Native Americans recognize National Day of Mourning

Published: Nov. 26, 2020 at 7:46 PM EST
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - While many Americans are celebrating thanksgiving by eating turkey with their families, indigenous people recognize it as National Day of Mourning: a day their land was stolen.

The day has been established for 50 years by the United Native Americans of New England. For the first time this year, they live-streamed their march to Plymouth Rock so more people from home could see a different side of thanksgiving.

JMU Professor and Archaeologist, Carole Nash, said the story still affects Native Americans who are fighting to keep their land today.

“Many different tribes recognize this day in different ways, but they all recognize it as a day when the acknowledgement of their presence,” Nash said. “Their loss should be part of what we are remembering today.”

Nash also said there are 11 state-recognized tribes in Virginia and are invisible to most people.

Day of Mourning has been nationally recognized by Native Americans but is gaining more attention thanks to social media.

Nash said people need to open their minds and listen, and what is taught in schools about thanksgiving and the struggles of indigenous people needs to change.

“There are many things that happened to them over the years. The genocide, the loss of culture, the loss of language, the loss of land, um that have to be remedied. They have to be rectified in some way,” Nash said. “I think it’s important for all of us to acknowledge that it’s part of our American history.”

She said it’s a difficult topic, but it’s important to teach the full context about the holiday.

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