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ThanksTaking or ThanksGiving?


MATIKA WILBUR: Welcome back to another episode of All My Relations. Thank you so much for being here with us today. I'm Matika. I am a photographer and a filmmaker from the Swinomish and Tulalip Tribes here in Washington State, coming to you from [] Land.

ADRIENNE KEENE: And I'm Adrienne. I am a slightly overworked professor and a writer and blogger coming to you from what is currently known as Rhode Island. And I am a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. We're in the middle of the time of the year that is particularly hard on Indigenous folks in terms of representation. So we roll from like Columbus Day in October to Halloween where folks are dressing up like natives and wearing disrespectful costumes and then wearing false sports season, which used to mean the Washington football team but doesn't anymore, which is great, but still means hockey and the Blackhawks and all of these other Indian mascots. And then we're in Native American Heritage Month, which means we get called upon all the time to do talks and explain things over and over. And then it all ends at the end of the month with Thanksgiving and growing up, so many Americans get the really distorted stories of the myth of the Pilgrims and the Indians. And we wanted to do an episode to talk about Thanksgiving with folks that can tell the story from their own perspective. And that's definitely something that is not done too often in popular culture.

MATIKA: Every year we are confronted with Native American Heritage Month and the time period where I am asked to go and give many, many lectures and keynotes and I'm often asked to give commentary on this holiday. And there's two things to that. One is that I'm not really the appropriate person to discuss Wampanoag history, which is why I wanted to do this episode in this way and ask Wampanoag aunties to come on and tell us from their own perspective how they feel about this, the retelling of the myth of Thanksgiving from an American perspective. I would rather hear from them how they feel about Thanksgiving. So that's one I wanted to hold public space where that conversation and the other part is that I feel like this holiday, while I do celebrate Thanksgiving with my family, you know, in a very much like a stereotypical American way, I personally really enjoy coming together with my family. And I like making a turkey. I like making pies. I even like that my mom makes cinnamon rolls, you know, and they're delicious. I like the Thanksgiving Day parade. Like, I like all those things. I'm not trying to pooh-pooh on Thanksgiving. You know, I also think that there's we expound on this and that all of us could and should think about a different and new way of engaging with traditions that stem from Indigenous belief systems. And there's a better way to do that than the way that we're doing it right now. And that's why I wanted to do this episode.

ADRIENNE: A lot of this is because in the American version of Thanksgiving, we save up all of our gratitude and spew it out on one day of the entire year while we're eating a lot of food and watching football and whatever, which is not the way that we do Thanksgiving or gratitude in Indigenous communities. For a lot of communities, for most of us, it's an everyday practice. It's all the time practice. It's a there's a very formulaic way that we think about giving thanks through prayer, through ceremony. And I know Matika, you have a lot of examples of that through all of your travels throughout Indian country.

MATIKA: Right. And one really good example of a Thanksgiving address is one from Haudenosaunee country. And so I reached out to a good friend of mine, Charlotte Logan, and you might recognize her voice from our episode Beyond Blood Quantum. And she's currently at Cornell University in the Department of Linguistics, working on her PhD in Haudenosaunee languages. And so I said, hey, Charlotte, can you do me a favor and record the Thanksgiving address for us so that our relatives can hear an actual Thanksgiving address? And so she did. She sent it over to us. And I want to play it for you. This is the shortened version of a Thanksgiving address, and it's translated as the first matters before all else. As in these are the first words that are spoken to give thanks, an important thing to do and that should be done before anything else happens. Since this is in Onondaga, I thought maybe it would be nice to read it for you in English also.

CHARLOTTE LOGAN: [speaking Onondaga]

MATIKA: So now in fact indeed we think and greet each other there than let it be that way in our minds. We thank our Mother Earth there than let it be that way in our minds gone. So now in fact indeed we thank every kind of medicine there than let it be that way in our minds. So now in fact, indeed, we thank them every kind of tree and bush there, than let it be that way in our minds. So now, in fact, indeed, we thank them every kind of berry there than let it be that way in our minds. So now, in fact, indeed, we thank them, every kind of animal that runs around there, than let it be that way in our minds. So now, in fact, indeed, we thank water there than let it be that way in our minds. So now, in fact, indeed, we thank life sustainers food there than let it be that way in our minds. So now, in fact, indeed, we thank where the winds stir there, than let it be that way in our mind. So now, in fact, indeed, we thank our grandfathers the thunders there than let it be that way in our minds. So now, in fact, indeed, we think and greet him, our elder brother, the sun there, than let it be that way in our minds. So now in fact, indeed, we thank Grandmother Moon there, than let it be that way in our minds. So now in fact indeed we thank the four protector's down there then let it be that way in our minds. So now in fact indeed we thank our leader, handsome [] there, than let it be that way in our minds. So now in fact, indeed, we thank our creator who lives in the sky there, than let it be that way in our minds.

MATIKA: Having a holiday that only gives thanks one time a year is dangerous because we have ways in our communities of offering thanks and giving thanks on a regular basis that shapes the way that we interact with the world. An example of that is that we have a salmon ceremony every year and the salmon ceremony is this thing that we do where our whole community comes together and we give thanks to the salmon before we before we harvest any more salmon, we sing, we and then we put together a spirit plate and our fishermen go out to the four corners of our sea and they offer it to the ocean and we give thanks and then every time there forward that we go out and harvest before we take anything from the ocean, we give thanks, we stop, we make an offering for the water and we do the same thing on our canoes before we get onto the water, before we like step foot in the canoe, we we dip our paddle in the water and we give thanks to the water for carrying us, for allowing us to be there. One of our belief systems is to go take a dip and to cleanse ourselves. And we do that cleansing on a regular basis. You know, we go to the salt water to to give thanks to cleanse ourselves and we make an offering to the water of tobacco or we make an offering with our hair. But we definitely make an offering with song and we announce ourselves and we give thanks to the water. And when we do that on a regular basis, it it changes my physical interaction with the water. You know, like I don't ever I don't ever go to a new place and get into the water without first introducing myself. You know, like I I will stand at the at the shore and introduce myself, my ancestors and who I am and ask permission to to go into the water before I actually do that and and that has to do with years of being trained that it's my responsibility to give thanks. I do the same thing before I take anything from the forest, before I harvest cedar. I do the same thing before I harvest from my garden and when I plant seeds and before I eat new food, I stop, I take a moment, I take a breath and I give thanks, you know, and that's the that framework takes away that sense of entitlement, you know, and that's really what we're pushing back against. And we're going to get into that in this episode. But that sense of entitlement that's deeply rooted in manifest destiny, that is actually rooted in white supremacy, that says that I am superior, therefore, all of this is mine is backward thinking, and it's the thinking that we are trying to overcome. You know, like we cannot really be in good relationship with one another until we learn how to be humble and give thanks and be grateful for all the living things. And that is not a simple process. You know, like thanking things from the sky beings all the way down to the inner creatures of the earth takes time. A real Thanksgiving address like done in Haudenosaunee country will take like an hour. You know, it it takes practice.

ADRIENNE: Absolutely. And there's an entire industry that is now popping up in this sort of like self care wellness culture about having gratitude journals and thinking about shifting your brain space to a mindset of gratitude. And there's psychological research that has showed that if you start doing that every day is a practice, that it really it actually rewires your brain. And this is something that Indigenous people have known from the beginning, as you just laid out so beautifully, like this is just rooted in who we are. That's a really powerful concept, is understanding how that can reshape your relationships to the land and to one another and to the material things in your life if you orient from this position of gratitude, of giving thanks and make it a daily thing, and not just this, like once a year, America blowout.

MATIKA: Mm hmm. So when we were doing research around this topic on other conversations, we found that a lot of people spent a lot of time unpacking the myths and misconceptions of the origin story and they go on and on about retelling the story from a better perspective. But they don't really talk about the implications for the contemporary moment. What does it really mean that we still celebrate Thanksgiving, that we're still telling a colonial history? And how might it be different if it was told from our own perspective?

MATIKA: Joining us today, we have Paula Peters from Mashpee Wampanoag. She's a journalist, educator, activist and formal tribal council woman. She has spent most of her life in her tribal homeland of Mashpee, Massachusetts, which is often referred to as Cape Cod. She is also the author of Mashpee Nine: A Story of Cultural Justice, published by Smoke Signals in 2016.

ADRIENNE: Linda Coombs is an author and historian from the Wampanoag tribe of Gay Head Aquinnah. She's the program director of the Aquinnah Cultural Center and worked for nearly three decades with the Wampanoag Indigenous program at Plymouth Plantation, including 15 years as the program's associate director. In that capacity, she wrote a number of essays documenting colonial history from a Native American perspective and often spoke publicly about the need for more accurate representations of colonial events, including the first Thanksgiving and Columbus Day.

PAULA PETERS: Thank you. Thanks for for inviting us.

ADRIENNE: We’re so appreciative that you took the time to talk with us. So you, for the past few weeks have been having to tell the story of your community over and over and over again. What is the story that you wish people knew about your communities in relation to Thanksgiving?

LINDA COOMBS: You go first.

PAULA: Well, I think that the holiday itself perpetuates this myth that there was this time of courageous pilgrims who came to found this country and they met with happy Indians who fed them and they had this great feast and it was all, you know, kumbaya. And it's it's a story that comes from one paragraph that's written in the Journal of William Bradford. And if you actually read it more carefully, it's clear that the Wampanoag that came to see the English settlers that day were not invited, for one thing. And they were probably also not happy with the settlers because they came in a troop of about almost 100 men. Right, Linda?

LINDA: 90.

PAULA: 90 men, and they had their weapons.

ADRIENNE: I just want to pause for a moment to let you hear that journal entry yourself. It comes from William Bradford of Plymouth Plantation. And he says in his journal, quote, They began now to gather in the small harvest they had and to fit up their houses and dwellings against winter being all well recovered and health and strength, and had all things in good plenty for as some were thus employed in affairs abroad, others were exercised in fishing about cod and bass and other fish, of which they took good store, of which every family had their portion. All the summer there was no want and now began to come in store of fowl as winter approached, of which this place did abound when they came first, but afterward decreased by degrees. And besides waterfowl, there was great store of wild turkeys of which they took many besides venison, etc.. Besides, they had about a peck of meal a week to person or now since harvest Indian corn to that proportion, which made many afterwards right so largely of their plenty here to their friends in England, which were not famed but true reports. Wow, I am not a British man in the seventeen hundreds.

PAULA: So, you know, we can speculate as to what brought them there that day, but we do know that it was common for the the colonist militia to blast off their weapons, you know, on a regular basis. And, you know, that may have been threatening. I would find it threatening if my neighbors were blasting off guns on the regular and scaring the crap out of me. It all ended up cordially. Whatever transpired in that event, they decided that they would all feast together. And they did spend about three days at this gathering where the Wampanoag men went out and hunted and brought back some some fowl, which may or may not have been turkey. I can pretty much bet that there was probably no cranberry sauce. You know, a lot of these things that we know today about Thanksgiving, they’re inventions, they’re inventions to make people feel good, make and we do feel good about gathering with family. We do feel good about coming together. But what we don't feel good about is that this period in time is convenient. It is a convenient place for people to look back, you know, like I, I talk about 1620 being the place in time where the casual consumers of history are comfortable going to, but not any earlier, because if they did, they'd have to talk about some pretty raw and awful times. Colonization, it happens to the colonized and to be colonized is is is not, as far as I know, it's it's never been a good thing for anybody. The people, the Wampanoag people that they had, they were a very sophisticated people with spiritual values and beliefs that were worthy of preserving. And this was a time that they were invaded by European the English pilgrims that we're speaking of who had come here for religious freedom, but ultimately would not give that same freedom to the people who saved them, who rescued them from sure. They surely would have perished without the assistance that they got.

LINDA: I'd like to point out that this Thanksgiving event that did happen in 1621 was about a year, you know, after the pilgrims had landed. The mythology holds that, you know, the Mayflower pulled up and the pilgrims got off and we ran down and greeted them with open arms. And it was just, you know, hunky dory after that. And we had turkey to celebrate it. And the fact of the matter is that we observed what the English were doing for about six months before any contact was made at all, because we were trying to figure out what they were about. They were not the first ship by any means. There had been traders and explorers and fishermen coming from Europe for like 100 years prior to 1620. So this was just another ship and it's like, OK, what do they want now? You know? So they were observed for about six months, ended up making an agreement of mutual protection between sachem Massasoit and the people who were allied with him, the Wampanoag people, which is not all the Wampanoags that were left after a plague, but just the ones that were allied with him and this small group of English people. And that's what precipitated, you know, Massasoit and 90 men going into Plymouth for what became known as the first Thanksgiving. And that designation happened actually 200 years later. It was a man named Alexander Young who sort of rewrote Bradford's journal and Mourts Relation, which is another 17th century source that describes the so-called first Thanksgiving and wrote it in modern English with modern punctuation so it's more readable, separated out the one paragraph that is the entire historical record for the first Thanksgiving.

MATIKA: This is the paragraph that, you know, became our modern Thanksgiving. So I'll let you hear it. It says, quote, Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling that so we might, after a special manner, rejoice together after we had gathered the fruits of our labors day for in one day killed as much fowl as with a little help besides save the company almost a week at which time, among other recreations, we exercised our arms. Many of the Indians coming among us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some 90 men whom for three days we entertained and feasted and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor and upon the captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.

LINDA: And it was Alexander Young who had a footnote at the bottom of the page that said this is the first Thanksgiving and the name has stuck ever since. So there's a lot of pieces of history that a lot of nuances that need to be understood. And it's 400 years so it's time that the truth of history was brought out and and people began to grapple with it, because, as Paula was saying, it's not a pretty history here at all. You know, everything that happened in colonization to other people happened to us as well just earlier than some cases.

MATIKA: I really appreciate you explaining it that way. You know, I. I don't think that the average American would be able to tell you that, you know, like that it's Wampanoag specifically who you know, most people haven't had access to Indigenous education. We teach, you know, geographic regions in the third grade and we say this is Washington State, this is California, this is Oregon, this is Montana. We don't also say the Great Basin territory is Paiute country. And, you know, this is Plains Country and this is [] and Coast Salish territory and, you know, et cetera. So since Indigenous curriculum is largely left out of the national dialogue and we know this to be true right from some of the studies that we found, people aren't familiar with this with even like who's Indigenous land they're on. And so it makes sense that the narrative shifting was to support an American belief system. And it makes it easy for people to to feel comfortable with occupying space, right. Like if we if we if we make a flowery, friendly version of this story, that's easy to digest, then then I don't have to feel bad. You know, that's kind of the idea, right?

PAULA: Well, that's exactly. I mean, and what you're saying is we're a little bit more well recognized here in the Northeast because that the term Wampanoag is is more readily available to students and to educators. So we have and we've immersed our regional schools in our story. But that's not the case, you know, throughout the country, I still go places where they say how Wampanoag I didn't even know that the Wampanoag still existed. And, you know, that is and forgive me if you've heard this story before, but that is what happened to me as a child when I was growing up in at the time my family lived in Philadelphia and I went to school there as a first, second grader, whatever it was. And they taught the story of Thanksgiving, you know, in that mythical way. And the teacher said, and then there were these wonderful Indians, didn't mention the Wampanoag by name and unfortunately, sadly, they all died. And I said, no, no, that's not true. I'm a Wampanoag and I'm still here. And, you know, she was patronizing, of course. And oh, of course you are, my dear. But, you know, I'm 61 years old now and I feel like my whole life I've been, you know, having to repeat to people, I'm Wampanoag and I'm still here, hopefully I'm being heard a little louder these days, but, yeah, we we have been able to to take advantage of these times, particularly if there is any good thing to come out of the Mayflower anniversary. It is that we have been able to step up onto that international platform and tell people we’re Wampanoag and we're still here.

MATIKA: You know, I just want to mention sorry, I know we're going to move on, but I just want to mention that that the still here dialogue, I think really stifles the potential for Indigenous scholarship and for non-Indigenous people to think in a complex way about Indigenous people and their relationship with the Indigenous land they live on and the potential for stewardship. You know, if we're always having a narrative correction in conversation, if we are always having to talk about, yes, we're native, we're still here, we're never getting to the next part, which is the where I'd like this conversation to go, which is like, you know, yes, we're still here and self-determination and nation building and rematriating and building better school systems for our children and, you know, Indigenous futures. That, to me, is the important part of the conversation that I would like for us to be able to center all of our conversations around. So I'll let you take it from here, Adrienne.

ADRIENNE: No pressure. Well, I was actually going to have us, like, rehash the whole Mayflower commemoration, so maybe we could, like, talk about that for one moment just so folks can kind of have the context of when we're mentioning this 400 year commemoration, what are we commemorating and then what's the message that you have been trying to give to this international platform about your communities?

LINDA: I commemorate my ancestors, my Wampanoag ancestors. The landing of the Mayflower kind of doesn't fill that space for me because having, you know, worked for more than 40 years in museums and in the field of history and learning what what happened to them and what they went through and knowing that they want their voices heard, you know, that has been my focus in in all of the work that I do. And both Paula and I have been on the board and I still am of Plymouth Four Hundred, Inc. and I've had to listen to all the Mayflower commemoration stuff, which is, you know, OK, you know, pilgrims happened, we know this. So I mean and I mean, I'm a person that thinks, you know, something happened in history, it should be told, but it's got to be told in its rightful context. And and they did land here in Wampanoag territory. So let's look at it from that point of view, rather than having the happy Thanksgiving turkey, cranberry sauce, you know, story,

PAULA: You know, we are vital and sustainable people. And not only are we telling our story, but we're bringing that story forward. One of the things that was lost to the Wampanoag after King Philip's war, the war that occurred in 1676, our leader at the time, Metacom, who they called King Phillip, was killed. His wampum belt was taken, and we've not stopped looking for it. But one of the things that we were able to do as a result of networking with these folks internationally was to get funding to create a new belt and that new belt has restarted that tradition within our community. And it's an unfinished piece because, and intentionally so, because it will eventually have more work done to it by the next generation or by the the people who touch it next. It's just such an important project that is about our past. It’s about who we are now and it's about our future. And it's come out of this this effort to, as Linda says, to to balance the story.

ADRIENNE: Love that so much.

PAULA: The 100th anniversary is huge because Mayflower descendants and there's just utterly millions of them. How many?

LINDA: Thirty five million worldwide, 10 million in the US.

PAULA: Yeah. So and and they celebrate that heritage, you know, more power to them. They they can celebrate that heritage, but they they cannot do that without acknowledging the sacrifices of my ancestors. And that's that that's been the important piece that is new to this commemoration, because past commemorations and in particular 50 years ago when they had the three hundred and fiftieth anniversary, it was really kind of a horror show because they invited a Wampanoag to speak. Then they told that person, oh, wait a second, we don't really want you to say all of that stuff about the plagues and the wars and the kidnappings. And no, just talk about, you know, that happy time. We hear again the myth of Thanksgiving. And so they tried to censor his speech. He then took that speech up onto a hill overlooking the Mayflower and Plymouth Rock and gave it to hundreds of Indians who had, and supporters who gathered there instead. And it became the National Day of Mourning, which is now recognized not only here annually on what the nation knows as Thanksgiving Day, but in other parts of the country. I mean, they recognized it at Alcatraz when Alcatraz was being held in San Francisco. They recognized that in Lakota Country, they recognized it, you know, out at the Navajo country - everywhere people acknowledge that day as a national day of mourning to to remember the sacrifices of our ancestors.

LINDA: The person who was censored was Frank James. And he I'm not sure how he got the word out for the first day of mourning in 1970, but there were hundreds of Indian people from around the country. There are, you know, all of the big AIM guys from the American Indian Movement came. And I just remember being there and it was like the whole waterfront was just a sea of people, you know, and some of the AIM guys, you know, they were climbing up the statue of Massasoit, which is on Coles Hill where it's held and making speeches. They went down and went on the Mayflower and were climbing the masts. And in those days, the the staff of the Mayflower were mannequins because the captain ended up taking a header over the side, but he was wooden, so he floated. So, you know, no harm done, I guess. But and they were trying to make a point, you know, just to grab people's attention. And the day of mourning is now 50 years old and it's ongoing.

MATIKA: Today, there's a plaque on Coles Hill that reads, quote, Since 1970, Native Americans have gathered at noon on Coles Hill in Plymouth to commemorate a national day of mourning on the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday. Many Native Americans do not celebrate the arrival of pilgrims and other European settlers. To them, Thanksgiving Day is a reminder of the genocide of millions of their people and the theft of their lands and the relentless assault on their culture. Participants in a national day of mourning honor native ancestors and the struggles of native peoples to survive today. It is a day of remembrance and spiritual connection, as well as a protest of the racism and oppression which Native Americans continue to experience end quote. We found some footage from the fifth year commemorating the day of mourning. It's powerful and definitely worth listening to.

[footage recording]: At the U.S. Mexico border, things have grown even worse this past year, more than 70000 children were detained and caged by the U.S. government this year alone. The US leads the world in child prisoners. Many of us who are native to this country have been outraged by the treatment of our relatives from Mexico, Central America and South America. It is devastating to see their families torn apart, just as our families have been splintered as a result of cruel government policies. Everyone must remember that no one is illegal on stolen land. And we join migrant communities and saying that we didn't cross the border, the border crossed us. But the immigrant nation, that is the United States has a short memory and is in denial of their own historical facts. They are descended from the invaders who forcibly took our lands and resources from us, then denied us the use of our languages and cultures. Once again, we ask the question, who is the illegal alien, pilgrim?

MATIKA: She makes such a good point, it's important to make the connections between the Mayflower and early American history and current public policies, especially around immigration. And to this point, I think it's super important to point out that Wampanoags became a township under the because of these agreements from from that time period. And so you guys didn't have reservation land established in the same way that other places had reservation lands because your agreements were with the Queen predating the American constitution. And so what's wild is that it wasn't upheld and then it created this whole problem with land claims and sovereignty that's still ongoing today, which is just to me so absurd like that we're having we had to have the conversation about like the revisionist history of the narrative, corrective conversation. But the real crux of this of this for me is how it's playing out right now in your ability to be sovereign, to self determine and, you know, to to provide services, really and take care of your own people with the right to housing or economic freedom and how this history is actually impacting your guys lives right now. That's really what I would like for you to talk about. Small topic, small topic.

PAULA: Well, yeah. I mean, just a little. Just a little bit. You know, I you know, me personally, I hate I hate to talk about the politics and, you know, I can't speak to it from a tribal political standpoint. But I can just tell you, as someone who has grown up in this and that throughout my life, we have just learned that to always be fighting for something. I was a teenager in 1976 when the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council sued for the return of our tribal lands. And my father was then chairman of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe. He was my father, Russell Peters. He died waiting for a decision on that, which is sad. It wasn't until 2007 that we finally were given federal acknowledgment, which was necessary, according to the courts, in order for us to sue for the land, which they acknowledge by virtue of us being acknowledged that we were entitled to, but in order to get that acknowledgment, we had to agree not to sue for the land.

ADRIENNE: So absurd.

PAULA: Yeah, it's pretty it's pretty absurd.

MATIKA: I just want to acknowledge what you just said. You're a member of a first contact nation from the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe who has been in, like the first let's just like the first language, the first thing ever printed in the United States, the first Bible that was ever printed here was printed in Wampanoag. You know, like people know that you're a nation. It's established throughout history,

ADRIENNE: [] a historical record of your existence.

MATIKA: Right, that you're a nation. However, there's still there's an ongoing fight for federal recognition, which is the right to self-determination from the federal government, which is not a right given from the government. It's a reestablishment of a right that you always had. And that it's still going on to me is just every time I think about that, I'm just like my guts spill out.

PAULA: Yeah, well, I mean, we and we really thought we were making strides and it seemed like positive things were happening and then there was this. This orange []stain that I'm sorry you can cut that it just it's been the past four years have been horrible. They've been absolutely horrible for especially for Indigenous people, you know, where it comes to land claims, where it comes to environmental impact and pipelines and murdered and missing Indigenous women. It's not just about us, although all those things are impacting us. We just we're we're looking for one of our sisters right now who's been missing for weeks. And, you know, we we don't know where she is, but so we have all these battles to fight. But I think that one of the things that that, you know, they may be disappointed in Washington because, you know, they can continue to throw the [] at us all day long. And we are going to continue to fight back, know we're bringing up another generation of young ones who are learning to speak the language as a first language for themselves. And they're learning to to hunt and fish in their ancestral homelands, which is a little harder now because there's golf courses and, you know, Mcmansions and boats polluting our waters. But so it is a bit of a challenge to be part of that that tribe of of those people who endured the first encounter. And, yeah, we're we're still here in spite of all that. But it's not it's not been easy.

ADRIENNE: I am always so grateful as like a guest on your homelands. I mean, I've lived on the East Coast now for almost a decade thinking about the amazing work that is just continually being done in both of your communities around cultural revitalization, around the language work that Paula mentioned, thinking about this sort of like future contemporary orientation. So when millions and millions of Americans are still going to be sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner or celebrating the holiday this month, what stories or what narrative do you want them to know about the important and good things going on in your communities

LINDA: In both Mashpee Aquinnah and other Wampanoag communities, Herring Pond, where there's such a desire to know the history, to know the language, to learn all of these different, you know, not really arts, but for lack of a better word, I'll use that, basketry or whatever it is, regalia making. There's just so much that that people want to know. And because of the way that we've experienced history, you know, I remember being at an Elders luncheon, at Aquinnah, and there were you know, fortunately I'm an elder myself, so I could get away with saying some of the things I did. But people expressed to me they feel shame because they don't know the history. You know, and I'm like I told them, I said, you know, I don't even want to hear you say that. You know, because there's a particular reason why you do not know your history, that was a planned thing. You know, the history's been erased and you don't know it, other people don't know it. So now we're we're getting back to a place where we can start to communicate it and you can learn it. I don't care if you are 85, you know, and and you know. So some people, you know, I see just a change in their demeanor. They want a regalia, they want to put it on, they want to dance at par while they they, you know, wear a mohawk or they, you know, start making different things. It's just there it's not only a contemporary thing, but I think since day one in 1620, our life has been just reacting to all to the colonization that's been imposed upon us.

PAULA: Yeah, and it's colonization that keeps happening to us. It's not like, you know, we we continue to be recolonized. We were recolonized in nineteen seventy six when we're trying to get our land back and then we got recolonized again when they started to build up Mashpee to be, you know, this resort area where, you know, we were having difficulty even remaining in our homeland, but we're resourceful. And I think that's the important thing is that, you know, we have to learn to be resourceful. We have to learn. I mean, as important as it is to tell our story, it is just as important to be vital in in the world that we are in. And, you know, we do have limited human resources. There's you know, we're we're a relatively small tribe. But, you know, we have I'd say our greatest resource right now is is our next generation and teaching them to to feel pride in themselves. And that's one of these things that, you know, as Linda was saying, that the young people that that would go and work in that program at the Wampanoag Indigenous program, they they came away from that learning to have have pride in themselves and pride in their history. And just being being Wampanoag was then enough for them. And and they could go out into the world and take that pride and spin it for all that it's worth.

ADRIENNE: Thank you. Just so heartening to hear, wado.

ADRIENNE: There's a very big movement, which everyone has experienced, I'm sure, in institutional spaces of doing land acknowledgments, of acknowledging whose land we're gathered on, saying their names and then moving forward with the event. And that's something that our relatives in what's currently known as Canada have been doing for a while and is just now sort of catching steam here. And it really the first time I ever encountered it was from Australian Indigenous folks coming to visit Harvard. And they do a sort of like welcome to country, they do an acknowledgment that is part of their Indigenous protocols. But the interesting thing that has happened is now everyone is really on this land acknowledgment train without thinking about moving beyond the acknowledgment into action because an acknowledgment is like great, and that's fine. But one, a lot of times people don't even do the research and they just like go to native-land.ca and they look it up two minutes before the event and they butcher the names and they mispronounce them or they give the wrong attribution or whatever. So that's one thing. And then two, it's completely empty if it doesn't have action behind it. So, I mean, we can talk about the movement towards land back of thinking land back rather than land acknowledgment. And I think that's a way that we can start this conversation of like what can people do is thinking about this concept of land back and knowing that land back is not just giving of the physical land back into stewardship of Indigenous hands, but the cultural aspects that come with that, the Indigenous knowledges that come with that, the relationships to the non-human relatives in that land that come with that. So it's a shorthand for talking about reestablishing these relationships in communities. And so anything that we can do that moves the needle toward that to me is an important step and an important action in your region. There's real rent Seattle, where folks can pay money monthly directly to Duwamish people. There are other such organizations throughout the country. That's an amazing way to think about giving actual money where your mouth is in terms of paying folks for the land that you're living on. And yeah, I think giving to native organizations is also a really important step. And if you want to make that part of your Thanksgiving Day practice, there is no shortage of incredible list of organizations and community based projects that you can support.

MATIKA: And you can learn to be in good relationship with the Indigenous people and land that you occupy, there is and I say this over and over and over again, but there is nowhere in North America that does not have an Indigenous history and an Indigenous people. And that means that no matter where you are listening to this from, you have an opportunity to build relationship with the Indigenous history, people and land. That's complicated and difficult. I know. But if I can travel around the country and make friends and relatives with Indigenous people, you know, in over 400 tribal communities, so can you, you know, like finding like people have always often say to me, like, well, I would like to be in good relationship with native people, but I simply don't know any native people. And that to me is like, well, you know, it's time to start making relationships with people that look different than you, you know, and that's like that seems so like ephemeral, like something happening way out there outside of myself. But it's something that we can all do

ADRIENNE: Go make friends, just go-

MATIKA: -right now in our own community and make friends, you know, make friends and be of service and and make space at our table. You know, like if we if we are belong to an organization or work in an organization where everybody looks the same as us, then we're not doing the work of dismantling racism. You know, we can't be as woke as we claim if everybody that we work with and everybody at our table looks like us, you know, like it requires making space and making space to redistribute power, as we talked about in some of our other episodes. And I think that's a really good thing to think about on Thanksgiving, you know, and on this national holiday is whether or not it's a good opportunity to kind of reset and reevaluate, like have am I am I doing the work in my organization and in my family and in my community to be in good relationship with the Indigenous people of the place that I live?

ADRIENNE: So I just got this mental image of like a table full of like very like WASPy white folks, like doing a land acknowledgment before their Thanksgiving meal. So let's not do that if we're gathering with our families. I mean, we have a lot of listeners of this podcast. So I think that we should encourage folks, if you are non-native, to make a decision collectively about the people that you're going to come together with, about what native organization are you going to support on Thanksgiving Day? What action steps are you going to take as your family, as your friendsgiving however you're running it this year? What is what are you going to do to start to take these steps to be in good relationship with the land and the people who come from the land that you occupy? So it's not a huge ask, but I think is something that could be really powerful, start to reframe the day from just something that we do to celebrate this American myth to something that could actually start to make real change.

MATIKA: Mm hmm. Yes. And if you don't have anybody to be in good relationship, be a good relationship with us. Wealth in Indigenous communities historically in the Pacific Northwest was not measured by how much I could acquire, but by how much I could give away. And so if I really would like to participate in Thanksgiving that honors Indigenous people, then I would think to myself, how can I give more away on this day instead of how can I acquire more? And so if we're debunking the myth of Thanksgiving, then to me the natural action is to think through what I can give away on Thanksgiving, you know, like what organizations can I give to what and what do I have in my home that I don't need that somebody else may need? How can I be of service to my community? How can I how can I do that in a good way? That's, I think, a really great framework for thinking about shifting our belief systems around this holiday.

ADRIENNE: And that's an important point to that, that it doesn't have to be a monetary thing, like it can be your time. It can be your skills. It can be a lot of things that you offer to the local community. It does not have to just be financial.

MATIKA: Thank you, Paula Peters and Linda Coombs, for joining us. Thank you, Charlotte Logan for giving that Thanksgiving address. [] with [] Monroe for your speech, given at the fiftieth day of mourning and a special thanks to Greg Kramer for the music on this episode. We love you.

ADRIENNE: And thanks to so many of you supporting our patriot and our team at all, my relations has grown and we are so excited to welcome interns Lindsay Hightower, Keoni Rodriguez, John Ayon and Hailey Grace O'Brien, as well as new hires Edison Hunter Chu and Will Paisley. And of course, thank you to our forever team, Kristen Bolan and Teo Shantz.

MATIKA: As always, thank you so much for listening to all my relations. If you would like to support us, it would super help us out if you would hit the subscribe button like us or leave a comment, share on social media. All the things really help us out. Thank you. Yay!


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