A national day of mourning

November 29, 2010

PLYMOUTH, Mass.--Several hundred people gathered here on Thanksgiving Day for the 41st National Day of Mourning, organized by the United American Indians of New England.

The annual rally and march is meant to honor the memory of the countless Native Americans who were slaughtered, maimed, robbed and repressed during the process of European and, later, U.S. colonial expansion into Native American lands--beginning, of course, with the arrival of the first "Pilgrims" and continuing to this day.

This year's Day of Mourning was dedicated to longtime American Indian activist and political prisoner Leonard Peltier, who has been unjustly imprisoned since 1977.

In a prepared statement from Peltier, which was read aloud to the crowd, he cited the persisting injustices suffered by American Indians today, from crushing poverty to government repression.

Other speakers talked about the injustice of Native Americans being relegated to reservations, established on substandard land, where the federal government, to this day, continues to assign prisoner-of-war numbers to every member of the tribe living there.

Despite the pall that hung over the occasion, many present felt inspired by the event. The conclusion of Peltier's prepared statement summed up well this particular mood, and included the famous last words of the martyred labor organizer and socialist Joe Hill: "Don't mourn, organize!"

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