National Day of Mourning, Native Americans, Thanksgiving
American Indians and their supporters march around Cole's Hill in Plymouth, Mass., during the 35th National Day of Mourning, after they gathered by the statue of Massasoit on the hill to speak about the conditions faced by indigenous people throughout the Americas. (Photo by Chitose Suzuki/AP/Shutterstock)

National Day of Mourning Enters 50th Year in 2019

The National Day of Mourning, which commemorates the genocide of Native Americans every fourth Thursday of November instead of Thanksgiving, is now in its 50th year.

It began in 1970, when a member and leader of the tribe that had originally met the pilgrims from the Mayflower landing wanted to give a speech at a yearly dinner in Plymouth, Mass., that commemorated the ship’s arrival.

“The Pilgrims had hardly explored the shores of Cape Cod for four days before they had robbed the graves of my ancestors and stolen their corn and beans,” reads one line from the speech that Aquinnah Wampanoag tribal leader Wamsutta Frank James wanted to give 50 years ago.

But he was stopped from speaking the truth about what really happened. The National Day of Mourning was born from James’ refusal to change his speech.

Instead of a traditional Thanksgiving, both Native Americans and nonnative people come together on Cole’s Hill, overlooking Plymouth Rock. This year will be no different.

Related Article: ‘Decolonizing Wealth:’ Edgar Villanueva Discusses How Money Can Heal Native American Communities

On Cole’s Hill, there is a plaque that reads, in part: “Thanksgiving Day is a reminder of the genocide of millions of their people, the theft of their lands, and the relentless assault on their cultures. Participants in National Day of Mourning honor Native ancestors and the struggles of Native peoples to survive today.”

Even in modern times, Native Americans face higher rates of unemployment, violence and food scarcity. Native people also face the highest rate of suicide and the second-highest rate of opioid overdoses of any demographic groups in the entire country.

“Thanksgiving is the day which we call the National Day of Mourning because we are still not getting our just dues as those original people that helped form this country, that had relationships to help those first settlers establish and create this great country,” Cedric Cromwell, chairman of the Wampanoag tribe, told CNN. “And where are we today as Wampanoag people? We’re still fighting for our rights.”

Related Article: President Ignores Native American Heritage Month, Makes It About White Founding Fathers Instead

Learn about Native American Heritage Month with our Meeting in a Box.

Latest News

AIG’s Brandi Monique Shares her Mentorship Journey

AIG’s assistant vice president Brandi Monique shares the mentor relationships that led her to her success at AIG. Monique defines mentorship as an organic connection — rather than a formal relationship — between a mentor and mentee. Monique says from her early days at AIG, she sought potential mentorship relationships…

Cigna

Despite Drops in Insurance Coverage in the US, Companies Are Stepping Up

In 2018, 27.5 million people (8.5% of the U.S. population) did not have health insurance. That’s the highest number of uninsured Americans since 2009, according to a report from the US Census Bureau. Despite a strong economy, increasingly more Americans have no coverage. The dip is driven mostly by fewer people qualifying for Medicaid. People of color are particularly affected…

AIG Lynn Oldfield Named CEO of the Year

Lynn Oldfield Named CEO of the Year at Insurance Business Canada Awards  Lynn Oldfield, President and CEO of AIG Canada, was recently named CEO of the year at the Insurance Business Canada awards, in recognition of her “exceptional leadership” and other criteria in excellence. “This award is a reflection of…