Posts Tagged ‘Native Americans’

thanksgivingThanksgiving seems to be making its presence felt in India. Because of the great brain drain or the large-scale immigration, I find too many of my friends in the US; all of whom are making elaborate plans to celebrate this festival with their families.

Some of my other friends, working in BPOs in India, have been magnanimously granted a couple of days leave.

I am yet to find out what the fuss about Thanksgiving is all about. I think America, being a land so poor in history, especially in the last four hundred years, has to magnify and glorify every little thing. Reading about how Betty Ross made the American Flag and how little Washington never told a lie…was so boring, when compared to the Indian Rajputs or Moghuls.

Even now I find the statement “Columbus discovered the New World,” highly irritating. So the Red Indians, who were already living there for hundreds of centuries, don’t count? And discoveries count as discoveries only if they are discovered by the white man?

Indian scholars for long have known that the world was round and that the earth revolved round the sun. But still, I had to study textbooks, a legacy of British imperialism, which praised Nicolaus pilgrimsCopernicus for being the first astronomer to propose a heliocentric cosmology. My Tamil textbooks told me a totally different story.

My other problem with Thanksgiving is the usage of the word “settlers.” It was the Europeans who were settlers and not the Native Americans.

In 1526, 500 Spaniards and 100 Afro-American slaves descended on a place that is now called South Carolina. Disease broke out and clashes with the native Indians caused a lot of deaths.

Within a few months, the slaves had rebelled, killed their masters and joined the Indians. The surviving kather2150 Spaniards left for Haiti, while the ex-slaves stayed. So the first non-Indian settlers were Africans not “white men” as they would have us believe.

In 1565, the Spanish continued settling down by massacring French Protestants in Florida. They continued on their expansion drive and were the original “cowboys.” The cowboy tradition and the Westerns are something that I hate. They portray the white man as noble, brave and gallant. The white man always tries to protect his women from barbaric red Indians. This is an out and out lie. The white man was the oppressor. He was conquering and suppressing the red Indians. When the red Indians revolted they were labeled “barbaric and uncivilized,” while their katherd7oppressors – the cowboys, became the “heroes of American civilization.”

The Myth that popularizes Thanksgiving: “After exploring, the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Harbour. They had arrived in December and could not face the New England winter. They got help from friendly Indians, who gave them food and showed them how to grow corn. The colonists planted, fished, hunted, and prepared themselves for the next winter. After harvesting their first crop, they and their Indian friends celebrated the first Thanksgiving.”

The Americans never bother to look at facts, especially facts that paint them in a bad light. The pilgrims brought the plague with them to America. Within three years of their arrival, the plague wiped out between 90 percent and 96 percent of the inhabitants of southern New England, according to historians. The Indians were infected by the settlers and died in large kather3numbers. The survivors fled to other Indian tribes, carrying the infection with them. When the pilgrims landed in Massasoit now called Rhode Island, they saw dead bodies and ruin. Hundreds of Indians had died and no one was left to bury them.

In the next decade, small pox and other epidemics repeatedly struck the Europeans, and the Indians, who had developed no resistance to these “imported diseases.”

James W Loewen relates: “Even, George Washington suffered from the epidemic in his childhood. His face has often been described as “heavily pockmarked. The smallpox was as effective as guns in chiefspiritdestroying the local Indians. John Winthrop, Governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony, called the plague “miraculous.” To a friend in England in 1.634, he wrote: 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 the 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 fifty, have put themselves under our protection…”

The Thanksgiving was a necessity. The pilgrims needed the help of the Indians. They would later repay the Indians for their kindness by killing them, raping their women, and putting their children and old people in reservations.

James W Loewen says, “In 1492, more than 3,000,000 Indians lived on the island of Haiti. Forty years kather611later, fewer than 300 remained. King James of England gave thanks to “Almighty God in his great goodness and bounty towards us,” for sending “this wonderful plague among the savages.”

So, I think Americans should actually be ashamed of their history. Just like Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said “sorry for all the atrocities carried out against the native population,” the American Presidents should apologize for their behavior towards red Indians, Afro-Americans, Hispanics, the Irish, the Poles and every other immigrant minority population that they subdued and oppressed.

Not that the apology will atone for the atrocities committed, but it will be the first step towards restitution. Instead of baking turkey and puddings for Thanksgiving, they should remember the kather813atrocities committed and the atrocities still being committed (Iraq & Afghanistan) by America at large.

Chief Seattle said, “when the white man began to push our forefathers ever westward. But let us hope that the hostilities between us may never return. We would have everything to lose and nothing to gain. Revenge by young men is considered gain, even at the cost of their own lives, but old men who stay at home in times of war, and mothers who have sons to lose, know better.”

(Pictures courtesy http://www.waupaca.info/katherinegayton.htm)

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