Learn the Truth about Thanksgiving, this celebration of genocide of millions of people native to the Americas, as well as the ritual mass-slaughter of 43 million turkeys for this one day, in this year alone.


On Thanksgiving morning 2003, George W. Bush showed up in Iraq before sunrise for a photo-op, wearing an Army workout jacket and surrounded by soldiers. He cradled a platter with what appeared to be a golden-brown turkey. Washington Post reporter Mike Allen wrote that “the bird looks perfect, with bunches of grapes and other trimmings completing a Norman Rockwell image that evokes bounty and security in one of the most dangerous parts of the world.”

As the world was soon to learn (but quickly forgot), the turkey platter was a phony, a plastic decoration that Bush posed with for the cameras. Bush shook a few hands, said a few “God Bless Americas,” and scurried back to his plane as quickly as he had arrived.

Thus, in one fell swoop, the new Conquistador had tied to history’s bloody bough the 511-year-old conquest of the “New World” ­ whose legions smote the indigenous population in the name of Christ ­ with the U.S. government’s bombardment and invasion of Iraq and the torture-detentions of prisoners of war at U.S. military bases.

Also read: Glen Ford, The End of American Thanksgivings: A Cause for Universal Rejoicing;

Robert Jensen; S. Brian Wilson

Under the presidencies of Bush 1, Clinton, Bush Jr., Obama, Trump, and now Biden, U.S. policy blanketed the Iraqi and Afghan landscapes with so-called “depleted” uranium armaments and poisoned the agriculture and water supply for the next several billion years.

As I wrote in the first printing of this pamphlet in 2004, U.S. troops at the time were blasting their way through the town of Fallujah, and hundreds of dead civilians lay in the streets everywhere. The military called them “corpses” and “collateral damage” — and so too did the corporate media. U.S. and British journalists fled the carnage and returned only as “embeds” — reporters planted in the safety of large army squadrons. They embellished slightly on military press releases and faxed their reports to their editors as “eyewitness news”. It was mainly through the photos taken by Arab journalists and independent media that we learned of the actual horror, of the children’s bodies lying in the street alongside the tanks as American soldiers surveyed the scene.

The NY Post ran a picture of one of those soldiers and captioned him the “Marlboro Man,” the generic embodiment of what it means to be a “man,” rugged, oil-smeared face dragging on a U.S. cigarette. It’s not the individual grunt’s fault that the corporate media needs to invent its heroes in such caricatures, but forgive me if I look elsewhere — perhaps to the Zapatistas and to the huge mass-movement sweeping Mexico, to the hundreds of military resisters in Israel as well as the U.S., to the immigrants rounded up for simply existing, to the Wall Street Occupyers and to political prisoners like Mumia Abu-Jamal, Leonard Peltier, Julian Assange, and Chelsea Manning for reclaiming what it means to be human in an era of robots and banksters.

Comedian Jon Stewart put the same issue thusly:

“The danger of oppression is not just being oppressed, it’s becoming an oppressor. Because that will deteriorate a society as quickly as being oppressed. And that’s a real danger.”

But for the U.S. corporate media, the policies of Israel are sacrosanct (let alone acceptance of that country’s existence — or any country’s existence — as a religious state. It rarely questions the huge wall the Israeli colonists have built — basically, a concentration camp — around and through Palestine, paid for by U.S. tax dollars. The Palestinians are to Israel what the Pequot are to the U.S.

The mindset that created the first Thanksgiving in the 17th century on the bodies of murdered Pequot Indians runs through the same veins today four centuries later, over the corpses of murdered Vietnamese, Salvadorans, Chileans, Somalians, South Africans, Iraqis, Afghanis, and Palestinians.

* * *

In November 2003, as George Bush’s plane was landing in the pre-dawn hours for his faux-dinner in Iraq, I wrote “Why I Hate Thanks­giving,” and it was published all over the place under various titles, such as Counterpunch’s “Genocide? Pass the Turkey.” Much has transpired since then — two national elections were stolen, Fallujah invaded, tens of thousands of soldiers and civilians have been killed for Big Oil and Empire, and ignorant armies clash by night. Enormous antiwar protests and worldwide occupations by the 99 percent rise up to deliver blows against the empire. The manufactured and false history of Thanksgiving re-emerges this week in the Shopping Malls of suburbia, and all the way through Christmas it becomes one perpetual Shop till You Drop Night of the Living Dead. America’s true religion shopping! resurfaces annually, even in these economically depressed times.

What is it about Thanksgiving that makes normally reasonable and loving people join in the cultish slaughter of tens of millions of turkeys on that day? Why do we buy turkeys on cue? Yes, I fondly remember the results of Aunt Dora’s secret recipe for her delicious turkey stuffing that I enjoyed so much as a kid. But, stop and think: Aren’t you as revolted as I am by the nationwide ritual of blood and slaughter that binds this country together? Americans fetishize football and feast on turkey. The networks broadcast sanitized images of blown-up Iraqi and Afghan children.

FALLUJAH, November 2004 — U.S. tank crew surveys bodies of children killed as U.S. tanks barreled into Fallujah. Many reported that tanks had rolled over wounded Iraqis lying in the streets, as U.S. forces advanced.
FALLUJAH, November 2004 — U.S. tank crew surveys bodies of children killed as U.S. tanks barreled into Fallujah. Many reported that tanks had rolled over wounded Iraqis lying in the streets, as U.S. forces advanced.


Towards the end of his life, William Kunstler, bless his soul — now whirling in his grave furiously to generate the energy needed to power all the indymedia websites worldwide — began to make the links between the mass slaughter of animals, capital punishment and the history of colonization … and, what we’d need to do to begin to change things. Kunstler wrote that “Marjorie Spiegel, a neighbor of mine in Greenwich Village, has written a most compelling book — The Dreaded Comparison — in which she details the devastating similarities between animal and human slavery.” He continues:

Alice Walker, in her most eloquent foreword, states that ‘The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for whites or women for men.’ …

We owe it to ourselves and the animal world as well to create, not merely a body of rules and regulations to govern our conduct but a level of sensibility that makes us care, deeply and constructively, about the entire planet and all of its varied inhabitants. If we can accomplish this, then, perhaps, in some far-off day, those who follow us down the track of the generations will be able to dwell in relative harmony with all the creatures of the earth, human and nonhuman.

The ritual slaughter of turkeys; the fact that each American’s average Thanksgiving dinner is 2000 calories, and that we live in a country with 5% of the world’s people consuming 27% of the world’s natural resources, while making 50% of its garbage — these present us with strong arguments against factory farming. With its subjugation of animals (and plants) to severe abuse, genetic engineering, pesticides, and a sewer of antibiotics, the warm family ties that we long for on Thanksgiving too often drowns out consideration of the torture and mass slaughter of animals and the decline of human health. In fact, Americans are getting sicker in the U.S. physically, as well as mentally. The two are related.

Speaking truth to power is not enough. Justice will not necessarily prevail – not even “eventually,”despite idealistic claims that “eventually” things have to change. How long is eventually? How many people will be tortured and killed in the meantime? How can we stop it? What do we need to do, NOW?

After reading the first printing of “Why I Hate Thanksgiving,” one writer wrote: “Good Lord, I’m so depressed! I hope he doesn’t write ‘Why I Hate Christmas’! His family must really look forward to his arrival on Thanksgiving Day. For my sanity’s sake I think I’ll cling to the revisionist version!”

Another writer asked me: “I’ve been reading your posts for years and I wonder, is there anything you celebrate and take joy in? We never hear about those things, but only about what you find wrong with the world. What do you find right?”

I can answer in one word: “Resistance.” Celebrate Resistance. That is what I take joy in, Resistance in its political, artistic, social, economic, and sexual forms.

* * *


This Thanksgiving Day, like most people in the U.S., I’ll get together with my family, friends and comrades. But it will be with those who believe in and practice resistance. A few years ago I’d decided to fast for the holiday in front of U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer’s apartment in Park Slope, Brooklyn, to protest his and the Democrats’ support and funding for the wars against Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. financing of Israel’s occupation of Palestine, and the detention and torture of immigrants and prisoners of war by the U.S. government.

I was joined that year by 4 or 5 others. During the fast, we meditated upon the threads that bind U.S. policy today to its colonial genocide of the Native people of Turtle Island.

We fasted for Leonard Peltier, Mumia Abu-Jamal, and all political prisoners in the United States.

We fasted against the USA Patriot Act, repression of immigrants, and the decimation of the Bill of Rights.

We fasted against global ecological destruction, and to better contemplate what new forms the resistance will take.

This year, our resistance reclaims and gives new and much-improved meaning to the word “Occupation.” We have begun to turn the despair that permeates this country into resistance. We are CREATING the alternative. BE the alternative.

Don’t allow yourself to experience this holiday, its rituals and warfare, in the ways that this system tries to impose on us. Resist! Please join me on Thanksgiving in collectively meditating over the ways we are manipulated to actually yearn for the petty nationalisms and trappings of empire that fill the hollowed shells we’ve become better than any turkey stuffing, while capitalism goes about destroying the planet.

Resistance keeps you young, forever!

Mitchel Cohen

Please read the rest of the essay, and consider donating some funds so I can circulate this essay in pamphlet form. Thanx.

Why I Hate Thanksgiving

by Mitchel Cohen

with much material contributed by Peter Linebaugh and others whose names have been lost

The year was 1492. The Taino-Arawak people of the Bahamas discovered Christopher Columbus on their beach.

In A People’s History of the United States, historian Howard Zinn writes how Arawak men and women, naked, tawny and full of wonder, emerged from their villages onto the island’s beaches and swam out to get a closer look at the strange big boat. When Columbus and his sailors came ashore carrying swords and speaking oddly, the Arawaks ran to greet them, brought them food, water, gifts. Columbus later wrote of this in his log. Here is what he wrote:

They brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things, which they exchanged for the glass beads and hawks’ bells. They willingly traded everything they owned. They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features. They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron. Their spears are made of sugar cane. They would make fine servants. With 50 men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.

And so the conquest began, and the Thanotocracy — the regime of death — was inaugurated, for the first time, on the continent the Indians called “Turtle Island.”

You probably already know a good piece of the story: How Columbus’s army took Arawak and Taino people prisoners and insisted that they take him to the source of their gold, which they used in tiny ornaments in their ears. And how, with utter contempt and cruelty, Columbus took many more Indians prisoner and put them aboard the Nina and the Pinta — the Santa Maria having run aground on the island of Hispañola (today, the Dominican Republic and Haiti). When some refused to be taken prisoner, they were run through with swords and bled to death. Then the Nina and the Pinta set sail for the Azores and Spain. During the long voyage, many of the Indian prisoners died. Here’s part of Columbus’s report to Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain:

The Indians are so naive and so free with their possessions that no one who has not witnessed them would believe it. When you ask for something they have, they never say no. To the contrary, they offer to share with anyone.

Columbus concluded his report by asking for a little help from the King and Queen, and in return he would bring them “as much gold as they need, and as many slaves as they ask.” Columbus returned to the New World — “new” for Europeans, that is — with 17 ships and more than 1,200 men. Their goal was clear: Slaves, and gold. They went from island to island in the Caribbean, taking Indians as captives.


But word spread ahead of them of their intentions and evil deeds. By the time they got to Fort Navidad on Haiti, the Taino had risen up and killed all the sailors left behind on the last voyage, after the sailors had roamed the island in gangs raping women and taking children and women as slaves. Columbus later wrote: “Let us in the name of the Holy Trinity go on sending all the slaves that can be sold.”

The Indians began fighting back, but were no match for the war technology of the Spaniard conquerors, even though they greatly outnumbered them. In eight years, Columbus’s men murdered more than 100,000 Indians on Haiti alone. Overall, over 3 million Indian people in the Americas died as slave laborers in the mines and from diseases brought to the Caribbean by the Spaniards, or were directly murdered between 1492 and 1508.

What Columbus did to the Arawaks of the Bahamas and the Taino of the Caribbean, Cortez did to the Aztecs of Mexico, Pizarro to the Incas of Peru, and the English settlers of Virginia and Massachusetts to the Powhatans and the Pequots. Literally millions of native people were slaughtered. And the gold, silver, slaves and other resources were shipped to Europe, where they spurred the growth of the new money economy rising out of feudalism. Karl Marx would later call this “the primitive accumulation of capital.” These were the violent beginnings of an intricate system of technology, business, politics, economics, ideology, racism and control over culture that would dominate the world for the next five centuries.


In the North American English colonies, the pattern was set early. In 1585 and before there was any permanent English settlement in Virginia, Richard Grenville landed there with seven ships. The Indians he met were hospitable, but when one of them stole a small silver cup, Grenville sacked and burned the whole Indian village.

The Jamestown colony was established in Virginia in 1607 inside the territory of an Indian confederacy led by the chief, Powhatan. Powhatan watched the English settle on his people’s land, but did not attack. And the English began starving. Some of them ran away and joined the Indians, where they would at least be fed. Indeed, throughout colonial times tens of thousands of indentured servants, prisoners and slaves — from Wales and Scotland as well as from Africa — ran away to live in Indian communities, inter-marry and raise their children there.

In the summer of 1610 the governor of Jamestown colony asked Powhatan to return the runaways, who were living among the Indians. Powhatan left the choice to those who ran away, and none wanted to go back. The governor of Jamestown sent soldiers to get them, and to take revenge. They descended on an Indian community, killed 15 or 16 Indians, burned the houses, cut down the corn, took the female leader of the tribe and her children into boats, and ended up throwing the children overboard and shooting out their brains in the water. The female leader was later taken off the boat and stabbed to death.

By 1621, the atrocities committed by the English had grown, and word spread throughout the Indian villages. The Indians fought back and killed 347 colonists. From then on it was total war. Not able to enslave the Indians the English aristocracy decided to exterminate them.

And then the Pilgrims arrived.


When the Pilgrims came to New England they too were coming not to vacant land but to territory inhabited by tribes of Indians. The story goes that the Pilgrims, who were Christians of the Puritan sect, were fleeing religious persecution in Europe. They had fled England and went to Holland, and from there sailed aboard the May­flower, where they landed near what is now Plymouth, Massa­chusetts.

Religious persecution or not, they immediately turned to their religion to rationalize their persecution of others. They appealed to the Bible, Psalms 2:8: “Ask of me, and I shall give thee, the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.” To justify their use of force to take the land, they cited Romans 13:2: “Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.”

The Puritans lived in uneasy truce with the Pequot Indians, who occupied what is now southern Connecticut and Rhode Island. But they wanted them out of the way; they wanted their land. And they wanted to establish their rule firmly over Connecticut settlers in that area.

The way the different Indian peoples lived — communally, consensually, making decisions through tribal councils — contrasted dramatically with the Puritans’ Christian fundamentalist values. For the Puritans, men decided everything, whereas in the Iroquois federation of what is now New York state women chose the men who represented the clans at village and tribal councils; it was the women who were responsible for de­ciding on whether or not to go to war. The Christian idea of male dominance and female subordination was conspicuously absent in Iroquois society.

There were many other cultural differences: The Iroquois did not use harsh punishment on children. They did not insist on early weaning or early toilet training, but gradually allowed children to learn to care for themselves. On the other hand, the pastor of the Pilgrim colony, John Robinson, advised his parishioners: “And surely there is in all children a stubbornness, and stoutness of mind arising from natural pride, which must, in the first place, be broken and beaten down.” The Pilgrims embraced those strict, brutal practices.

Each tribe held to different sexual/marriage relationships; they practiced many different sexualities, and celebrated them. These ideas repelled the Puritan hierarchy and attracted some of the European “commoners”. Native people did not believe in ownership of land — that concept was totally alien; they utilized the land, lived on it. The idea of “ownership” was ridiculous, absurd. The European Christians, on the other hand, in the spirit of the emerging capitalism, wanted to own and control everything — land, children, sexuality, and other human beings.

In 1636 an armed expedition left Boston to attack the Narragansett Indians on Block Island. The English landed and killed some Indians, but the rest hid in the thick forests of the island and the English went from one deserted village to the next destroying crops. Then they sailed back to the mainland and raided Pequot villages along the coast, destroying crops again.

The English went on setting fire to wigwams in the villages. They burned village after village to the ground. As one of the leading theologians of his day, Dr. Cotton Mather put it: “No less than 600 Pequot souls were brought down to hell that day.” And Cotton Mather, clutching his bible, spurred the English to slaughter more Indians in the name of Christianity.

One colonist rationalized the plague that had destroyed the Patuxet people — a combination of slavery, murder by the colonists and disease brought by the English — as “the Wonderful Preparation of the Lord Jesus Christ by His Providence for His People’s Abode in the Western World.”

The Pilgrims robbed Wampanoag graves for the food that had been buried with the dead for religious reasons. Whenever the Pilgrims realized they were being watched, they shot at the Wampanoags and scalped them. Scalping had been unknown among Native Americans in New England prior to its introduction by the English, who began the practice by offering the heads of their enemies and later accepted scalps.

Three hundred thousand Indians were murdered in New England over the next few years. It was the Puritan elite who wanted the war, a war for land, for gold, for power. It is important to note that ordinary Englishmen did not want this war. Often, very often, they refused to fight.


There has always been a strong anti-war movement in the United States and when some Europeans refused to kill Indians, that was the start of this proud heritage. Some prominent European intellectuals like Roger Williams spoke out against the genocide. And some erstwhile colonists joined the Indians and even took up arms against the invaders from England. In a short time, however, the Indian population of 15 million that was in North America when Columbus came, according to Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, was reduced to less than one million.

“What do you think of Western Civilization?” Mahatma Gandhi was asked in the 1940s. Gandhi sarcastically replied: “Western Civilization? I think it would be a good idea.” And so enters “Civilization,” the civilizing mission of Christian Europe, a “civilizing force” that couldn’t have been more threatened by the beautiful communal anarchy of the Indians they encountered, and so they slaughtered them.

These are the Puritans that the Indians “saved”, and whom we celebrate in the holiday, Thanksgiving. Tisquantum, also known as Squanto, was a member of the Patuxet Indian nation, and Samoset was of the Wabonake Indian nation, which lived in Maine. They went to Puritan villages and, having learned to speak English, brought deer meat and beaver skins for the hungry and freezing Pilgrims. Tisquantum stayed with them and helped them survive their first years in their New World. He taught them how to navigate the waters, fish and cultivate corn and other vegetables. He pointed out poisonous plants and showed how other plants could be used as medicines. He also negotiated a peace treaty between the Pilgrims and Massasoit, head chief of the Wampanoags, a treaty that gave the Pilgrims everything and the Indians nothing. And even that treaty, like hundreds to follow, was soon broken.

We learn in school to celebrate this as the First Thanksgiving. A community college named “Massasoit” today commemorates that indigenous leader who saved the Pilgrims.

Richard B. Williams, a Lakota Sioux and the executive director of the American Indian College Fund — a historian, educator and the founder of the Upward Bound Program at the University of Colorado at Boulder — casts this tale in a very different light:

One day in 1605, a young Patuxet Indian boy named Tisquantum and his dog were out hunting when they spotted a large English merchant ship off the coast of Plymouth, Mass. Tisquantum, who later became known as Squanto, had no idea that life as he knew it was about to change forever.

His role in helping the Pilgrims to survive the harsh New England winter and celebrate the “first” Thanksgiving has been much storied as a legend of happy endings, with the English and the Indians coming together at the same table in racial harmony. Few people, however, know the story of Squanto’s sad life and the demise of his tribe as a result of its generosity. Each year, as the nation sits down to a meal that is celebrated by all cultures and races — the day we know as Thanksgiving — the story of Squanto and the fate of the Patuxet tribe is a footnote in history that deserves re-examination.

The day that Capt. George Weymouth anchored off the coast of Massachusetts, he and his sailors captured Squanto and four other tribesmen and took them back to England as slaves because Weymouth thought his financial backers “might like to see” some Indians. Squanto was taken to live with Sir Ferdinando Gorges, owner of the Plymouth Company. Gorges quickly saw Squanto’s value to his company’s exploits in the new world and taught his young charge to speak English so that his captains could negotiate trade deals with the Indians.

In 1614, Squanto was brought back to America to act as a guide and interpreter to assist in the mapping of the New England coast, but was kidnapped along with 27 other Indians and taken to Malaga, Spain, to be sold as slaves for about $25 a piece. When local priests learned of the fate of the Indians, they took them from the slave traders, Christianized them and eventually sent them back to America in 1618.

But his return home was short-lived. Squanto was recognized by one of Gorges’ captains, was captured a third time and sent back to England as Gorges’ slave. He was later sent back to New England with Thomas Dermer to finish mapping the coast, after which he was promised his freedom. In 1619, however, upon returning to his homeland, Squanto learned that his entire tribe had been wiped out by smallpox contracted from the Europeans two years before. He was the last surviving member of his tribe.

In November 1620, the Pilgrims made their now-famous voyage to the coast of Plymouth, which had previously been the center of Patuxet culture. The next year, on March 22, 1621, Squanto was sent to negotiate a peace treaty between the Wampanoag Confederation of tribes and the Pilgrims. We also know that Squanto’s skills as a fisherman and farmer were crucial to the survival of the Pilgrims that first year — contributions which changed history.

But in November 1622, Squanto himself would also succumb to smallpox during a trading expedition to the Massachusetts Indians. The Patuxet, like so many other tribes, had become extinct.

Feasts of gratitude and giving thanks have been a part of Indian culture for thousands of years. In Lakota culture, it’s called a Wopila; in Navajo, it’s Hozhoni; in Cherokee, it’s Selu i-tse-i; and in Ho Chunk it’s Wicawas warocu sto waroc. Each tribe, each Indian nation, has its own form of Thanksgiving. But for Indian culture, Thanksgiving doesn’t end when the dishes are put away. It is something we celebrate all year long — at the birth of a baby, a safe journey, a new home.

My own feeling? The Indians should have left the Pilgrims to their own devices, even if it meant they would die.

But they couldn’t do that. Their humanity made them assist other human beings in need. And for that beautiful, human, loving connection they paid a terrible price: The genocide of the original inhabitants of Turtle Island, what is now America.


Thanksgiving, in reality, was the beginning of the longest war in the U.S — the extermination of the Indigenous peoples. Thanksgiving day was first proclaimed by the governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1637, not to offer thanks for the Indians saving the Pilgrims — that’s yet another re-write of the actual history — but to commemorate the massacre of 700 indigenous men, women and children who were celebrating their annual Green Corn Dance in their own house.

Gathered at this place, they were attacked by mercenaries, English and Dutch. The Pequots were ordered from the building and as they came forth they were killed with guns, swords, cannons and torches. The rest were burned alive in the building. The very next day the governor proclaimed a holiday and feast to “give thanks” for the massacre. For the next 100 years a governor would ordain a day to honor a bloody victory, thanking god the “battle” had been won. [For more information, see Where White Men Fear To Tread, by Russell Means, 1995; and Facing West: The Metaphysics of Indian Hating and Empire Building, by R. Drinnon, 1990.]

The Maypole

In 1517, twenty-five years after Columbus first landed in the Bahamas, the English working class was in the midst of a huge revolt, organized through the guilds. King Henry VIII had brought to England Lombard bankers from Italy and merchants from France to undercut wages, lengthen hours, and break the guilds. This alliance between international finance, national capital and military aristocracy was in the process of merging into the imperialist nation-state.

The young workers of London took their revenge upon the merchants. A rumor said the commonality — the vision of communal society that would counter the rich, the merchants, the industrialists, the nobility and the landowners — would arise on May Day. The King and Lords got frightened — householders were armed, a curfew was declared. Two workers didn’t hear about the curfew. They were arrested. The shout went out to mobilize, and 700 workers stormed the jails, throwing bricks, hot water, stones. The prisoners were freed. A French capitalist’s house was trashed.

Then came the repression: Soldiers fired cannons into the city. Three hundred were imprisoned and soldiers patrolled the streets. A proclamation was made that no women were allowed to meet together and all men should “keep their wives in their houses.” The prisoners were brought through the streets tied in ropes. Some were children. Eleven sets of gallows were set up throughout the city. Many were hanged. The authorities showed no mercy and exhibited extreme cruelty.

Thus the dreaded Thanatocracy, the regime of death, was inaugurated in England in answer to proletarian riot at the beginning of capitalism.

The May Day riots were caused by expropriation (people having been uprooted from their lands they had used for centuries in common), and by exploitation (people had no jobs, as the monarchy imported capital). Working class women — organizers and healers who posed an alternative to patriarchal capitalism — were burned at the stake as witches. Enclosure, conquest, famine, war and plague ravaged the people who, in losing their commons, also lost a place to put the traditional emblem of the Commons —their Maypole.

Suddenly, the Maypole became a symbol of rebellion. In 1550, Parliament ordered the destruction of Maypoles (just as, during the Vietnam war, the U.S.-backed junta in Saigon banned the making of all red cloth, for people were sewing it into the blue, yellow and red flags of the National Liberation Front).

While heretical liberation-theologists of the day were burned at the stake, the Bible’s last book, Revelation, became an anti-authoritarian manual inspiring those who would turn the Puritans’ world upside down, such as the Family of Love, the Anabaptists, the Diggers, Level­lers, and Ranters. In 1626, Thomas Morton, who had come over on his own — a boat person, an immigrant — went to Merry Mount in Quincy Massa­chusetts and with his Indian friends put up the first Maypole in America, in contempt of the Puritans. The Puritans destroyed it, and in retaliation exiled Morton, plagued the Indians, and hanged gay people and Quakers.

In Great Britain, the proletarian insurgency flared in fits and starts throughout the empire. Oliver Cromwell’s Puritan army blazed into Ireland in 1649, slaughtered 3,500 defenders and local citizenry of the town of Drogheda, and confiscated almost forty percent of indigenous Catholic lands in Ireland, redistributing them to Protestants born in Britain. The British treatment of the Irish patriots paralleled the monarchy’s regard for the indigenous people of the “New World”.

Although the Puritans were removed from power in England in 1660 with the death of Cromwell two years earlier and the ascendance of Charles II to the throne, the Puritans in the Americas continued their war against the Pequot Indians. In Britain May Day was abolished altogether, as part of the attempt to defeat the growing proletarian insurgency.

In the Americas, rebellion was brewing among the colonists. Charles II put down Bacon’s Rebellion with great bloodshed in Virginia, during which both sides used, abused, and murdered Indians to reinforce their power. The king’s emissaries began the conquest of a new string of colonies in the South.

A century-and-a-half after Morton planted the first Maypole in the British colonies, another great “troublemaker,” the Manchester proletarian Ann Lee, arrived in the Americas (1774) and founded the communal living, gender-separated Shakers who praised God in ecstatic dance and, in rejecting marriage and refusing to procreate, drove the Puritans and other religious zealots up the wall.

*   *   *

The story of the Maypole as a symbol of revolt continued. It crossed cultures and continued through the ages. In the late 1800s, the Sioux began the Ghost Dance in a circle, with a large pine tree in the center, which was covered with strips of cloth of various colors, eagle feathers, stuffed birds, claws, and horns, all offerings to the Great Spirit. They didn’t call it a Maypole, but they danced, just as the English proletarians danced, just as the Shakers’ danced, for the unity of all Indians, the return of the dead, and the expulsion of the invaders. It might as well have been a Mayday!

Wovoka, a Nevada Paiute, started it. Expropriated, he cut his hair. To buy watermelon he rode boxcars to work in the Oregon hop fields for small wages, exploited. The Puget Sound Indians had a new religion — they stopped drinking alcohol, became entranced, and danced for five days, jerking twitching, calling for their land back. Wovoka took this back to Nevada: “All Indians must dance, everywhere, keep on dancing.” Soon they were. Porcupine took the dance across the Rockies to the Sioux. Red Cloud and Sitting Bull advanced the left foot following with the right, hardly lifting their feet from the ground. The Federal Agents banned the Ghost Dance. They claimed it was a cause of the last Sioux outbreak, just as the Puritans had claimed the Maypole dancers had caused the May Day proletarian riots, just as the Shakers were dancing people into communality and out of Puritanism.

All this, while the American working class was engaging in pitched battles in its fight for the 8-hour day.

On December 29, 1890 the U.S. Government (with Hotchkiss guns throwing 2 pound explosive shells, each containing 30 one-half-inch lead balls, at the rate of 50 per minute) massacred more than 300 men, women and children at Wounded Knee. These same weapons were also turned against striking industrial workers and their families. As in the Waco holocaust a century later, or the government’s bombing of MOVE in Philadelphia, the State disclaimed responsibility. The Bureau of Ethnology sent out James Mooney to investigate. Amid Janet Reno-like crocodile tears, he wrote: “The Indians were responsible for the engagement.” Nothing has changed.

In 1970, the town of Plymouth, Massachusetts held, as it does each year, a Thanksgiving Ceremony given by the townspeople. There are many speeches for the crowds who attend. That year — the year of Nixon’s secret invasion of Cambodia; the year four students were massacred at Kent State and 13 wounded for opposing the war, and two more shot at Jackson State; the year they tried to electrocute Black Panthers Bobby Seale and Erica Huggins — the Massachusetts Department of Commerce asked the Wampanoag Indians to select a speaker to mark the 350th anniversary of the Pilgrims’ arrival, and the first Thanksgiving.

Wamsutta “Frank” James, a leader of the Wampanoags from Massachusetts, was selected. But before he was allowed to speak he was directed to show a copy of his speech to the “citizens” in charge of the ceremony. When they saw what he had written, they would not allow him to read it. First came the genocide. Then came the suppression of all discussion about it, even a century later.

Here is a portion of James’ speech — one of the most famous “undelivered” speeches in American history:

It is with mixed emotion that I stand here to share my thoughts. This is a time of celebration for you — celebrating an anniversary of a beginning for the white man in America. A time of looking back, of reflection. It is with a heavy heart that I look back upon what has happened to my people. …

Massasoit, the great Sachem of the Wampanoag … and his people, welcomed and befriended the settlers of the Plymouth Plantation. Perhaps he did this because his tribe had been depleted by an epidemic. Or his knowledge of the harsh oncoming winter was the reason for his peaceful acceptance of these acts. This action by Massasoit was perhaps our biggest mistake. We, the Wampanoag, welcomed you the white man, with open arms, little knowing that it was the beginning of the end; that before 50 years were to pass, the Wampanoag would no longer be a free people. …

History wants us to believe that the Indian was a savage, illiterate, uncivilized animal. A history that was written by an organized disciplined people, to expose us as an unorganized and undisciplined entity. Two distinctly different cultures met. One thought they must control life; the other believed life was to be enjoyed, because nature decreed it. …

Our spirit refuses to die. Yesterday we walked the woodland paths and shady trails. Today we must walk the macadam highways and roads. We are uniting. We’re standing not not in our wigwams but in your concrete tent. We stand tall and proud, and before too many moons pass we’ll right the wrongs we have allowed to happen to us.

We forfeited our country. Our lands have fallen into the hands of the aggressor. We have allowed the white man to keep us on our knees. What has happened cannot be changed, but today we must work towards a more humane America, a more Indian America, where men and nature once again are important; where the Indian values of honor, truth and brotherhood prevail.

You the white man are celebrating an anniversary. We the Wampanoags will help you celebrate in the concept of a beginning. It was the beginning of a new life for the Pilgrims. Now 350 years later it is a beginning of a new determination for the original American: the American Indian.

For the indigenous people of the Americas, Thanksgiving is “the National Day of Mourning.”


What does it mean to find “thanks” in the genocide of the Indians that this “holyday” commemorates? As we sit with our families on Thanksgiving, taking the opportunity to free ourselves temporarily from work or off the streets and be in a warm place with people we love, we realize that none of the things we have to be thankful for have anything at all to do with the Pilgrims or the official (sanitized) version of American history, and everything to do with the alternative, anarcho-communist lives the Indian peoples led before they were massacred by the colonists in the name of Christianity, privatization of property and the lust for gold and slave labor.

I write as an American. But I am an American in revolt. I am revolted by the holiday known as Thanksgiving.

I have been accused of wanting to go backwards in time, of being against progress. To those charges, I plead guilty. I want to go back in time to when people lived communally, before the colonists’ Christian god was brought to these shores to sanctify their terrorism, their slavery, their hatred of children, their capitalism, their oppression of women, their holocausts. But that is impossible. So I look forward to the utter destruction of the apparatus of death known as Amerika — not the people, not the beautiful land, but the machinery of empire, the State, capitalism, religious bigotry that in many ways dominates everyday life, greed, and the lies that enable it to continue, sucking us into being complicit with this awful history … as it is repeated today.

I look forward to a future where I will have children with America, and … they will be the new Indians. 













Today is the day all turkeys go to heaven
45 million throats slit –
America, unite!

Today is the day: 12 million native people
wiped out by Christian colonists …. let us pray

Today is the day we remember 6 million Jews
exterminated in gas chambers
And 60 million slaves wrenched from Mother Africa’s bosom
thousands of Palestinians
Holocaust remembrance day.

Today is the day, can I bear it?
Families, friends and comrades erase the nightmare pain
fool themselves into thinking taking part is harmless
this national day of gluttony;
We are Americans today.

Today is the day
All turkeys go to heaven
America sinks its fangs
sucks the blood of history:
Amerika today.

Thanksgiving – a personal remembrance

Every year I repost “Why I Hate Thanksgiving”, or as my friend Howard calls it, “ThanksKilling”. I love the idea of friends and family gathering, and I remember in my youth heading with my mother, father, two younger brothers, and Granny and Grandpa out to Grandpa’s sister Evelyn’s and her husband Joe’s apartment in Queens.

The kids were usually sent to the bedroom to watch TV. As we got older, though, I remember lying on the bed with my cousin watching TV. My brothers and other cousins were in the room too, and so was another of Evelyn and Joe’s granddaughters. Their mother panicked, wanted to prevent any hanky-panky, ordered us to keep the door open and shortly to come in for dessert. Ah, fond memories, Thanksgiving dinner, uniting the family. That was the last time we were invited to that apartment.

We’d also sometimes head on Thanksgiving to dad’s sister, Dora, and Uncle Nat’s in the Bronx where we’d be regaled by stories. Dad’s brothers Dave and Harry, and Dora’s son Sammy (who was the same age as my dad) and his wife Lilian, told stories about growing up in the Depression. Dad had as a youth been sent to the orphanage in Pleasantville. It turned out that dad loved it there!. The stories! Dave was a bookie, and their brother Harry and his wife Bertha counterfeited stamps). Dora and Dave had a war going between them, and it wasn’t until my brother Howie’s bar-mitzvah that they could actually sit at the same table and let bygones be bygones. They also talked about their missing sister Mary, whom dad worshipped and who’d run away (I was later told) to be with Trotsky in Mexico in the late 1930s, and was never heard from again. I always wondered why dad hated Trotsky so much! Fascinated as I was in the details of my parents early lives, I loved Thanksgivings, the turkey, the yams, the stuffing, the cranberry sauce, the gluttonous celebration of …. of family.

And yet in the Thanksgiving plays every year in public school growing up I’d always wanted to be an Indian. I loved what little I learned about their lifestyle and communality. Being a smart kid, I’d put two and two together and guessed at what happened to them. “In 1492, the Taino Indians discovered Columbus on their beach,” I announced in class one day. “The question is: Who discovered whom?” My 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Elfenbein, was none-too-happy despite pride in my using “whom” correctly, and I wondered why everyone else except my best friends Lloyd, Melvin and Louis — all Projects kids — wanted to be pilgrims.

As the decades passed, I’d become angrier and angrier at what turned out to be the lies and oppressions we were celebrating. Instead of being joyful, I would go into fits of crying on Thanksgiving when i thought of the horrors that the European colonists committed. I felt complicit, same as I’d feel if the whole country celebrated the gassing of Jews in Nazi Germany. I began refusing to celebrate the holiday, even though so many people said, just as they do now, “I don’t celebrate it for the genocide; I celebrate it because I’m off from work and get to hang out with family.” I understood that desire, but I couldn’t bring myself to join them.

I felt like such a kill-joy. Everyone is out enjoying themselves, eating, and I wanted to smash it all.

Yes, we distributed hard-to-come-by turkeys to hundreds of desperately poor farmworkers on Long Island as part of our organizing effort with the Eastern Farmworkers Organizing Committee. Still, the thought: “How would there ever be a revolution if working class and poor folks can’t identify with the indigenous people who lived here centuries ago?” We all needed to reject the many forms cooptation takes. But I also knew that people were hungry, as outcasts they wanted to be accepted into an American history I was rejecting. I was torn.

And then I and others in the Red Balloon Collective were dragged into alliance with animal rights groups; the connections for the Collectivistas began to snap into place. The animal rights folks we knew had no critique of American capitalism; the radical politicos had no feeling for the lives of other species. It was the younger vegetarian folks in Red Balloon at the time that made the connections for the rest of us, as did a glorious speech by people’s attorney William Kunstler, who unexpectedly pulled it all together.

I suppose that this year, 2022, Thanksgiving means something more for many people, given the Covid-19 pandemic that is ravaging our communities for the third time, and the nuclear holocaust we are facing due to the U.S. government’s facedown with Russia over the war in Ukraine, and the possible collapse of life-supporting ecosystems on this planet. So I am reluctant to say things that might ruin the little joy that’s still existent as the planet gasps and sputters through the universe. But why do we have to use this holiday to appreciate each other atop the oppression and murders of the original people living here? Is that a history I want to be part of? No. Nevertheless, I hope people do reflect on not only what we are blessed with today, but at what cost it has come and how we all continue to be complicit with it.

      • Mitchel Cohen, 2020-22

2017 – I posted this a year ago — and what an eventful year it was, both politically as well as personally. I’m re-posting this even though the heroic occupation at Standing Rock has come to an end. This Thanksgiving, a number of Occupyers are facing absurd prison sentences, and the pipeline people were protesting is already leaking as feared. – Mitchel, November 18, 2017



Thanksgiving 2016 – The long genocide of descendants of the original inhabitants of the corner of the planet we today call the United States of America proceeds unabated. And so, therefore, continues the resistance.

At Standing Rock in spirit. Yoko Ono and John Lennon join Native people at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, 1973.

At Standing Rock in spirit. Yoko Ono and John Lennon join Native people at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, 1973.

The fight to preserve the earth’s water and allow it to run naturally through the veins of the planet is an extension of the resistance of the colonial period of U.S. history. The earth-destroyers today use pipelines, hydro-fracking and genetic engineering (and now apparently water cannons and experimental sonic weapons) where they once used the Gatling gun. In some places (like Israel’s control of Palestinian’s water supply) they use both.

The remaining Standing Rock Sioux Indians have united over 100 tribes from across the U.S. and thousands of allies and have been gathering in Cannon Ball North Dakota over these last months to protect their drinking water and historic burial grounds from the ravages of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPl), being built by the private corporation Energy Transfer Partners for $3.8 billion. The pipeline is slated to transport fracked oil from the Bakken shale fields in North Dakota to a transfer point in Illinois, dipping underneath the Missouri River less than a mile upstream from the Standing Rock Sioux’s drinking water supply as well as through the Tribe’s sacred and historical lands, according to tribe Chairman Dave Archambault II. If the Protectors don’t succeed in blocking its construc­tion, the pipeline will become a climate disaster. Tribal leaders are fight­ing in court to stop it, but the company’s CEO, Kelcy Warren, declared, “There’s not another way. We’re building at that location.”


Energy Transfer Partners
8111 Westchester Drive
Dallas, TX 75225
Office: 214-981-0700 Fax: 214-981-0703
Executive Vice President Lee.Hanse@energytransfer.com
Vice President Glenn.Emery@energytransfer.com

The pipeline was initially supposed to go through the City of Bis­marck, but that was rejected due to opposition there. The planned route was then shifted south into Indian territory despite the fact that it now will go through territory ceded to the Sioux in The Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851.

That 1851 Treaty was signed in the course of the U.S. government’s colonial activities, but it was soon deemed to have ceded too much ground. The gov­ern­ment wanted to run a rail line through the territory and so replaced the 1851 treaty by a second one in 1868 following the Civil War, which limited the Sioux to territory now within South Dakota (the Dakota Territory was divided into two states, North and South, in the 1880s). Some tribes agreed to accept the new treaty, but others whose traditional hunting grounds were more to the north opposed it. The gov­ern­ment proceeded to try to cram this new “treaty” down the throats of the Indigenous who had rejected it.

The new treaty did include the Black Hills, long revered by many tribes in the Dakotas. But soon, prospectors discovered gold in the hills, and the U.S. government felt obliged to undermine that treaty as well. The pattern of lies, conquest, land-grabbing and genocide continued.

Dakota Access’ claim is another in the series of fracked oil and gas pipelines that in today’s world represent the ongoing corporate attempts to conquer the Native people and steal their resources backed by the U.S. military and state governments.

Early Monday morning November 21st a few hours before dawn, in one of those unheralded and yet auspicious moments that will be recorded by future historians – if there is to be any future, let alone one worth living in – private “security” officers and police hired with public funds from North Dakota’s much ballyhooed state bank (the only bank in the U.S. owned publicly by the State, which shows that the demand for state-owned banks alone is not sufficient for ensuring funding for progressive projects) turned their high-power water hoses on those gathered to protect the water, in freezing temperatures. At a press conference held by the Morton County Sheriff’s Department on Monday, November 21, a reporter asked if the use of water hoses was necessary to keep officers safe. Morton County Police Chief Jason Ziegler responded by saying, “It was effective wasn’t it?”

Police also fired concussion grenades, gas, experimental sound weapons, and so-called “rubber bullets” – the same terrifying technologies used by the British army against the anti-colonial resistance in Ireland throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Rubber bul­lets impact as though being hit by a bowling ball (made from the same very hard type of synthetic rubber). Over 300 protectors of water were severely wounded.

Many were rendered unconscious and bleeding after being shot in the head with rubber bullets Monday morning. Hundreds were treated for injuries, tear-gas exposure, and hypothermia. Jade Kalikolehuaokakalani Wool had two grenades blow up near her head, knocking her down, burning her face and sending shrapnel into it, and causing her to be hospitalized. Crystal Wilson was shot with a water cannon, tear-gassed and shot with a munition. David Demo was filming police when, without warning, they shot him with a water cannon and then in the hand with a munition. He was hospitalized with broken bones and was told he would need reconstructive surgery. Gary Dullknife III saw a Water Protector knocked to the ground by a water cannon. As police sprayed her on the ground, he tried to move her away. He was shot in the chest, stomach and leg by impact munitions. Mariah Marie Bruce was peacefully protesting when police sprayed her with water cannons. She was then hit in the genitals with a grenade, and was hospitalized. Frank Finan was taking pictures when he was shot in the abdomen and knocked to the ground by a rubber bullet. Israel Hoagland–Lynn tried to help two people who had been shot with water cannons and rubber bullets and was shot in the back of his head by an impact munition. He lost consciousness, was hospitalized, and needed 17 staples for a head wound. Noah Michael Treanor, while praying, was shot by the water hoses or cannon. Once on the ground, he was shot in the head by an impact munition. Bleeding badly, he was hospitalized.

Both the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe sent medical first aid responders to Standing Rock. Along with tribal physicians, nurses, paramedics and in­teg­rative healers working in collaboration with local emergency response teams, they triaged and treated the injuries. They report that three elders were struck, and one went into cardiac arrest. A team of earth protectors managed to revive him, and got his heart beating again; he remains in critical condition along with 26 others taken to the hospital.

21-year-old Sophia Wilansky of the Bronx was distributing drinking water when the Morton County Sheriff’s Department targeted her and threw a grenade, which hit her and shredded her arm. She was airlifted to the Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis a few hundred miles away, where doctors are bit-by-bit trying to rebuild a somewhat functioning arm and hand. (The first surgery took a vein from her leg which they have implanted in her arm to take the place of the missing arteries. She will need multiple surgeries to try to gain some functional use of the arm and hand.)

There are no words to describe the pain of watching my daughter cry and say she was sorry for the pain she caused me and my wife,”

her father, attorney Wayne Wilansky, said.

I died a thousand deaths today and will continue to do so for quite some time. I am left without the right words to describe the anguish of watching her look at her now alien arm and hand.”

The Morton County Sheriff’s Department denies it was using con­cus­sion grenades and is falsely claiming that Sophia was injured by a propane explosive device thrown by the protectors. Wayne Wilansky responds:

[The Sheriff’s statements] are ridiculous. Apparently, they’ve changed their story three times since the incident occurred. My daughter is very clear about the fact that she was being shot at the time. She’s got bullet wounds on her body. And she was backing away at the time, and she was trying to reach for a shield so that the bullets wouldn’t hit her at the time that the concussion grenade hit her in the arm and exploded. Witnesses that I’ve spoken to said that the police officers – it takes seven seconds for these concussion grenades to go off. And Instead of throwing them on the ground, they pulled the plug, held them for five seconds and threw them directly at her. So, I’d say that the comments from the Mor­ton County Sheriff’s Department are utterly absurd and ridiculous and not worthy of a shred of belief.”

Wilansky says that the grenade pieces that have been removed from her arm in surgery will be saved for legal proceedings. Nermeen Shaikh of Democracy Now! asked Wayne Wilansky what he was demanding (November 23, 2016). Wilansky said:

President Obama has to step in there and stop this. They’re drilling now even though they don’t have a permit. The Army Corps of Engin­eers has asked them to stop. The Army Corps of Engineers has said that they were not going to issue a permit until after they did further environmental studies and spoke with the tribe, and yet they go ahead and set all the drills in place, and they continue. They’re probably drilling under the river right now, as we speak. And it’s a very, very dangerous situation there.

And that’s just thing Number One. Number Two is they have to demilitarize the police there. There’s no reason that the police should be intentionally trying to kill people, maim people. And this has to stop.”

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both propound the earth-destroying technology of hydro-fracking. Examining what evil those hirelings of capital have per­petrated in order to advance their master’s profits acquired by fracking the earth and constructing a pipeline to transport their ill-gotten oil reveals the sordid history of plunder and resistance that defines and defies Thanksgiving, every Thanksgiving. President Barack Obama could have (and still could) pre­vented or at least delayed such tragedy with a few words and a signature on a simple Executive Order. But he refuses to do so.

In fact, writes in Counterpunch, most politicians have remained silent or neutral on the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) who has claimed to be Cherokee, said she opposes the pipeline when questioned by a supporter, but has avoided making any public comments on the issue. Hillary Clinton issued a neutral, meaningless statement after protesters sat in her campaign headquarters demanding action. Since her defeat to Donald Trump, she has refrained from devoting any effort to addressing the Dakota Access Pipeline. Democratic Party leaders in the Senate, including Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, have ignored the issue.

This is likely because the Dakota Access Pipeline is being funded by some of the most prolific donors to the Democratic Party. Sunoco Logistics Partners is set to acquire Energy Transfer Partners, the company constructing the pipeline, while Sunoco will oversee its operation. The owners of the company primarily consist of Wall Street firms, including Goldman Sachs.

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer has been one of the top recipients of campaign donations from Wall Street, and he has encouraged Wall Street firms to spread their donations to other Democrats. After the 2008 economic recession, Schumer received 15 percent of Wall Street donations to the Senate in 2009, nearly twice as much as any other Senator. “Wall Street welcomes expected Chuck Schumer promotion,” read a CNN headline from 2015 immediately following Reid’s announced retirement.

Phillips 66, who have financed 25% of the Dakota Access Pipeline project, is primarily owned by billionaire Warren Buffett’s holding company. Buffett actively campaigned for Hillary Clinton this past presidential election, and has made large donations to Clinton, Obama, and other Democrats over the past several years.

In December 2015, congressional leaders rescinded a 40-year-ban on oil exports, increasing the potential profits the Dakota Access Pipeline could yield its investors if government officials don’t intervene. Based on their slow reaction so far, and the Democratic Party establishment progressively favoring its corporate and wealthy donors, that window of opportunity for the Obama Administration and top Democrats to step in before Trump enters the White House is rapidly closing.

For those in power morality is an expedient turned inside out and readily sacrificed at the altar of corporate profit. Standing Rock serves as a reminder of how important it is to resist those puppets in government, as well as those who are pulling their strings.

Phillip Two Trees Freeman writes:

I am Lakota Oglala Brule Sioux of the Rosebud tribe. This isn’t about native Americans, it’s about big banks helping big oil and gas continue to frack, inject toxic fluids into the earth’s aquifers. This endeavor by big oil and banks are multi-faceted. Make as much money as possible no matter the damage and gain water rights. How much control over the people would they have if they get this done?

I will wager that if I kept you from drinking for two days, by the dawn of the third all will do whatever is told them to quench their thirst. Water is life. It is the great mystery. We all breathed our mother’s water for months. We are born of her water. We are 2% saline water, just as the sea is, but we cannot drink sea water. Water has the highest surface tension of any liquid, is the most powerful solvent known, can exist in three states at sea level, water expands as its temperature is lowered. And it holds memory, our intentions. Its used as a sacrament the world over. It is the single most important resource on the planet. We talk about terraforming Mars when we can’t be good stewards of our own home. Soon all will learn they cannot eat money.”

See amazing photos from Monday HERE.



Cuba-Trained Doctors Head to Standing Rock

A delegation of doctors trained at the Latin American School of Medicine in Cuba announced they will head to Standing Rock to “serve in solidarity.”

In a late Thursday Facebook post, a group of U.S.-based medical professionals trained at Cuba’s famous Latin American School of Medicine, or ELAM, announced they will head to Standing Rock “to humbly serve in solidarity with the Sacred Water Protectors on the front lines of the current human rights and ecological crisis occurring right now in North Dakota.”
Dr. Revery P. Barnes, a graduate of ELAM, said in a post on Facebook, “We answer the call to serve in alignment with the mission and core principles of our alma mater and dedication to our commitment to serve underserved communities in our HOME country.” The delegation will work in collaboration with the Standing Rock Medic and Healer Council.
“While Cuba instilled in us an unwavering commitment to internationalism, with the acceptance of a full scholarship to medical school at ELAM, we made the moral commitment to respond to the needs of our most vulnerable communities here at home in the U.S.,” the statement continued. [December 2, 2016]



Reporting on Democracy Now! on Nov. 22, 2016, Juan Gonzalez interviewed Angela Bibens, a lawyer with the Red Owl Legal Collective:

ANGELA BIBENS: Right now we’ve seen people who have been maced. They deployed 20 mace canisters in a small area in less than five minutes, to the point where people have lost bowel function. At least one seizure has been witnessed at the front lines by our legal observation team. There have been people vomiting from the exposure to the mace. The water cannon has been mixed with the mace, and so even our legal observers have been exposed and are trying to deal with that while they’re doing up their notes. And canisters were shot at the medic area at the front line. There is at least one woman who has a broken kneecap. At least one elder went into cardiac arrest and was revived through CPR at the front line by medics. (I’ve edited the interview below …. – MC)

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Sunday’s attack comes as water protectors face an increasingly militarized crackdown against the movement to stop the Dakota Access pipeline over concerns the construction will destroy sacred tribal burial sites and that a pipeline spill could contaminate the Missouri River. The state of North Dakota has approved $10 million to police the ongoing resistance. North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple has activated the National Guard. Over 400 people have been arrested during the ongoing protests, and many report being subjected to strip searches while in the Morton County jail in North Dakota.

The water protectors have also faced attacks and surveillance from private security companies working for the Dakota Access pipeline com­pany. On September 3rd, unlicensed private security guards unleashed attack dogs on Native Americans trying to protect a tribal burial site from destruction. The private security firm TigerSwan security is in charge of coordinating intelligence for the Dakota Access pipeline company. TigerSwan has links to the now-defunct mercenary firm Blackwater.

Another security company at Standing Rock is G4S, formerly Wack­en­hut. “The dogs are from Frost canine, owner, Bob Frost of Louisville Ohio. The female dog handler in the videos is Ashley Nicole Welch of Burton Ohio, a friend of Bob Frost,” writes a former deputy sheriff in Florida. “There are more than two dozen banks assisting Energy Transfer Partners in financing this insanity.”

Juan Gonzalez is joined by Intercept reporter Jeremy Scahill, who has spent years reporting on private security contractors, including TigerSwan.

Welcome back, Jeremy. What about the situation in North Dakota?

JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, first of all, let’s remember that we’re speaking a week when there’s the big American holiday, Thanksgiving, and I always think of the slaughter of the indigenous people in this country around this time of year and people like Leonard Peltier, the political prisoner. Unfortunately, it seems like yet another president is going to leave office without pardoning Leonard Peltier. But to watch what we’re seeing of the protectors on this indigenous land facing environmental-destroying companies really brings home the kind of utter hypocrisy of the narrative about the United States of America. Also, if you look at the way these indigenous people and their supporters are being treated versus the Bundy ranchers who didn’t occupy their native land; they went and they took over federal land with weapons and ended up getting acquitted, including of the charges that they were very clearly guilty of, which is all these weapons possession charges – it makes you wonder, if this is the state of affairs under President Obama, who actually has visited Native reservations and Native territories, what’s going to happen under Trump?

And this firm, TigerSwan, was founded by a Delta Force operative named James Reese and has done voluminous amounts of covert and overt work for the U.S. military in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere around the world. You have this convergence of all that has been so wrong in the post-9/11 world, with these big environment-destroying companies, the stripping even further of indigenous rights, private security forces, the brutality against pro­test­ers, the paramilitarization of law enforcement. And now our incoming president – I still feel strange saying that – Donald Trump also has business connections to the pipeline project. Is he going to divest? This is going to go from the level of Obama just being really bad on these policies to Trump actively trying to make it worse for the environment.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, in a recent interview, the head of the company behind the Dakota Access pipeline, Kelcy Warren of Energy Transfer Partners, said he’s 100 percent confident that Trump will support the completion of the Dakota Access pipeline. Kelcy Warren has donated more than $100,000 to Trump’s campaign, while Trump himself has between $500,000 and a million dollars invested in Energy Transfer Partners, according to his own disclosures.

JEREMY SCAHILL: When Cheney was coming in, we were talking about Enron and the people that they put on their commission about energy. You know, Trump’s choice of who he’s going to put in as energy secretary or secretary of the interior – they’re even talking about potentially Sarah Palin being the interior secretary. Was Ronald McDonald not available? It’s really sick, some of the people. You know, putting Mike Huckabee in charge of health and human services, a guy who said that abortion is worse than the Holo­caust? It really feels like we’re watching a not-so-slowly moving train-wreck in this country right now.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Or even floating the idea that Joe Arpaio, who’s just been voted out as Maricopa County sheriff, would become head of homeland security. Although at 82 years old, I doubt that he wants to come to Washington.

JEREMY SCAHILL: Yeah. It would be an amusing, you know, [Arpaio’s] Senate confirmation hearing. What’s more likely, but in the same category, is Sheriff David Clarke of Milwaukee County, who is African-American himself but has called Black Lives Matter subhuman. He’s said there is no such thing as police brutality, and led the chants of “Blue lives matter” at the Republican National Convention. Clarke is a regular on Bill O’Reilly’s show and others on Fox News. …

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: You reached out to the Morton County Sheriff’s Office to try to get some information on the private security firms. What happened?

JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, the Morton County sheriffs released documents, internal documents, about their investigation into the dog handlers. And what they inadvertently revealed was that this company, TigerSwan, run by these Delta Force guys, was actually in charge of coordinating the intelligence operations against the protesters.

One word of advice to all the protesters there: Do not believe that your cellphones or your computers are clean and uncompromised. I guarantee you that they’re using the entire suite of surveillance devices. I know that people have been complaining that their cellphones have been down, their internet has been down. That can be caused by surveillance weaponry targeting their devices. It could be because there are so many people using them. But my guess would be that they are using people’s devices, meaning law enforcement and private security, as geo-tracking devices And people should be very aware that the full CIA/NSA-devel­oped suite of tools that now have made it into the hands of local law enforcement in this country are most certainly trained on those activists and their supporters.

Meanwhile, scores of U.S. military veterans have announced plans to travel to North Dakota to join the protests.


– Bombard TD Bank and CitiGroup with letters and complaints.– Both have holdings in Energy Transfer Partners

– Standing Rock medics say that the Water Protectors are in critical need of the following items:

      • Milk of Magnesia
      • Wool socks
      • Wool blankets
      • Space blankets
      • Hand warmers
      • Trauma kits (portable)
      • Suturing kits
Supplies can be shipped to:

Standing Rock Medic and Healer Council
PO Box 1251
Bismark ND, 58502

If you are shipping via UPS or Fed Ex, please use this address:

220 E. Rosser Ave. 1251
Bismark, ND, 58502

1. Call North Dakota governor Jack Dalrymple at 701-328-8118. Leave a message

2. Call North Dakota National Guard: 701-333-2000 #3.

3. Call the Army Corps of Engineers and demand that they reverse the permit: (202) 761-5903

4. Call the White House at (202) 456-1111 or (202) 456-1414. Tell Presi­dent Obama to rescind the Army Corps of Engineers’ Permit for the Dakota Access Pipeline.

5. Contribute to the Sacred Stone Camp Legal Defense Fund: https://fundrazr.com/d19fAf

6. Call the executives of the companies that are building the pipeline:

a. Lee Hanse Executive Vice President Energy Transfer Partners, 800 E Sonterra Blvd #400 San Antonio, Texas 78258 Telephone: (210) 403-6455 Lee.Hanse@energytransfer.com

b. Glenn Emery Vice President Energy Transfer Partners Telephone: (210) 403-6762 Glenn.Emery@energytransfer.com

c. Michael (Cliff) Waters Lead Analyst Energy Transfer Partners, L.P. 1300 Main St. Houston, Texas 77002 Telephone: (713) 989-2404 Michael.Waters@energytransfer.com





(202) 456-1111 or (202) 456-1414

• White House Situation Room, 202-456-9431
• North Dakota Governor’s Office: 701-328-2200
• Morton County Sheriff’s Office: 701-667-3330
• Morton County State’s Attorney’s Office: 701-667-3330
• Army Corps of Engineers-Bismarck 701-255-0015
Close your accounts, encourage your friends/family to do the same at banks investing in Energy Transfer Partners:
      • ABN Amro Capital
      • Bank of America
      • Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotia Bank)
      • Bank of Tokyo – Mitsubishi UFJ
      • Barclays
      • BayernLB
      • BNP Paribas
      • Citibank (CitiGroup)
      • Citizens Bank
      • Compass Bank
      • Credit Agricole
      • Credit Suisse
      • Deutsche Bank
      • DNB Capital ASA
      • Goldman Sachs
      • HSBC Bank
      • JP Morgan
      • ICBC London
      • Mizuho Bank
      • PNC Bank
      • SMBC Nikko Securities
      • Societe Generale
      • SunTrust
      • TD Securities
      • UBS Origin Bank (formerly Community Trust)
      • U.S. Bank
      • Wells Fargo
Please find names, e-mails, and phones of CEOS of these banks at this address:

Special thanks to Chris Kinder, Barbara Deutsch, Isis Feral and Malika Moro for research and commentary.


From Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz:

Thanksgiving has never been about honoring Native Americans. It’s been about the origin story of the United States, the beginning of geno­cide, dispossession and constant warfare from 1607 in Jamestown until the present. It’s a colonial system that was set up.

There’s a sort of annual calendar for this origin story, beginning with Columbus, October 12. Why celebrate Columbus? It was the onset of colonialism, the slave trade and dispossession of the Native people of the Americas. So, that is celebrated with a federal holiday. That’s followed by Thanksgiving, which is a completely made-up story to say the Native people welcomed these people who were going to devastate their civili­zations, which is simply a lie. And then you go to Presidents’ Days, the Founding Fathers, in February, and celebrate these slaveowners, Indian killers. George Washington headed the Virginia militia for the very pur­pose of killing Native people on the periphery of the Virginia colony. And then we have the big day, the fireworks, July 4th, independence, which is probably the most tragic event in world history, because it gave the world a genocidal regime under the guise of democracy.

I’m a historian, so that’s the historical context that I think we have to see Thanksgiving in, that it is a part of that mythology that attempts to cover up the real history of the United States.

When Thanksgiving was introduced as a holiday by Abraham Lin­coln during the Civil War, there was no mention of pilgrims and Native people or food or pumpkins or anything like that. It was simply a day for families to be together and mourn their dead and be grateful for the liv­ing. And I think that’s an appropriate holiday, how people should enjoy it. They should take Native Americans and Puritans out of the picture for it to be a legitimate holiday of feast and sharing with family and friends.

I send greetings to the people at Plymouth. They have, for many years – I think it’s almost 40 years now – stood up and testified to the lie of Plymouth Rock, the Mayflower, the pilgrims. And this is very hard for people to give up. This is nationalism. Am­ericanism is white supremacy and represents negative things. There’s almost no way to reconcile it. It simply has to be deconstructed and faced up to; otherwise, there will be no social change that’s meaningful for anyone.


* * * * *


Read also Glen Ford, The End of American Thanksgivings: A Cause for Universal Rejoicing

and Robert Jensen,



7 Responses

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  • jess says:

    Pass it around everywhere yesterday, thanks!

  • Meg says:

    Brilliant, Mitchel. Thanks (!) for this. I love you!

  • ellen says:


    Some thoughts on yr essay:

    1. I get that same question – “don’t you celebrate anything?”

    As if having a conscience makes me a joyless person.

    As if the only things we can celebrate are those either involving death or consumerism.

    So many other things to celebrate: good friends, good politics, good loving, beautiful sunset, the fact that I can leave my house with no fear of getting killed by a drone (unlike many peoples on the earth), the fact that (so far) I have enough to eat – and I can celebrate them any day of the year.

    I don’t need a state-sanctioned day to celebrate them.

    2. I also include in my anti-thanksgiving comments:

    factory-farming and global climate change –

    the number one source worldwide of methane is animal agriculture (100 million tons a year).

    and methane is responsible for nearly as much global warming as all other non-CO2 greenhouse gases put together. Methane is 21 times more powerful a greenhouse gas than CO2.


    Yet today how many “environmentalists” are chowing down on a factory-farmed turkey?

    3. While I was reading yr essay I had BAI on, and heard to my chagrin, the announcer issue forth:”Happy thanksgiving”. ugh.

    I know Michael Haskins supports neither climate change nor genocide- but it illustrates an unthinking which we need to correct among each other and ourselves.

    We should never talk about this despicable ‘holiday’ without talking about genocide and animal cruelty and the environment.

    4. And what about those pictures of smiling turkeys (which look more like peacocks), and smiling pilgrims?!

    Next year (I was too late with the thought this year), I’m going to print out pictures of mutilated birds and of Native people and paste them over those myth-making idiotic smiling delusions.

    thanks Mitchel!

  • PAUL GILMAN says:

    You left out the part where the Bush ancestors left the May Flower carrying giant axes and waring Jason Masks. Not finding enough people to kill they broke into the graves of freshly felled by disease Pequots and ate their remains. From there the Bush morphed into psychanthropes.


  • The plastic turkey again? Neighbor, the Aughties are long past, try to keep up. See here and retire that exploded meme: http://www.snopes.com/politics/bush/turkey.asp

  • ChaCha Ala Mode says:

    Wow my head is spinning! I know much of this, because I find traditional American education wanting. I researched this many years ago. I too do not celebrate most holidays, I celebrate life. Life outside of the bubble we call patriotism. I celebrate the fact that I have found meaning in my life and my relationships and I do not need to purchase things to sanctify those relationships. Thank you for putting into print some of the feelings I have and making a valiant point of shattering the myths that we as a nation hold so dear. Thank you for having the courage to speak up and to resist the fairy tales we are fed on a regular basis. And again, thank you for putting it in print.

  • […] What’s your take on Thanksgiving, American disinfonauts? Do you love all that overeating and American Football on TV, not to mention time spent with family? Mitchel Cohen (writer, activist, poet, former chair WBAI-FM Local Board (2008-2012), Brooklyn Greens, Red Balloon Collective, rabble rouser) isn’t buying into the wholesome American holiday and he explains exactly why not at his blog: […]

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