The Wampanoag Peoples have lived in the region of what is now southeastern Massachusetts for more than 12,000 years. The year 2020 represents 400 years since colonizers voyaged on the Mayflower and founded Plymouth Colony as settlers on Native land. This anniversary is a time of reckoning with that history of violence, dispossession, removal. The story of Plymouth Colony cannot be told without the perspectives of Indigenous Peoples who were here as that ship arrived and who still remain.
It was the Wampanoag People, the people of the first light, that encountered the Pilgrims when they arrived to Turtle Island (North America) from Europe in 1620. Since 1863, Thanksgiving has been celebrated as a national holiday in the United States, mythologizing the violent events that followed European arrival into a story of friendship and mutual sharing. But the reality is that the Wampanoags’ generosity was met with genocide, and this truth has been systematically suppressed in the US education system, government, and popular culture.
It's time to recognize that celebrating the life of Christopher Columbus is the same as celebrating the erasure of Indigenous existence.
"We believe it is important to hear the other side of the story-- the Indigenous side-- because there are detrimental implications to learning about the side of history that makes heroes of colonizers, and erases those who were colonized" say Shaldon Ferris and Avexnim Cotji, Indigenous Rights Radio producers.