Note: This is both a clarification and an extension of yesterday’s post, Thankless History of Thanksgiving.
I want it to be abundantly clear that my post yesterday was not a salvo in some War on Thanksgiving. I abundantly love this feast of abundance – as my girth can attest. I love spending time with family. I love turkey. I love tryptophan and naps. And sweet potato and
pumpkin pies. And NFL games somewhere playing in the fray.
But history needs to be acknowledged in full. Too many of our friends and neighbors and cousins have suffered too long because we are too full of ourselves to acknowledge that we and our families have done and do bad things.
A friend found my last post to be too anti-Thanksgiving. Granted, the story within the story does seem awfully harsh. I do not, however, apologize for another writer’s excesses (if that’s how one wants to describe them as). If that’s how Robert Jensen feels, that’s how he feels. I have no qualms nor arguments therein. I also would not be angry with various indigenous tribes people who also felt a need to not acknowledge the Thanksgiving tradition in this country
as some sort of benevolent or good remembrance. After all, do we recognize their fests, let alone their sufferings? Can one enjoy one without sharing the other?
I however, would like to talk about our history as a means of redeeming ourselves, rather than the lazy work of redemptive ‘history’ that’s been making its way through the Great American Redemptive Mythos.
This, then, is my response to my friend:
If the blog comes across as anti-Thanksgiving, that is my error in message control. I’ll have to check and edit then.
My intention, however, wasn’t to butcher the day – one of my favorites – but to highlight a much-neglected context.
If I heard correctly, Winthrop hosted a second large Thanksgiving feast fifteen years after the initial one to thank God for their successful campaign against the lpcal tribes*. We need to tell our history straight. It needs to include both the inclusion and the exclusion, welcoming and murder, community and violence.
To do less is to do a disservice to our heritage and to neglect our current DNA as well as its majestic and horrible potential.
We can begin to remedy the situation by taking simple steps. Like spreading support for current laws to support current tribes, such as the H.R. 1385
Title: To extend Federal recognition to the Chickahominy Indian Tribe, the Chickahominy Indian Tribe-Eastern Division, the Upper Mattaponi Tribe, the Rappahannock Tribe, Inc., the Monacan Indian Nation, and the Nansemond Indian Tribe. This Act may be cited as the `Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act of 2009′.
There is a provision in current law that allows unrecognized tribes to gain recognition through appeal to the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Source
Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act of 1924 has hurt the Virginia tribes in their prior appeals to the BIA, according to the Washington Times. Tribe officials say the Act forced Indians to identify themselves as “colored” and led to the destruction and alteration of genealogical records. Source
Tribal proponents say the Virginia law amounted to a “paper genocide” and makes the bureau process difficult for the six groups, although there are some genealogical records that do exist and have been submitted to the bureau. Va. Gov. Tim Kaine called the vote “a major step towards reconciling an historic wrong for Virginia and the nation.” Source
President Barack Obama has reversed from past presidents and pledged to support recognition of the Lumbee Tribe, which has sought federal oversight for more than a century. According to the AP, Obama has not said whether he will support recognition of the Virginia tribes. Source