Video: Day of mourning?

msnbc.com
updated 11/23/2005 1:06:48 PM ET 2005-11-23T18:06:48
TRANSCRIPT

While most Americans prepare to feast on turkey and watch football with family on Thanksgiving Day, Vernon Bellecourt is planning a protest.  Bellecourt is with the American Indian Movement, which regards Thanksgiving Day as a national day of mourning. 

Tucker Carlson spoke to Bellecourt about the nature of his protest Tuesday on the 'Situation.'

To read an excerpt of their conversation, continue to the text below. To watch the video, click on the "Launch" button to the right.

TUCKER CARLSON, HOST, ‘SITUATION’:  I’ve heard people attack Christmas.  I’ve heard people attack Valentine’s Day as a Hallmark holiday.  I’ve never heard anyone attack Thanksgiving.  What’s your problem with...?

VERNON BELLECOURT, ACTIVIST: I don’t know if we’re necessarily attacking Thanksgiving, but we want to point out the real history and origins of Thanksgiving.

And that is, according to William B. Newell, himself a Penobscot Indian and the chair of the anthropology department at the University of Connecticut, retired, of course, in his research, in 1637, the Pequot Indian people were in their long house -- for all purposes, their synagogue, their mosque, their cathedral -- celebrating their green corn dance, which they had done since time immemorial. It was their Thanksgiving. 

The Massachusetts Bay Colony governor ordered the mercenaries and militia to attack the longhouse, thinking they were plotting against them. And more than 700 Pequot men, women, and children were cut down with musket and saber, those that weren’t burned to death. 

The governor declared Thanksgiving, and for the next 100 years, similarly in the colonies, in order to deal with what they characterized as “ye pesky redskins.”

CARLSON: That sounds grotesque and I believe things like that happen in this world.  Certainly, but Thanksgiving started, I think, in 1621. There was, doubtless you know, an Indian there, Squanto, famously, a Patuxet Indian there, who was celebrated by the early colonists, and that’s what people think of when they think of Thanksgiving. 

BELLECOURT: Of course. We realize that, but for documentation, those of you that can go to your browser, “free republic origin of Thanksgiving,” and they’ll have all of the documentation on the origins of Thanksgiving.

Now, we realize that Abraham Lincoln, he eventually declared Thanksgiving, and it’s evolved to become a very warm family event where people come together. And we ask people to look at the table and teach their children the real history, as I describe. 

CARLSON:  But the holiday as it’s practiced now, at least as I grew up, it celebrates Indians, I mean, celebrates specifically this one Indian, Squanto, and the relationship between colonists and the Indians. And the Indians helped colonists, and the colonists would have died without them. 

BELLECOURT: Of course, you see, the first Pilgrims would have perished. I mean, they got off the boat sick, destitute, wrapped in rags. And the Indian people did help them, showed them how to plant crops, how to survive. 

But the point I’m trying to make is that, when one would look at their table today on Thanksgiving, on Thursday, they will see pumpkin, squash, potatoes, yams, turkey. 

Almost all the food stuff on their table [came from the native people]. And of course, they turned on us immediately, and so on Thursday, we’re going to be on Alcatraz Island with 4,000 friends and supporters as a memorial to the fact that since then, about 16 million of our people have been wiped out in America’s holocaust. 

CARLSON:  Well, Mr. Bellecourt, that sounds like an awfully grim way to spend a pretty happy holiday, which I think is basically a pro-Indian advertisement.  I wouldn’t screw it up by holding a protest.  I mean, this makes people like Indians and makes them grateful to Indians. 

BELLECOURT: Well, you see, that’s kind of romantic and it’s really nice, but the fact remains that it’s America’s longest war, and we’re still victimized by it. About $137 billion has disappeared from U.S. Treasury accounts over the past 100 years. 

And so we don’t have much to be thankful today, although many of our people will celebrate Thanksgiving. 

CARLSON: OK. I think many of them will.

BELLECOURT:  But in the meantime, we are going to be memorializing the longest war against the Indian people. 

Watch 'The Situation with Tucker Carlson' each weeknight at 11 p.m. ET

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