When: Thursday, November 22 2018 12:00pm–2:30pm
Where: Coles Hill, Plymouth, MA 02360, USA
On November 22, 2018, the United American Indians of New England (UAINE) braved the bitter cold to host the 49th annual National Day of Mourning in Plymouth, MA. Behind the statue of Massasoit on Cole’s Hill sat a small stage and the UAINE banner which reads: “We are not vanishing, we are not conquered, we are as strong as ever.” Reflecting this message, the National Day of Mourning is simultaneously an event in remembrance of a violent history and a protest against the contemporary racism and oppression faced by Indigenous peoples globally.
Co-leaders of the UAINE, Moonanum James and Mahtowin Munro, began the event. James spoke about the 1970 inception of the National Day of Mourning when his father, Wamsutta Frank James, was censored by organizers of the 350th commemoration of the pilgrims’ arrival. James’s message of solidarity elicited cheers from the crowd: “Today is a powerful demonstration of not only indigenous unity, but the unity of all people who want to speak truth to power.” Munro’s speech highlighted the issues of child separation at the border, linking it to the history of forced adoption of Native children, and the missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people.
Other speeches addressed environmental concerns, forced sterilization of Indigenous women, and the incarceration of Indigenous activists. Elder Bert Waters, per tradition, read a statement by Leonard Peltier, a Native political prisoner, that expressed both hope and fatigue regarding the fight for Indigenous rights. Drawing international connections, a Palestinian flag flew next to the UAINE banner, Marjorie Flowers spoke about her fight to halt the Muskrat Falls megadam project in Labrador, Canada, and Juan Gonzalez brought a message from the Mayan Council of Elders.
Following a solidarity march down Main Street in Plymouth led by drums and banners, the group gathered at Plymouth Rock to conclude the event.