As millions of Americans gather today for the Thanksgiving holiday, the fact that the feast commemorates the disenfranchisement of indigenous people is becoming more and more apparent.
As the country has faced racial reckoning from marginalized communities like African Americans and Latinos, native Americans are fighting to remain a part of the national conversation about ratifying injustices.
Descendants of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, which is at the center of the Thanksgiving legend, are fighting to reclaim what they maintain was stolen land.
According to a CNN report, “the Mashpee Wampanoag have lived in what’s now Massachusetts and eastern Rhode Island for more than 12,000 years.”
The tribe is currently in a battle to maintain a trust that turned 300 acres of land into a reservation.
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The trust status meant the land couldn’t be taken away from the Mashpee Wampanoag without the approval of the federal government. It also gave the tribe sovereignty, allowing it to build housing, a school and a police department on the land, CNN reports.
However, under the administration of President Donald Trump, the Department of the Interior reversed that decision after a lawsuit brought by area residents, saying the land was ineligible for trust status because the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe wasn’t under federal jurisdiction in 1934.
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The U.S. moved to take the land out of trust, endangering the health, housing and safety of the tribe.
A federal judge blocked the decision, but the Interior Department appealed, and that the appeal is still pending.
The Mashpee Wampanoag are not the only tribe fighting for their land in this country. The Wiyot tribe is battling the state of California for protections of the Duluwat Island, where they dwell. The area has been transformed and polluted by shipping businesses.
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In Oklahoma, the Wyandotte Nation got their land back from the United Methodist Church after two centuries.
So, as families and friends gather to celebrate this year — hopefully in smaller groups, as recommended, because of the coronavirus pandemic — it is ever-important that the indigenous souls at the center of Thanksgiving, people who are still fighting for freedom in America, never be forgotten.
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