A NOT SO HAPPY THANKSGIVING…
But a pause to remember…during a National Day of Mourning.
In the time I’ve been living in the US and finding out that my granny was born in Washington State, I’ve been spending hours and hours digging into my American ancestry.
Shock and horror to also find out that her lineage goes all the way back to the “Pilgrims” that came over on the Mayflower. Substantiated over the period from not only the hours of graft, but also linked through DNA testing.
One Peter Browne, manifested as a Stranger on the ship’s paperwork where the Pilgrims placed themselves under the heading “Saints,” and the others that they required such as thatchers, builders/stone masons, hunters, butchers, soldiers etc under the heading “Strangers.”
I’ve now spent over 6 years researching both my family and the Pilgrims (not known by that name until the late 1800s. Like much of history including my own country of Scotland’s, glorified during the Victorian era).
However, I find it hard coming anywhere close to celebrating this American holiday when I know how American history taught in schools has glossed over the ethnic cleansing of a Nation already established here…and all under the guise of “Settlers.”
As I have family that took part in this, I choose to remember both the Native Americans lost in fighting to keep their lands, and those lost too through disease brought over by the Europeans and British. I also choose to remember my family, many who went through extreme hardships over the many decades having been born here. Born into the scenario made for them by their ancestors, tough choices to make to move forward trying to do what was best for their families and communities…tough indeed for all sides the more time moved forward.
Many from my family made the decision to try for a better life by going on such adventures as the Oregon Trail…starting in the East as farmers, hoping to strike it lucky by finding gold, by taking the dangerous journey through the badlands…only to find nothing at the end of it, and then back to becoming farmers in the West. Over a two hundred year period, the Browne family alone would migrate from today’s New England, up into Canada, down to the Southern States, to the Mid West and across to the West coast. That’s just one branch of one family, coming from one young laddie arriving in 1620 with the Pilgrims.
Interesting and extremely tough times, but due to my ever deepening knowledge of my American family and their exploits over generations, and those Native Americans who would ultimately lose everything, today will be a quiet day with a mark of respect for my American ancestors but to mainly the latter…as my ancestors came as settlers and would have had a hand in the genocide of many.
No doubt about it, I’ve spent lots of time thinking through just what it must have been like. From young Peter Browne volunteering as a “Stranger,” and unknown to him way back then, have his name forever in history along with the Pilgrims. By becoming one of the first settlers to tough it out and begin what would be seen as the first permanent and successful settlement in the new world, enlarging quickly with settlers arriving from the old world in other ships…but ultimately at what cost? Disease, fighting and hardships of every kind possible all taking it’s toll on the community.
Maybe one day soon Thanksgiving will be replaced by a holiday for all Americans to remember the Native Americans, and what was done to them. To think through a few truths in America’s historical past. The full truth as opposed to the glossed over version being told in American schools would be a terrific start. However, I doubt that would happen given the large amounts of $$$$$ made, generated annually by the present holiday in the shape that it is. But who knows, just maybe that truth and integrity will better greed and large profit?
So, here’s to a day’s pause for thought of America’s indigenous tribes, men women and children, slaughtered through fighting, and slaughtered through disease. To the later British and European background families and others, who would be born into the new world back in those early days, and really had no choice in the matter of fighting their foes for survival and a better life. Here’s also to their men, women and children, also slaughtered through fighting, and slaughtered through disease.
Tough, tough thoughts, but thoughts that ought to be shared, and discussed by all Americans, and discussed within families and friends at least on this day once a year.