[Hpn] Re: Happy Turkey Day! RANT 'WAY LONG, the impatient should delete

Thomas Cagle nh-adapt@juno.com
Fri, 24 Nov 2000 19:04:02 -0500


On Fri, 24 Nov 2000 02:49:32 EST ADAPTLA@aol.com writes:
> In a message dated 11/23/00 5:23:10 PM Pacific Standard Time, 
> nh-adapt@juno.com writes:
> 
> << There is a longish story in here, that I won't bore you with >>
> Tom, dude, I wish you would.. I'm not the AB favorite in my town, by 
> any means, but they've never sent that many piggies to observe
> my every move.. that i know of, at least! this of course does not
> mean that they're any less interested in what we do as a group,
> just that I'm not a significant number of people unless others are
> with me.  Happy pilgrim-punching! i hope they like nice cold baths..
> your pal
> david the h
>

*sigh*
OK David, This is pretty much off the thread of disability issues
directly. It IS on thread to access and civil rights issues, so while
this story aint a direct hit, it punches several parts of the periphery
of disability activism.

Ever since 1970 natives have been gathering at Cole's Hill park (about
200 yards from "the rock") to recount some of the history of east coast
natives, to shake off a little bit myth and horse manure that gets passed
around about happy shinning injuns and pilgrims making a first peace and
welcome feast. 

***The facts was what ever there may have been for a first thanksgiving
feast, it was to commemorate the massacre of a Pequoit village, something
like 700 men women and children died to make a memorable event. This is
as close as any historian has come to finding record of "why" there was
thanksgiving in first person accounts--records of Plymouth colony.***

*more sighing*
350 odd years later AIM wanders on the political map and some of the
folks I want to call grumpy old men and women, basically the founders of
restoring native culture and history to east coast natives decide to go
back to ground zero, or at least what the dominant culture has awarded as
ground zero (Plymouth rock, which is a fiction in its own right as it 1.
Plymouth wasn't where they landed. 2. Nobody ever recorded any mention of
a 'rock'  3. The rock enshrined was in the middle of town until the 19th
century, several hundred yards inland. Anyway most of these folks I wanna
call grumpy old men and women were folks like Winona or Ankwe. Both of
whom held socials in church halls or their living rooms and did things
like go public about their heritage, and even "out" at times other folks
they knew were also part native by birth... By now some of this should
start to sound familiar with other people who have been politically
active and activists.

To digress some more Ankwe who was a WWII vet and did do some solo
activism that is still talked about 40 years later. Himself went to the
statehouse steps in Boston one day (after turning in press releases to
the papers) with "one native scalp" (his own) and did demand his bounty
of 5 Pounds sterling as that was the cash bounty still on Massachusetts
books in 1960. He showed up in uniform and his earned combat medals and
offered to let any bureaucrat come and try to take his scalp for the cash
exchange. This did make local press, the laws were shortly amended.

I make this long digression to give some tone to the sorts of people who
started the observance of day of mourning. Which was in just about the
most hideous place to hold a vigil I can think of. The coast of
Massachusetts on the butt end of November is eater rainy windy and bone
chilling cold, or just plain cold as hell. 

So for thirty years there was a tiny observance of a few of what I wanna
call 'those grumpy old guys' who did what they did up on Cole's Hill, and
then walked to where Metacomet's (Prince Phillip) head was put on a pike
for display as warning to all indians, and a summation at the rock
itself. The day concluded over at a local parish hall for a rather
subdued feast.

I am gonna digress a lot here, this really grips my ass and you DID ask.
Do I think I have special and different rights than the general
population? Namely to access to hunt, fish, and exemption to certain
taxes? Based on my and many others peoples reading of the applicable
treaties, you can bet the farm I do. Are they limited to certain parcels
of ground or reservations? No in fact they were written with those
specific exemptions, permitting me and my descendants to do that off
reservation, or over international borders. The fact that I do not hunt
or fish, and do pay some of those taxes is a voluntary act on my part. I
could in fact live closer to an established reserve and shop tax free if
I wanted to. In fact I have often driven out of my way to do so. I may
have also neglected to collect applicable taxes that could have been
levied to other native people of my acquaintance should we have done
business, when I was working. Because it was my right to NOT do so by
treaty. 

I have to confess I never went to day of mourning until after. The
'after' in this story was in 1997 when in order to make down town
Plymouth a better sight for some sort of Disney-fied happy shinning faces
thanksgiving day reinactor  rendezvous the town fathers instructed the
local PD to get "those people" off the streets. When the organizers
talked to the town PD on the day of the observace, no warning was given
to not leave Cole's Hill park, and when folks left they were
clubbed-pepper sprayed and arrested, 25 of them in all. 

With 19 ultimately refusing to plead out to some other unspecified
charge. I have no problem with those who did have to plead, they may have
not lived nearby or had jobs that simply made a long court fight not
practical.

I learned of the fracas at Plymouth from Diane Munson, her mum was about
my parents age, she qualifies as one of those grumpy old guys. Anyway
while she is pushing 80 and will stare down a tank if prodded, IMO she
was too old to be beat up and pepper sprayed. And if you have not guessed
I will not be told I can't go to a place, you can kill me if I try, but
you can't tell me not to go. I became one of many agitating for dismissal
of the criminal charges and an end to rousting folks who met on
thanksgiving day for day of mourning.

Rustling up folks to do the retail politics that are required of any sort
of local activism and to pack the court house for EVERY hearing, motion,
bail reduction, ad nauseum is exhausting as too many readers of this list
know. All charges were finally dropped October 19th of 1998 as the
biggest observance ever was being actively recruited.

**Another digression** More than one of the people arrested were fluent
in both their tribal language and english. It was sort of deja vu to hear
them request translation of all court proceedings into their tribal
language. Of course readers of this list have never heard of similar
requests for ASL interpretation at court...

Well this story probably doesn't give the "pilgrim tossing" spin David
was looking for. Other than I can tell ya' I was at just about every one
of the court hearings, and have been at all the following days. I too
have even permitted myself to do a bit of day dreaming while shivering on
a soggy November afternoon exposed to an atlantic breeze. "What would've
happened if they HAD simply shot the buggers as they climbed off the
boat?" A more satisfying recollection was the time the judge grilled the
DA over why there was 300 people in attendance for a motion hearing, only
to be bailed out by  a defence attorney who explained that the defendants
were members of large extended families who were  pessimistic of their
kin receiving justice due to the police actions that got all the parties
there to begin with. It may not be quite enough to keep me warm in a
chill atlantic breeze, but it helps.

There were over 2000 people who marched in the 1998 day of mourning, and
I have never seen as many cops at an action ever. Not even at the largest
ADAPT action I have attended. In my opinion they could have had as many
as 1000 cops for the '98 day. This too was an uneventful day as there was
no violence from the natives. I sort of expect that when the bar-tab for
this bit of sillyness was finally called due, the townies had to figure
out a way to live with us injun's.

For those who need--want more information look at the UNAINE page on this
issue: 
http://idt.net/~unaine19/settlement.html

Hm, I wonder if this makes me one of those grumpy old guys...

Tom C.



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