showing gratitude for food and fellowship, but, to the AmerIndians who suffered from the "thanksgiving" massacres, it wasn't.
THE REAL STORY OF THANKSGIVING
by Susan Bates
Most of us associate the holiday with happy Pilgrims and Indians sitting down to a big feast. And that did happen - once.
The story began in 1614 when a band of English explorers sailed home to England with a ship full of Patuxet Indians bound for slavery. They left behind smallpox which virtually wiped out those who had escaped. By the time the Pilgrims arrived in Massachusetts Bay they found only one living Patuxet Indian, a man named Squanto who had survived slavery in England and knew their language. He taught them to grow corn and to fish, and negotiated a peace treaty between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Nation. At the end of their first year, the Pilgrims held a great feast honoring Squanto and the Wampanoags.
But as word spread in England about the paradise to be found in the new world, religious zealots called Puritans began arriving by the boat load. Finding no fences around the land, they considered it to be in the public domain. Joined by other British settlers, they seized land, capturing strong young Natives for slaves and killing the rest. But the Pequot Nation had not agreed to the peace treaty Squanto had negotiated and they fought back. The Pequot War was one of the bloodiest Indian wars ever fought.
In 1637 near present day Groton, Connecticut, over 700 men, women and children of the Pequot Tribe had gathered for their annual Green Corn Festival which is our Thanksgiving celebration. In the predawn hours the sleeping Indians were surrounded by English and Dutch mercenaries who ordered them to come outside. Those who came out were shot or clubbed to death while the terrified women and children who huddled inside the longhouse were burned alive. The next day the governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony declared "A Day Of Thanksgiving" because 700 unarmed men, women and children had been murdered.
Cheered by their "victory", the brave colonists and their Indian allies attacked village after village. Women and children over 14 were sold into slavery while the rest were murdered. Boats loaded with a many as 500 slaves regularly left the ports of New England. Bounties were paid for Indian scalps to encourage as many deaths as possible.
Following an especially successful raid against the Pequot in what is now Stamford, Connecticut, the churches announced a second day of "thanksgiving" to celebrate victory over the heathen savages. During the feasting, the hacked off heads of Natives were kicked through the streets like soccer balls. Even the friendly Wampanoag did not escape the madness. Their chief was beheaded, and his head impaled on a pole in Plymouth, Massachusetts -- where it remained on display for 24 years.
The killings became more and more frenzied, with days of thanksgiving feasts being held after each successful massacre. George Washington finally suggested that only one day of Thanksgiving per year be set aside instead of celebrating each and every massacre. Later Abraham Lincoln decreed Thanksgiving Day to be a legal national holiday during the Civil War -- on the same day he ordered troops to march against the starving Sioux in Minnesota.
This story doesn't have quite the same fuzzy feelings associated with it as the one where the Indians and Pilgrims are all sitting down together at the big feast. But we need to learn our true history so it won't ever be repeated. Next Thanksgiving, when you gather with your loved ones to Thank God for all your blessings, think about those people who only wanted to live their lives and raise their families. They, also took time out to say "thank you" to Creator for all their blessings.
Our Thanks to Hill & Holler Column by Susan Bates email@example.com
More About Thanksgiving...
INTRODUCTION FOR TEACHERS
By Chuck Larsen
This is a particularly difficult introduction to write. I have been a public schools teacher for twelve years, and I am also a historian and have written several books on American and Native American history. I also just happen to be Quebeque French, Metis, Ojibwa, and Iroquois. Because my Indian ancestors were on both sides of the struggle between the Puritans and the New England Indians and I am well versed in my cultural heritage and history both as an Anishnabeg (Algokin) and Hodenosione (Iroquois), it was felt that I could bring a unique insight to the project.
For an Indian, who is also a school teacher, Thanksgiving was never an easy holiday for me to deal with in class. I sometimes have felt like I learned too much about "the Pilgrims and the Indians." Every year I have been faced with the professional and moral dilemma of just how to be honest and informative with my children at Thanksgiving without passing on historical distortions, and racial and cultural stereotypes.
The problem is that part of what you and I learned in our own childhood about the "Pilgrims" and "Squanto" and the "First Thanksgiving" is a mixture of both history and myth. But the THEME of Thanksgiving has truth and integrity far above and beyond what we and our forebearers have made of it. Thanksgiving is a bigger concept than just the story of the founding of the Plymouth Plantation.
So what do we teach to our children? We usually pass on unquestioned what we all received in our own childhood classrooms. I have come to know both the truths and the myths about our "First Thanksgiving," and I feel we need to try to reach beyond the myths to some degree of historic truth. This text is an attempt to do this.
At this point you are probably asking, "What is the big deal about Thanksgiving and the Pilgrims?" "What does this guy mean by a mixture of truths and myth?" That is just what this introduction is all about. I propose that there may be a good deal that many of us do not know about our Thanksgiving holiday and also about the "First Thanksgiving" story. I also propose that what most of us have learned about the Pilgrims and the Indians who were at the first Thanksgiving at Plymouth Plantation is only part of the truth. When you build a lesson on only half of the information, then you are not teaching the whole truth. That is why I used the word myth. So where do you start to find out more about the holiday and our modern stories about how it began?
A good place to start is with a very important book, "The Invasion of America," by Francis Jennings. It is a very authoritative text on the settlement of New England and the evolution of Indian/White relations in the New England colonies. I also recommend looking up any good text on British history. Check out the British Civil War of 1621-1642, Oliver Cromwell, and the Puritan uprising of 1653 which ended parliamentary government in England until 1660. The history of the Puritan experience in New England really should not be separated from the history of the Puritan experience in England. You should also realize that the "Pilgrims" were a sub sect, or splinter group, of the Puritan movement. They came to America to achieve on this continent what their Puritan bretheran continued to strive for in England; and when the Puritans were forced from England, they came to New England and soon absorbed the original "Pilgrims."
As the editor, I have read all the texts listed in our bibliography, and many more, in preparing this material for you. I want you to read some of these books. So let me use my editorial license to deliberately provoke you a little. When comparing the events stirred on by the Puritans in England with accounts of Puritan/Pilgrim activities in New England in the same era, several provocative things suggest themselves:
1. The Puritans were not just simple religious conservatives persecuted by the King and the Church of England for their unorthodox beliefs. They were political revolutionaries who not only intended to overthrow the government of England, but who actually did so in 1649.
2. The Puritan "Pilgrims" who came to New England were not simply refugees who decided to "put their fate in God's hands" in the "empty wilderness" of North America, as a generation of Hollywood movies taught us. In any culture at any time, settlers on a frontier are most often outcasts and fugitives who, in some way or other, do not fit into the mainstream of their society. This is not to imply that people who settle on frontiers have no redeeming qualities such as bravery, etc., but that the images of nobility that we associate with the Puritans are at least in part the good "P.R." efforts of later writers who have romanticized them.(1) It is also very plausible that this unnaturally noble image of the Puritans is all wrapped up with the mythology of "Noble Civilization" vs. "Savagery."(2) At any rate, mainstream Englishmen considered the Pilgrims to be deliberate religious dropouts who intended to found a new nation completely independent from non-Puritan England. In 1643 the Puritan/Pilgrims declared themselves an independent confederacy, one hundred and forty-three years before the American Revolution. They believed in the imminent occurrence of Armegeddon in Europe and hoped to establish here in the new world the "Kingdom of God" foretold in the book of Revelation. They diverged from their Puritan brethren who remained in England only in that they held little real hope of ever being able to successfully overthrow the King and Parliament and, thereby, impose their "Rule of Saints" (strict Puritan orthodoxy) on the rest of the British people. So they came to America not just in one ship (the Mayflower) but in a hundred others as well, with every intention of taking the land away from its native people to build their prophesied "Holy Kingdom."(3)
3. The Pilgrims were not just innocent refugees from religious persecution. They were victims of bigotry in England, but some of them were themselves religious bigots by our modern standards. The Puritans and the Pilgrims saw themselves as the "Chosen Elect" mentioned in the book of Revelation. They strove to "purify" first themselves and then everyone else of everything they did not accept in their own interpretation of scripture. Later New England Puritans used any means, including deceptions, treachery, torture, war, and genocide to achieve that end.(4) They saw themselves as fighting a holy war against Satan, and everyone who disagreed with them was the enemy. This rigid fundamentalism was transmitted to America by the Plymouth colonists, and it sheds a very different light on the "Pilgrim" image we have of them. This is best illustrated in the written text of the Thanksgiving sermon delivered at Plymouth in 1623 by "Mather the Elder." In it, Mather the Elder gave special thanks to God for the devastating plague of smallpox which wiped out the majority of the Wampanoag Indians who had been their benefactors. He praised God for destroying "chiefly young men and children, the very seeds of increase, thus clearing the forests to make way for a better growth", i.e., the Pilgrims.(5) In as much as these Indians were the Pilgrim's benefactors, and Squanto, in particular, was the instrument of their salvation that first year, how are we to interpret this apparent callousness towards their misfortune?
4. The Wampanoag Indians were not the "friendly savages" some of us were told about when we were in the primary grades. Nor were they invited out of the goodness of the Pilgrims' hearts to share the fruits of the Pilgrims' harvest in a demonstration of Christian charity and interracial brotherhood. The Wampanoag were members of a widespread confederacy of Algonkian-speaking peoples known as the League of the Delaware. For six hundred years they had been defending themselves from my other ancestors, the Iroquois, and for the last hundred years they had also had encounters with European fishermen and explorers but especially with European slavers, who had been raiding their coastal villages.(6) They knew something of the power of the white people, and they did not fully trust them. But their religion taught that they were to give charity to the helpless and hospitality to anyone who came to them with empty hands.(7) Also, Squanto, the Indian hero of the Thanksgiving story, had a very real love for a British explorer named John Weymouth, who had become a second father to him several years before the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth. Clearly, Squanto saw these Pilgrims as Weymouth's people.(8) To the Pilgrims the Indians were heathens and, therefore, the natural instruments of the Devil. Squanto, as the only educated and baptized Christian among the Wampanoag, was seen as merely an instrument of God, set in the wilderness to provide for the survival of His chosen people, the Pilgrims. The Indians were comparatively powerful and, therefore, dangerous; and they were to be courted until the next ships arrived with more Pilgrim colonists and the balance of power shifted. The Wampanoag were actually invited to that Thanksgiving feast for the purpose of negotiating a treaty that would secure the lands of the Plymouth Plantation for the Pilgrims. It should also be noted that the INDIANS, possibly out of a sense of charity toward their hosts, ended up bringing the majority of the food for the feast.(9)
5. A generation later, after the balance of power had indeed shifted, the Indian and White children of that Thanksgiving were striving to kill each other in the genocidal conflict known as King Philip's War. At the end of that conflict most of the New England Indians were either exterminated or refugees among the French in Canada, or they were sold into slavery in the Carolinas by the Puritans. So successful was this early trade in Indian slaves that several Puritan ship owners in Boston began the practice of raiding the Ivory Coast of Africa for black slaves to sell to the proprietary colonies of the South, thus founding the American-based slave trade.(10)
Obviously there is a lot more to the story of Indian/Puritan relations in New England than in the thanksgiving stories we heard as children. Our contemporary mix of myth and history about the "First" Thanksgiving at Plymouth developed in the 1890s and early 1900s. Our country was desperately trying to pull together its many diverse peoples into a common national identity. To many writers and educators at the end of the last century and the beginning of this one, this also meant having a common national history. This was the era of the "melting pot" theory of social progress, and public education was a major tool for social unity. It was with this in mind that the federal government declared the last Thursday in November as the legal holiday of Thanksgiving in 1898.
In consequence, what started as an inspirational bit of New England folklore, soon grew into the full-fledged American Thanksgiving we now know. It emerged complete with stereotyped Indians and stereotyped Whites, incomplete history, and a mythical significance as our "First Thanksgiving." But was it really our FIRST American Thanksgiving?
Now that I have deliberately provoked you with some new information and different opinions, please take the time to read some of the texts in our bibliography. I want to encourage you to read further and form your own opinions. There really is a TRUE Thanksgiving story of Plymouth Plantation. But I strongly suggest that there always has been a Thanksgiving story of some kind or other for as long as there have been human beings. There was also a "First" Thanksgiving in America, but it was celebrated thirty thousand years ago.(11) At some time during the New Stone Age (beginning about ten thousand years ago) Thanksgiving became associated with giving thanks to God for the harvests of the land. Thanksgiving has always been a time of people coming together, so thanks has also been offered for that gift of fellowship between us all. Every last Thursday in November we now partake in one of the OLDEST and most UNIVERSAL of human celebrations, and THERE ARE MANY THANKSGIVING STORIES TO TELL.
As for Thanksgiving week at Plymouth Plantation in 1621, the friendship was guarded and not always sincere, and the peace was very soon abused. But for three days in New England's history, peace and friendship were there.
So here is a story for your children. It is as kind and gentle a balance of historic truth and positive inspiration as its writers and this editor can make it out to be. I hope it will adequately serve its purpose both for you and your students, and I also hope this work will encourage you to look both deeper and farther, for Thanksgiving is Thanksgiving all around the world.
Chuck Larsen Tacoma Public Schools September, 1986
FOOTNOTES FOR TEACHER INTRODUCTION
(1) See Berkhofer, Jr., R.F., "The White Man's Indian," references to Puritans, pp. 27, 80-85, 90, 104, & 130.
(2) See Berkhofer, Jr., R.F., "The White Man's Indian," references to frontier concepts of savagery in index. Also see Jennings, Francis, "The Invasion of America," the myth of savagery, pp. 6-12, 15-16, & 109-110.
(3) See Blitzer, Charles, "Age of Kings," Great Ages of Man series, references to Puritanism, pp. 141, 144 & 145-46. Also see Jennings, Francis, "The Invasion of America," references to Puritan human motives, pp. 4-6, 43- 44 and 53.
(4) See "Chronicles of American Indian Protest," pp. 6-10. Also see Armstrong, Virginia I., "I Have Spoken," reference to Cannonchet and his village, p. 6. Also see Jennings, Francis, "The Invasion of America," Chapter 9 "Savage War," Chapter 13 "We must Burn Them," and Chapter 17 "Outrage Bloody and Barbarous."
(5) See "Chronicles of American Indian Protest," pp. 6-9. Also see Berkhofer, Jr., R.F., "The White Man's Indian," the comments of Cotton Mather, pp. 37 & 82-83.
(6) See Larsen, Charles M., "The Real Thanksgiving," pp. 3-4. Also see Graff, Steward and Polly Ann, "Squanto, Indian Adventurer." Also see "Handbook of North American Indians," Vol. 15, the reference to Squanto on p. 82.
(7) See Benton-Banai, Edward, "The Mishomis Book," as a reference on general "Anishinabe" (the Algonkin speaking peoples) religious beliefs and practices. Also see Larsen, Charles M., "The Real Thanksgiving," reference to religious life on p. 1.
(8) See Graff, Stewart and Polly Ann, "Squanto, Indian Adventurer." Also see Larsen, Charles M., "The Real Thanksgiving." Also see Bradford, Sir William, "Of Plymouth Plantation," and "Mourt's Relation."
(9) See Larsen, Charles M., "The Real Thanksgiving," the letter of Edward Winslow dated 1622, pp. 5-6.
(10) See "Handbook of North American Indians," Vol. 15, pp. 177-78. Also see "Chronicles of American Indian Protest," p. 9, the reference to the enslavement of King Philip's family. Also see Larsen, Charles, M., "The Real Thanksgiving," pp. 8-11, "Destruction of the Massachusetts Indians."
(11) Best current estimate of the first entry of people into the Americas confirmed by archaeological evidence that is datable.
THE PLYMOUTH THANKSGIVING STORY
By Chuck Larsen
When the Pilgrims crossed the Atlantic Ocean in 1620, they landed on the rocky shores of a territory that was inhabited by the Wampanoag (Wam pa NO ag) Indians. The Wampanoags were part of the Algonkian-speaking peoples, a large group that was part of the Woodland Culture area. These Indians lived in villages along the coast of what is now Massachusetts and Rhode Island. They lived in round- roofed houses called wigwams. These were made of poles covered with flat sheets of elm or birch bark. Wigwams differ in construction from tipis that were used by Indians of the Great Plains.
The Wampanoags moved several times during each year in order to get food. In the spring they would fish in the rivers for salmon and herring. In the planting season they moved to the forest to hunt deer and other animals. After the end of the hunting season people moved inland where there was greater protection from the weather. From December to April they lived on food that they stored during the earlier months.
The basic dress for men was the breech clout, a length of deerskin looped over a belt in back and in front. Women wore deerskin wrap-around skirts. Deerskin leggings and fur capes made from deer, beaver, otter, and bear skins gave protection during the colder seasons, and deerskin moccasins were worn on the feet. Both men and women usually braided their hair and a single feather was often worn in the back of the hair by men. They did not have the large feathered headdresses worn by people in the Plains Culture area.
There were two language groups of Indians in New England at this time. The Iroquois were neighbors to the Algonkian-speaking people. Leaders of the Algonquin and Iroquois people were called "sachems" (SAY chems). Each village had its own sachem and tribal council. Political power flowed upward from the people. Any individual, man or woman, could participate, but among the Algonquins more political power was held by men. Among the Iroquois, however, women held the deciding vote in the final selection of who would represent the group. Both men and women enforced the laws of the village and helped solve problems. The details of their democratic system were so impressive that about 150 years later Benjamin Franklin invited the Iroquois to Albany, New York, to explain their system to a delegation who then developed the "Albany Plan of Union." This document later served as a model for the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution of the United States.
These Indians of the Eastern Woodlands called the turtle, the deer and the fish their brothers. They respected the forest and everything in it as equals. Whenever a hunter made a kill, he was careful to leave behind some bones or meat as a spiritual offering, to help other animals survive. Not to do so would be considered greedy. The Wampanoags also treated each other with respect. Any visitor to a Wampanoag home was provided with a share of whatever food the family had, even if the supply was low. This same courtesy was extended to the Pilgrims when they met.
We can only guess what the Wampanoags must have thought when they first saw the strange ships of the Pilgrims arriving on their shores. But their custom was to help visitors, and they treated the newcomers with courtesy. It was mainly because of their kindness that the Pilgrims survived at all. The wheat the Pilgrims had brought with them to plant would not grow in the rocky soil. They needed to learn new ways for a new world, and the man who came to help them was called "Tisquantum" (Tis SKWAN tum) or "Squanto" (SKWAN toe).
Squanto was originally from the village of Patuxet (Pa TUK et) and a member of the Pokanokit Wampanoag nation. Patuxet once stood on the exact site where the Pilgrims built Plymouth. In 1605, fifteen years before the Pilgrims came, Squanto went to England with a friendly English explorer named John Weymouth. He had many adventures and learned to speak English. Squanto came back to New England with Captain Weymouth. Later Squanto was captured by a British slaver who raided the village and sold Squanto to the Spanish in the Caribbean Islands. A Spanish Franciscan priest befriended Squanto and helped him to get to Spain and later on a ship to England. Squanto then found Captain Weymouth, who paid his way back to his homeland. In England Squanto met Samoset of the Wabanake (Wab NAH key) Tribe, who had also left his native home with an English explorer. They both returned together to Patuxet in 1620. When they arrived, the village was deserted and there were skeletons everywhere. Everyone in the village had died from an illness the English slavers had left behind. Squanto and Samoset went to stay with a neighboring village of Wampanoags.
One year later, in the spring, Squanto and Samoset were hunting along the beach near Patuxet. They were startled to see people from England in their deserted village. For several days, they stayed nearby observing the newcomers. Finally they decided to approach them. Samoset walked into the village and said "welcome," Squanto soon joined him. The Pilgrims were very surprised to meet two Indians who spoke English.
The Pilgrims were not in good condition. They were living in dirt-covered shelters, there was a shortage of food, and nearly half of them had died during the winter. They obviously needed help and the two men were a welcome sight. Squanto, who probably knew more English than any other Indian in North America at that time, decided to stay with the Pilgrims for the next few months and teach them how to survive in this new place. He brought them deer meat and beaver skins. He taught them how to cultivate corn and other new vegetables and how to build Indian-style houses. He pointed out poisonous plants and showed how other plants could be used as medicine. He explained how to dig and cook clams, how to get sap from the maple trees, use fish for fertilizer, and dozens of other skills needed for their survival.
By the time fall arrived things were going much better for the Pilgrims, thanks to the help they had received. The corn they planted had grown well. There was enough food to last the winter. They were living comfortably in their Indian-style wigwams and had also managed to build one European-style building out of squared logs. This was their church. They were now in better health, and they knew more about surviving in this new land. The Pilgrims decided to have a thanksgiving feast to celebrate their good fortune. They had observed thanksgiving feasts in November as religious obligations in England for many years before coming to the New World.
The Algonkian tribes held six thanksgiving festivals during the year. The beginning of the Algonkian year was marked by the Maple Dance which gave thanks to the Creator for the maple tree and its syrup. This ceremony occurred when the weather was warm enough for the sap to run in the maple trees, sometimes as early as February. Second was the planting feast, where the seeds were blessed. The strawberry festival was next, celebrating the first fruits of the season. Summer brought the green corn festival to give thanks for the ripening corn. In late fall, the harvest festival gave thanks for the food they had grown. Mid-winter was the last ceremony of the old year. When the Indians sat down to the "first Thanksgiving" with the Pilgrims, it was really the fifth thanksgiving of the year for them!
Captain Miles Standish, the leader of the Pilgrims, invited Squanto, Samoset, Massasoit (the leader of the Wampanoags), and their immediate families to join them for a celebration, but they had no idea how big Indian families could be. As the Thanksgiving feast began, the Pilgrims were overwhelmed at the large turnout of ninety relatives that Squanto and Samoset brought with them. The Pilgrims were not prepared to feed a gathering of people that large for three days. Seeing this, Massasoit gave orders to his men within the first hour of his arrival to go home and get more food. Thus it happened that the Indians supplied the majority of the food: Five deer, many wild turkeys, fish, beans, squash, corn soup, corn bread, and berries. Captain Standish sat at one end of a long table and the Clan Chief Massasoit sat at the other end. For the first time the Wampanoag people were sitting at a table to eat instead of on mats or furs spread on the ground. The Indian women sat together with the Indian men to eat. The Pilgrim women, however, stood quietly behind the table and waited until after their men had eaten, since that was their custom.
For three days the Wampanoags feasted with the Pilgrims. It was a special time of friendship between two very different groups of people. A peace and friendship agreement was made between Massasoit and Miles Standish giving the Pilgrims the clearing in the forest where the old Patuxet village once stood to build their new town of Plymouth.
It would be very good to say that this friendship lasted a long time; but, unfortunately, that was not to be. More English people came to America, and they were not in need of help from the Indians as were the original Pilgrims. Many of the newcomers forgot the help the Indians had given them. Mistrust started to grow and the friendship weakened. The Pilgrims started telling their Indian neighbors that their Indian religion and Indian customs were wrong. The Pilgrims displayed an intolerance toward the Indian religion similar to the intolerance displayed toward the less popular religions in Europe. The relationship deteriorated and within a few years the children of the people who ate together at the first Thanksgiving were killing one another in what came to be called King Phillip's War.
It is sad to think that this happened, but it is important to understand all of the story and not just the happy part. Today the town of Plymouth Rock has a Thanksgiving ceremony each year in remembrance of the first Thanksgiving. There are still Wampanoag people living in Massachusetts. In 1970, they asked one of them to speak at the ceremony to mark the 350th anniversary of the Pilgrim's arrival. Here is part of what was said:
"Today is a time of celebrating for you -- a time of looking back to the first days of white people in America. But it is not a time of celebrating for me. It is with a heavy heart that I look back upon what happened to my People. When the Pilgrims arrived, we, the Wampanoags, welcomed them 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 tribe. That we and other Indians living near the settlers would be killed by their guns or dead from diseases that we caught from them. Let us always remember, the Indian is and was just as human as the white people.
Although our way of life is almost gone, we, the Wampanoags, still walk the lands of Massachusetts. What has happened cannot be changed. But today we work toward a better America, a more Indian America where people and nature once again are important."
The Puritan colonists of Massachusetts embraced a line from Psalms 2:8.
"Ask of me, and I shall give thee, the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession."
* * * * * *
It is a deep thing that people still celebrate the survival of the early colonists at Plymouth — by giving thanks to the Christian God who supposedly protected and championed the European invasion. The real meaning of all that, then and now, needs to be continually excavated. The myths and lies that surround the past are constantly draped over the horrors and tortures of our present.
Every schoolchild in the U.S. has been taught that the Pilgrims of the Plymouth Colony invited the local Indians to a major harvest feast after surviving their first bitter year in New England. But the real history of Thanksgiving is a story of the murder of indigenous people and the theft of their land by European colonialists–and of the ruthless ways of capitalism.
This piece is intended to be shared at this holiday time. Pass it on. Serve a little truth with the usual stuffing.
* * * * *
In mid-winter 1620 the English ship Mayflower landed on the North American coast, delivering 102 exiles. The original Native people of this stretch of shoreline had already been killed off. In 1614 a British expedition had landed there. When they left they took 24 Indians as slaves and left smallpox behind. Three years of plague wiped out between 90 and 96 percent of the inhabitants of the coast, destroying most villages completely.
In mid-winter 1620 the English ship Mayflower landed on the North American coast, delivering 102 exiles. The original Native people of this stretch of shoreline had already been killed off. In 1614 a British expedition had landed there. When they left they took 24 Indians as slaves and left smallpox behind. Three years of plague wiped out between 90 and 96 percent of the inhabitants of the coast, destroying most villages completely.
After the first colonies were establshed — the Pequod war
The Europeans landed and built their colony called "the Plymouth Plantation" near the deserted ruins of the Indian village of Pawtuxet. They ate from abandoned cornfields grown wild. Only one Pawtuxet named Squanto had survived–he had spent the last years as a slave to the English and Spanish in Europe. Squanto spoke the colonists' language and taught them how to plant corn and how to catch fish until the first harvest. Squanto also helped the colonists negotiate a peace treaty with the nearby Wampanoag tribe, led by the chief Massasoit.
These were very lucky breaks for the colonists. The first Virginia settlement had been wiped out before they could establish themselves. Thanks to the good will of the Wampanoag, the settlers not only survived their first year but had an alliance with the Wampanoags that would give them almost two decades of peace.
John Winthrop, a founder of the Massahusetts Bay colony considered this wave of illness and death to be a divine miracle. He wrote to a friend in England, "But for the natives in these parts, God hath so pursued them, as for 300 miles space the greatest part of them are swept away by smallpox which still continues among them. So as God hath thereby cleared our title to this place, those who remain in these parts, being in all not 50, have put themselves under our protection."
The deadly impact of European diseases and the good will of the Wampanoag allowed the settlers to survive their first year.
In celebration of their good fortune, the colony's governor, William Bradford, declared a three-day feast of thanksgiving after that first harvest of 1621.
How the Puritans Stole the Land
Original inhabitants — before the European invasion
But the peace that produced the Thanksgiving Feast of 1621 meant that the Puritans would have 15 years to establish a firm foothold on the coast. Until 1629 there were no more than 300 settlers in New England, scattered in small and isolated settlements. But their survival inspired a wave of Puritan invasion that soon established growing Massachusetts towns north of Plymouth: Boston and Salem. For 10 years, boatloads of new settlers came.
And as the number of Europeans increased, they proved not nearly so generous as the Wampanoags.
On arrival, the Puritans and other religious sects discussed "who legally owns all this land." They had to decide this, not just because of Anglo-Saxon traditions, but because their particular way of farming was based on individual–not communal or tribal–ownership. This debate over land ownership reveals that bourgeois "rule of law" does not mean "protect the rights of the masses of people."
Some settlers argued that the land belonged to the Indians. These forces were excommunicated and expelled. Massachusetts Governor Winthrop declared the Indians had not "subdued" the land, and therefore all uncultivated lands should, according to English Common Law, be considered "public domain." This meant they belonged to the king. In short, the colonists decided they did not need to consult the Indians when they seized new lands, they only had to consult the representative of the crown (meaning the local governor).
Training of the Massachusetts militia, 1637. The means of genocide and theft.
The colonists embraced a line from Psalms 2:8.
"Ask of me, and I shall give thee, the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession."
Since then, European settler states have similarly declared god their real estate agent: from the Boers seizing South Africa to the Zionists seizing Palestine.
The European immigrants took land and enslaved Indians to help them farm it. By 1637 there were about 2,000 British settlers. They pushed out from the coast and decided to remove the inhabitants.
The Shining City on the Hill
Where did the Plymouth and Massachusetts colonies of Puritan and "separatist" pilgrims come from and what were they really all about?
A self-serving historical lie — The myth of coexistance and love promoted by Thanksgiving
Governor Winthrop, a founder of the Massachusetts colony, said, "We shall be as a City upon a Hill, the eyes of all people are upon us." The Mayflower Puritans had been driven out of England as subversives. The Puritans saw this religious colony as a model of a social and political order that they believed all of Europe should adopt.
The Puritan movement was part of a sweeping revolt within English society against the ruling feudal order of wealthy lords. Only a few decades after the establishment of Plymouth, the Puritan Revolution came to power in England. They killed the king, won a civil war, set up a short-lived republic, and brutally conquered the neighboring people of Ireland to create a larger national market.
The famous Puritan intolerance was part of a determined attempt to challenge the decadence and wastefulness of the rich aristocratic landlords of England. The Puritans wanted to use the power of state punishment to uproot old and still dominant ways of thinking and behaving.
The new ideas of the Puritans served the needs of merchant capitalist accumulation. The extreme discipline, thrift and modesty the Puritans demanded of each other corresponded to a new and emerging form of ownership and production. Their so-called "Protestant Ethic" was an early form of the capitalist ethic. From the beginning, the Puritan colonies intended to grow through capitalist trade–trading fish and fur with England while they traded pots, knives, axes, alcohol and other English goods with the Indians.
The New England were ruled by a government in which only the male heads of families had a voice. Women, Indians, slaves, servants, youth were neither heard nor represented. In the Puritan schoolbooks, the old law "honor thy father and thy mother" was interpreted to mean honoring "All our Superiors, whether in Family, School, Church, and Commonwealth." And, the real truth was that the colonies were fundamentally controlled by the most powerful merchants.
The Puritan fathers believed they were the Chosen People of an infinite god and that this justified anything they did. They were Calvinists who believed that the vast majority of humanity was predestined to damnation. This meant that while they were firm in fighting for their own capitalist right to accumulate and prosper, they were quick to oppress the masses of people in Ireland, Scotland and North America, once they seized the power to set up their new bourgeois order. Those who rejected the narrow religious rules of the colonies were often simply expelled "out into the wilderness."
The Massachusetts colony (north of Plymouth) was founded when Puritan stockholders had gotten control of an English trading company. The king had given this company the right to govern its own internal affairs, and in 1629 the stockholders simply voted to transfer the company to North American shores–making this colony literally a self-governing company of stockholders!
In U.S. schools, students are taught that the Mayflower compact of Plymouth contained the seeds of "modern democracy" and "rule of law." But by looking at the actual history of the Puritans, we can see that this so-called "modern democracy" was (and still is) a capitalist democracy based on all kinds of oppression and serving the class interests of the ruling capitalists.
The reality of colonial massacre and enslavement
In short, the Puritan movement developed as an early revolutionary challenge to the old feudal order in England. They were the soul of primitive capitalist accumulation. And transferred to the shores of North America, they immediately revealed how heartless and oppressive that capitalist soul is.
The Birth of "The American Way of War"
In the Connecticut Valley, the powerful Pequot tribe had not entered an alliance with the British (as had the Narragansett, the Wampanoag, and the Massachusetts peoples). At first they were far from the centers of colonization. Then, in 1633, the British stole the land where the city of Hartford now sits–land which the Pequot had recently conquered from another tribe. That same year two British slave raiders were killed. The colonists demanded that the Indians who killed the slavers be turned over. The Pequot refused.
The Puritan preachers said, from Romans 13:2, "Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation." The colonial governments gathered an armed force of 240 under the command of John Mason. They were joined by a thousand Narragansett warriors. The historian Francis Jennings writes: "Mason proposed to avoid attacking Pequot warriors which would have overtaxed his unseasoned, unreliable troops. Battle, as such, was not his purpose. Battle is only one of the ways to destroy an enemy's will to fight. Massacre can accomplish the same end with less risk, and Mason had determined that massacre would be his objective."
The colonist army surrounded a fortified Pequot village on the Mystic River. At sunrise, as the inhabitants slept, the Puritan soldiers set the village on fire.
William Bradford, Governor of Plymouth, wrote: "Those that escaped the fire were slain with the sword; some hewed to pieces, others run through with their rapiers, so that they were quickly dispatched and very few escaped. It was conceived they thus destroyed about 400 at this time. It was a fearful sight to see them thus frying in the fire…horrible was the stink and scent thereof, but the victory seemed a sweet sacrifice, and they gave the prayers thereof to God, who had wrought so wonderfully for them."
Mason himself wrote: "It may be demanded…Should not Christians have more mercy and compassion? But…sometimes the Scripture declareth women and children must perish with their parents…. We had sufficient light from the word of God for our proceedings."
Three hundred and fifty years later the Puritan phrase "a shining city on the hill" became a favorite quote of conservative speechwriters.
Discovering the Profits of Slavery
This so-called "Pequot war" was a one-sided murder and slaving expedition. Over 180 captives were taken. After consulting the bible again, in Leviticus 24:44, the colonial authorities found justification to kill most of the Pequot men and enslave the captured women and their children. Only 500 Pequot remained alive and free. In 1975 the official number of Pequot living in Connecticut was 21.
Some of the war captives were given to the Narragansett and Massachusetts allies of the British. Even before the arrival of Europeans, Native peoples of North America had widely practiced taking war captives from other tribes as hostages and slaves.
The remaining captives were sold to British plantation colonies in the West Indies to be worked to death in a new form of slavery that served the emerging capitalist world market. And with that, the merchants of Boston made a historic discovery: the profits they made from the sale of human beings virtually paid for the cost of seizing them.
One account says that enslaving Indians quickly became a "mania with speculators." These early merchant capitalists of Massachusetts started to make genocide pay for itself. The slave trade, first in captured Indians and soon in kidnapped Africans, quickly became a backbone of New England merchant capitalism.
Thanksgiving in the Manhattan Colony
In 1641 the Dutch governor Kieft of Manhattan offered the first "scalp bounty"–his government paid money for the scalp of each Indian brought to them. A couple years later, Kieft ordered the massacre of the Wappingers, a friendly tribe. Eighty were killed and their severed heads were kicked like soccer balls down the streets of Manhattan. One captive was castrated, skinned alive and forced to eat his own flesh while the Dutch governor watched and laughed. Then Kieft hired the notorious Underhill who had commanded in the Pequot war to carry out a similar massacre near Stamford, Connecticut. The village was set fire, and 500 Indian residents were put to the sword.
A day of thanksgiving was proclaimed in the churches of Manhattan. As we will see, the European colonists declared Thanksgiving Days to celebrate mass murder more often than they did for harvest and friendship.
The Conquest of New England
By the 1670s there were about 30,000 to 40,000 white inhabitants in the United New England Colonies–6,000 to 8,000 able to bear arms. With the Pequot destroyed, the Massachusetts and Plymouth colonists turned on the Wampanoag, the tribe that had saved them in 1620 and probably joined them for the original Thanksgiving Day.
In 1675 a Christian Wampanoag was killed while spying for the Puritans. The Plymouth authorities arrested and executed three Wampanoag without consulting the tribal chief, King Philip.
As Mao Tsetung says: "Where there is oppression there is resistance." The Wampanoag went to war.
The Indians applied some military lessons they had learned: they waged a guerrilla war which overran isolated European settlements and were often able to inflict casualties on the Puritan soldiers. The colonists again attacked and massacred the main Indian populations.
When this war ended, 600 European men, one-eleventh of the adult men of the New England Colonies, had been killed in battle. Hundreds of homes and 13 settlements had been wiped out. But the colonists won.
In their victory, the settlers launched an all-out genocide against the remaining Native people. The Massachusetts government offered 20 shillings bounty for every Indian scalp, and 40 shillings for every prisoner who could be sold into slavery. Soldiers were allowed to enslave any Indian woman or child under 14 they could capture. The "Praying Indians" who had converted to Christianity and fought on the side of the European troops were accused of shooting into the treetops during battles with "hostiles." They were enslaved or killed. Other "peaceful" Indians of Dartmouth and Dover were invited to negotiate or seek refuge at trading posts–and were sold onto slave ships.
It is not known how many Indians were sold into slavery, but in this campaign, 500 enslaved Indians were shipped from Plymouth alone. Of the 12,000 Indians in the surrounding tribes, probably about half died from battle, massacre and starvation.
After King Philip's War, there were almost no Indians left free in the northern British colonies. A colonist wrote from Manhattan's New York colony: "There is now but few Indians upon the island and those few no ways hurtful. It is to be admired how strangely they have decreased by the hand of God, since the English first settled in these parts."
In Massachusetts, the colonists declared a "day of public thanksgiving" in 1676, saying, "there now scarce remains a name or family of them [the Indians] but are either slain, captivated or fled."
Fifty-five years after the original Thanksgiving Day, the Puritans had destroyed the generous Wampanoag and all other neighboring tribes. The Wampanoag chief King Philip was beheaded. His head was stuck on a pole in Plymouth, where the skull still hung on display 24 years later.
The descendants of these Native peoples are found wherever the Puritan merchant capitalists found markets for slaves: the West Indies, the Azures, Algiers, Spain and England. The grandson of Massasoit, the Pilgrim's original protector, was sold into slavery in Bermuda.
Runaways and Rebels
But even the destruction of Indian tribal life and the enslavement of survivors brought no peace. Indians continued to resist in every available way. Their oppressors lived in terror of a revolt. And they searched for ways to end the resistance. The historian MacLeod writes: "The first `reservations' were designed for the `wild' Irish of Ulster in 1609. And the first Indian reservation agent in America, Gookin of Massachusetts, like many other American immigrants had seen service in Ireland under Cromwell."
The reality of Thanksgiving — and the founding of the United States in slavery and genocide
The enslaved Indians refused to work and ran away. The Massachusetts government tried to control runaways by marking enslaved Indians: brands were burnt into their skin, and symbols were tattooed into their foreheads and cheeks.
A Massachusetts law of 1695 gave colonists permission to kill Indians at will, declaring it was "lawful for any person, whether English or Indian, that shall find any Indians traveling or skulking in any of the towns or roads (within specified limits), to command them under their guard and examination, or to kill them as they may or can."
The northern colonists enacted more and more laws for controlling the people. A law in Albany forbade any African or Indian slave from driving a cart within the city. Curfews were set up; Africans and Indians were forbidden to have evening get-togethers. On Block Island, Indians were given 10 lashes for being out after nine o'clock. In 1692 Massachusetts made it a serious crime for any white person to marry an African, an Indian or a mulatto. In 1706 they tried to stop the importation of Indian slaves from other colonies, fearing a slave revolt.
Looking at this history raises a question: Why should anyone celebrate the survival of the earliest Puritans with a Thanksgiving Day? Certainly the Native peoples of those times had no reason to celebrate.
The ruling powers of the United States organized people to celebrate Thanksgiving Day because it is in their interest. That's why they created it. The first national celebration of Thanksgiving was called for by George Washington. And the celebration was made a regular legal holiday later by Abraham Lincoln during the civil war (right as he sent troops to suppress the Sioux of Minnesota).
Washington and Lincoln were two presidents deeply involved in trying to forge a unified bourgeois nation-state out of the European settlers in the United States. And the Thanksgiving story was a useful myth in their efforts at U.S. nation-building. It celebrates the "bounty of the American way of life," while covering up the brutal nature of this society.