Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving Day - counter traditions


At Plymouth yesterday, a varied group of Native Americans gathered for the 41st National Day of Mourning. The Boston Globe has a nice article by Erin Ailworth. Each Thanksgiving Day since 1970, they have been gathering to commemorate the day in a different ceremony. From the perspective of the Wampanoag and other native peoples, the arrival of pilgrims which we celebrate at the Plymouth living museum and with the Thanksgiving holiday, was really the beginning of a catastrophe. The tribal peoples lost their lands and their traditional ways of living as European settlers moved to the Americas in greater numbers.

Not all the people attending the ceremony were Native Americans. Although it was not a large turnout, the article reported on several people who attended to show solidarity or to widen their perspective. But for the native participants, they said it felt empowering.

Other New England fall traditions for this time of year: rescuing sea turtles that have become lost and disoriented as the water cools in the fall. They ride the Gulf Stream up to Cape Cod area for feeding, I suppose. But as the water cools, they can't find their way back into the warm stream to ride back down south to safety. New Englanders make regular sweeps of the beaches and haul the chilled turtles off to the New England Aquarium. The staff there have made a fine science of how to bring the turtles back safely to normal temperatures. The turtles' body temperatures can be as low as the 40's Farenheit when brought in. The normal temperature should be something in the low to mid- 70's according to the Globe article. If the turtles' body temperatures are raised too quickly, they will become ill as dormant pathogens are stirred up. Apparently, they rescued a record 17 turtles the day before Thanksgiving, making a total of 41 since October 20. That's a lot this year! And of that total, 90% have been the rarest kind, Kemp's Ridley. The article by Jeffrey Fish (charming name for somebody writing about Aquarium type matters) reports that they expect to release the turtles next summer, and can hope for 80-90% survival rate after they are released.

* As of Thanksgiving, 2013, I have been contacted by several people who say that the Globe's photograph was taken of a sacred ceremony where people were specifically requested NOT to take photographs.  I have been asked to remove the image from this blog post.  For those curious, it showed a man not so much kindling a fire under the statue of Massasoit, as blessing it with smoke. (Betsy McKenzie)

The image is from the Globe article on the Plymouth Rock protest, the National Day of Mourning. The caption reads, Juan Gonzalez of Boston kindled a fire under the statue of Massasoit in a prayer ritual during the 41st National Day of Mourning in Plymouth yesterday. credit to Yoon S. Byun of the Globe Staff.

1 comment:

Annemarie Tyler said...

Hi there, the picture used for this post was taken during a sacred ceremony where everyone was asked not to take pictures or recording of any kind. I am respectfully requesting that you remove this picture, please. I know it's been up for three years, but I only just found it.