Reflections on Thanksgiving by a Native Revolutionary
So today is Thanksgiving. In this piece, Ahiga Kotori, a Seneca revolutionary and a friend of ours here in Seattle reflects on the holiday. He asks: what do we really have to be thankful for? Are folks giving thanks for U.S. capitalism and white supremacy, for 518 years of colonial settlement of North America, for a nation built on stolen Native land and an economy lubricated with Native blood? Why, if these do not really benefit people of color? As Malcolm X said, “we didn’t land on Plymouth Rock, Plymouth Rock landed on us.”
We have been organizing with Ahiga Kotori and many others this fall demanding Justice for John T. Williams. Williams, a Native American woodcarver was gunned down by Seattle cop Ian Birk who claimed Williams refused to drop his carving knife. Investigations have shown that Williams’ knife was not even open and that Birk shot him in the side after giving him only four seconds of warning. This, as well as several other recent cases of police brutality against Latino and Black folks, has sparked a multi-racial coalition of working and poor people to mobilize against the cops. We will reflect on this movement and analyze it soon, but for now we’ll leave you with Kotori’s haunting question: “what does John T. Williams have to be thankful for?” While American society gives thanks for the triumphs of empire, and “progress” forged through the death of indigenous peoples, let’s pause to remember that the state the Pilgrims began to establish still claims the lives of oppressed peoples and this will not stop until we dismantle it and replace it with a new society we can truly give thanks for.
That’s why, unless snow disrupts the bus lines, we’ll be out there protesting, responding to Kotori’s call to action.
I was wondering if anybody would be willing to have a protest of some kind? Because in my opinion, this is just the same as the Holocaust except the difference is, we don’t celebrate the Holocaust. Though the Holocaust was horrible, it was a six year thing. Most of it. Our oppression has been going for 518 years. 78 million have died as a result. When Columbus got here there were 80 million people of different tribes and tongues. This was just in the U.S. territories alone! Yet by the time the white man’s conquest was over, there are a little over 2 million left. Unlike the Jews of Europe, we barely have our identity.
Growing up in the hood, the main people I saw were Blacks and my cousins, who were full blooded Senecas. That experience had me thinking that maybe all non-Native people shouldn’t leave , leaving us the land. Maybe just whites.
Then I meet some white revolutionaries and now I know there are SOME good white people.
However, now, I see that despite the fact that the white man keeps all minorities down, for whatever reason, people of color who are non- tribal, are celebrating Thanksgiving!
Now in the heart of our struggle we must think about the future, what society we want for ourselves, our future, our, children, we must find a way to coexist as men, women, Blacks, Natives, Irish, Italian, Euros, Jews Arabs, Latinos , Muslims, gay men and women. And actually being able to force all non native people off the continent would be a long and difficult and frankly unnecessary task. So that said, if you all are going to stay, I ask for your help in our struggle as we will help with yours.
Would anybody be down to protest or have some kind of protest around it or on the day of Thanksgiving?
Even ya’ll in California. I’m talking to you too! I’m not asking for ya’ll to commit to this, but please do what you can on your end.
Because lets be real. Do you really think you should only be grateful once a year?
You could pick from 365 days and pick a different day in which to be thankful and eat Turkey. Why celebrate it on the day of the Pilgrims?
I’m not saying Thanksgiving is bad. Its the principle of it. Its the origin of the holiday. Its the date. Myself, personally, I haven’t really fasted before in my life so I’m gonna try and do that for my fallen brothers & sisters. Again, not asking for commitment, just please try.
If we are to be in solidarity with each other we must help each other. I wouldn’t even bring this up except for that people of color are still celebrating Thanksgiving. In fact the majority of this country are falling back on the “being thankful” excuse.
Again, though we don’t have nothing to be thankful for except God/Allah/Great Spirit. As Natives we don’t have much. White people have a lot. They are the ones who have something to be thankful for. Yet Natives are sometimes expected to be grateful to the white man for what he has done to “Make up for it.”
But a casino and a free college education will never make up for our culture being destroyed, the deaths of the buffalos in the great plains, the oppression of our people for 518 years.
We’re still in poverty, still on food stamps, and most important, still living behind enemy lines.
We, just like Black folks, have been in every major American war. We have fought just as hard as the white man. More than the white man! have been in the “Revolution” The civil war, WW I, WWII, Vietnam, and every big and small war you can think of and yet we have nothing to show for it in the end.
Then we realize we were just tools.
As far as Thanksgiving itself, we saved the white man from starving. We fed him turkey and corn and that is what people claim to celebrate. You aren’t celebrating because you are grateful to us for saving your lilly white asses. You are thankful that once your ancestors were full, they began killing us, raping our women, and forcing us to covert to their version of Christianity. Yet through our deeds of saving the white men, our kindness, we were already better Christians than they were. More Christ like.
Anyway, I hope ya’ll in Seattle are open to the idea of a march in the near future or some kind of protest of this holiday. If nothing else, I still hope to resume my fasting for that day. If I can’t fast…..I damn sure won’t be eating Turkey.
Cause if you think about it, what do Natives like John T Williams have to be thankful for? He was murdered in cold blood by a white devil from the bacon department. What was his crime? He didn’t even have his knife out! What was his crime? According to the pigs they thought he’d been drinking so I heard or that he was a drunk. Why is it okay for white people to drink but Natives and Black homeless folks can’t every now and then? I’m not saying John Williams was homeless but the park was a homeless area.
For those who would defend the police, they need to look at how they treat homeless people. Because if you attack somebody who aint got a roof over their head, you aren’t a hero or a good person. You are no different than so called “Thugs”
What about those who actually put up a fight when the pigs man handle them? For one person, even an unarmed person, the cops call backup. That sounds like a gang, the same type of people they claim are street scum and lock up. See I’m a Crip though and we aren’t going around shooting people over skin color.
So there is nothing the pigs can say that will redeem them for what they have done. If somebody has a weapon wouldn’t they have used it? If John Williams actually was a threat to the cops, wouldn’t he have attacked the cop without thinking about it? A person with intent to do harm is not going to fuck about and wait for the cop to be aware of it.
So, this Thanksgiving I hope that I can unite people of color on this cause so that they are aware of what thanksgiving is as a holiday. So that I can change their minds about the sugar coated version of the holiday. Even if white folks as a whole keep doing it every year, I hope to get people of color to awaken to a sense of awareness.
I went to this dialogue between the Native community and the police and some people were brown nosing the cops. Saying that they “protect us from gang members. ” But really, now the gang member is who should be having your back. Cause somebody has to protect you from the police. Who better than a gangsta to understand the struggle you go through? We go through this. We have been through harassment from the cops our whole lives.
We need not be thankful to the police. We don’t owe them a damn thing. We owe only thanks to Allah/God/Jesus/Great Spirit. Who provides us with what we need and courage.
I believe that in our uprising, our struggle, God is on our side, not theirs. The one bright side is that this is waking people up. This tragedy. It has begun the awakening of a people, if not all people.
Salaam Aleikum brothers & Sisters,