Archive | November, 2009

The True Thanksgiving

24 Nov

  I have never spent much time pondering the “true” thanksgiving. I thought I knew by logical deduction that Thanksgiving was actually the Fall Feast of the Wampanog People, who had taught the immigrants how to survive in the new land. To Native people the gifts of the Creator such as taking in a “harvest” is not complete until a ceremony of thanks to the spirits is done. That was all part of the teachings of survival.

 The popular image of thanksgiving is a vision of a feast, which took place in 1621 after a treaty signing which gave the English permission to inhabit 12000 acres of land. This feast was not that of giving thanks but one of friendship.

 But what is the “true” Thanksgiving all about. In contemporary times Thanksgiving is about this feast of friendship between the Native people of this land and the European Immigrants who first colonized the East Coast. In looking at this scenario there begins a current of pleasantry masking the actual events and crimes against humanity that followed good will and trust offered by our Native people. What part of history is not mentioned in modern times but is evident in the writings of the settlers? Let me offer some information and you may draw your own conclusions based on the words of the immigrants themselves.

 The first information, which shows an official announcement of a day of Thanksgiving, took place in 1637.  After a massacre as described by historian Francis Jennings regarding the tactics chosen by Captain John Mason of Connecticut. “Battle is only one way to destroy an enemy’s will to fight. Massacre can accomplish the same end with less risk, and Mason had determined that massacre would be his objective.”  A tactic was decided upon and carried out by colonists from Massachusetts, Plymouth and Connecticut. The massacre took place when the Pequot’s were in the midst of their “Green Corn Dance”. This is now known as the Underhill Massacre in honor of John Underhill who lead men from Massachusetts.

 An unnamed Puritan officer present at the attack has written. “The Indians spying of us came running in multitudes along the water side, crying ‘What cheer, Englishmen, what cheer, what do you come for?’ They not thinking we intended war went on cheerfully.”

 Written in History of the Plymouth Plantation by William Bradford is this description of the day’s events. “Those that scaped the fire were sliane with the sword; some hewed to pieces, others run throw with their rapiers, so as they were quickly dispatched and very few escaped. It was conceived they thus destroyed about 400 at this time. It was a fearful sight to see them thus frying in the fryer, and the streams of blood quenching the same, and the horrible was the stincke and sente there of , but the victory seemed a sweet sacrifice, and they gave the prayers thereof to God, who had wrought so wonderfully for then, thus to inclose their enemise in their hands, and gave them so speedy a victory over so proud and insulting and eminie.” This is how, when and where 700-900 Pequot elders, men, women and children spent their last moments.

 The “first” documented Day of Thanksgiving was proclaimed by the governor of the Massachusetts Bay colony, John Winthrop: “The 12th of the 8th m. was ordered to bee kept a day o publicke thanksgiving to God for his great m’cies in subdewing the Pecoits, bringing the soldiers in safety, the successe of the conference….”


Warm Up with Soup & Culture!

10 Nov

Come help kick off International Week and try some international soups, yummy desserts and breads for $5.00 per person and see our collection of history for free!

 The Ziibiwing Center and the Mt. Pleasant International Relations Committee (IRC) invite you to an afternoon of tasting and sharing of favorite international soups on November 14 from 2pm – 5pm. This multi-cultural event is a fundraiser to promote international relations and opportunities. The Ziibiwing Center will also be holding their collection showing from 10am – 5pm. The collection on display is often referred to as the “heart of our organization” and includes a vast assortment of materials that have been donated this year such as original family documents relating to land & family history, historic & rare family photographs, and North American Indian book collections.

The success of our collections relies upon the members of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan and the general public. The All That You Give We Hold in the Highest Regard: Community Donations Exhibit will feature recent and past additions to the Ziibiwing Center Permanent Collection.

Don’t miss your chance to appreciate the generosity of our supporters at this special one-day exhibition that is free and open to the public.

We hope to see you soon!

Spirit Feast

5 Nov

Come join the Ziibiwing Center at the Spirit Feast this Friday, November 6 from 6pm – 8pm. The Spirit Feast is an Anishinabe ceremony that honors our ancestors and the loved ones that have gone on before us. It is also considered a healing ceremony for those of us who are still grieving. This is a time to share the special food, photos, and stories of the one(s) who have touched our lives. As we draw close to Veteran’s Day, the Spirit Feast is also a time to remember our relatives who have fallen in foreign lands and may still remain there. A sacred fire will be lit for miijim (food) and semaa (tobacco) offerings.

People of all ages are welcome to partake in this gathering. We ask that all women wear long skirts. Please bring your feast bundles.

The Spirit Feast is free and open to the public.