Statement from Leonard Peltier, 40th National Day of Mourning, Nov. 26, in Plymouth, Mass.
Greetings and Hoka Hey!
I would request everyone who can to stand up for a few moments. Stand up for our ancestors. Stand up for our children. Stand up for our country.
To the United American Indians of New England, your supporters, and people of conscience everywhere: What a great day this is! It’s always good to see our people come together as one mind, especially at this time. As we have seen for generations, this week and month American schools will be teaching students the myth of the pilgrims and Indians celebrating the first Thanksgiving. Children will be cutting out paper headbands and “woo-wooing” as they think Indians do—never thinking about the real Indians who suffered an immigrant onslaught, or the Indians still here. This process continues the Americans’ bad habit of ignoring or falsifying their own history. I know it is easier to teach a fairy tale than to teach that the first Thanksgiving was a celebration of the massacre of defenseless Indian people, but facts are facts and this country needs to get them straight!
American families will be gathering and eating too much turkey and watching football, oblivious to an ongoing struggle for American Indian sovereignty and self-determination. While it’s always a good idea for people to come together and celebrate, we Indians offer a caution: Those who forget their history are doomed to repeat it, or have it righteously inflicted upon them! So overeaters beware! You never know when your wars, your bigotry, your poisons—your whole legacy—will come back to haunt you! While you gorge yourself, we will celebrate today as a day of mourning and fasting for our ancestors and our land. We know the observation comes before the feast.
As an activist and political prisoner here in the “land of the free,” I respect and support the mission of UAINE. You, as well as the American Indian Movement and Indian people of various organizations, have pursued honorable goals even when you got beaten and oppressed for doing so. We as Indian people must never let this country or the world forget that we were here. In your area specifically, Wampanoags, Narragansetts and others flourished in harmony with the land and sea. We thrived. We welcomed outsiders and they survived only through our generosity. For our troubles we suffered unjust wars, had our lands stolen, received disease-infested blankets, and continue to experience treaty violations. You are at ground zero of our genocide. You are patient zero.
I know you will never forget or allow others to forget the real history of America. Let them sit on Plymouth Rock until they see the errors of their ways! Stay united! Stay committed to the struggle! Never give up the fight! We were here! We are still here! We will always be here! Shout it with me—HOKA HEY!
In the Spirit of Crazy Horse,