On this Thanksgiving, Struggle for a New World wishes to extend our solidarity to the Indigenous peoples of the U.S. and their ongoing struggle against settler-colonialism. We recognize that one of the foundational acts for the global hegemony of capitalism was the invasion of this continent and the genocide carried out against its diverse inhabitants. We recognize that this invasion and genocide is still ongoing. We recognize that the U.S. is stolen land and that its decolonization is a central task in the struggle against the imperialist U.S. and the struggle for socialism. We recognize that the descendants of the original settler population and those who have been integrated into the nation they built still have a settler-colonial relationship to the colonized peoples, and that this contradiction does not only implicate the ruling classes, but even the working class of the colonizing nation, who benefit from the ongoing oppression of Native Americans and the theft of their lands. We recognize that this land mass, Turtle Island, is home to countless struggles of Indigenous peoples that cross the borders imposed by capitalism-imperialism. In the final instance, it is these anti-imperialist struggles which will play the decisive role in winning socialism, not the trade unionist bargaining of the settler-colonist working classes, which must be united with the liberation struggles of the colonized. We recognize that victory will only be won by uniting and subordinating the struggle of the settler proletariat with the struggle of the proletariat of the oppressed peoples:
“The English working class will never accomplish anything before it has got rid of Ireland. The lever must be applied in Ireland. That is why the Irish question is so important for the social movement in general.”
In the national mythology of the settler-colonist nation which dominates the United States, Thanksgiving plays a significant role in how they imagine their early settlement on the continent. In the settler-colonial school system children are taught a whitewashed version of history in which friendly Native Americans welcomed the Pilgrims with open arms and taught them how to survive, with this supposed friendship being consummated with a great feast of “thanksgiving.” But the children are not taught what we all know, that from the very start the settlers carried out a campaign of genocide and land theft across the continent, that the hospitality of Squanto was rewarded with rivers of blood and torched villages. They are not taught that the first official day of thanksgiving in Massachusetts was declared in 1637 following the massacre of over 700 Pequot men, women, and children.
What is taught is the Squanto narrative, a narrative that makes the Indigenous sound like a disposable set of characters who exist only to advance the plot of the settler heroes, a plot in which the settlers’ Christian god gave them the Indigenous peoples’ aid in various forms to help them survive during the rough years of early colonization, and then helpfully cleared them away, out of sight, out of mind, to grant the settlers all the lands of all Indigenous peoples, a destiny made manifest.
As Thanksgiving is celebrated this year, most states across the Americas, and in particular the settler-states in North America continue to perpetrate atrocities against Indigenous peoples. Forced sterilizations of indigenous women, a tool of genocide, continue to this day. Indigenous women in Canada who were coerced into the procedure under threats of having their children taken from them are suing the Canadian state, citing cases as recent as 2017. In the United States, the U.S. government prepares to revoke a Mashpee Wampanoag land trust, in the very region that is now central to the Thanksgiving myth. Water Protectors who struggled against the Dakota Access Pipeline are incarcerated, facing decades in prison for defending their lands and cultures. Celebrating Thanksgiving is not celebrating a myth. It is not celebrating a centuries-old past. It is celebrating crimes like this. It is a celebration of settler-colonialism itself as a system.
What do the Indigenous have to be thankful for? That they can, after centuries of genocide bringing them under the domination of Euro-Christian settlers, practice what remains of their own faith without being “corrected” by colonial authorities? That after years of having their languages destroyed by the market and colonial schools, if they still remember some words of their own language, they will not be beaten by nuns for this? That they can walk on their own land without being brutalized or murdered, provided they do not attempt to claim this land, or exercise meaningful political sovereignty on it? With these being the best case scenario for the colonized Indigenous peoples, no wonder that on Thanksgiving 1969, they occupied Alcatraz, the prison island symbolizing the prison the United States is to their peoples, in protest of all that had been stolen from them, not given to them. No wonder that Indigenous people have called for Thanksgiving, like Columbus Day, to be declared a countrywide day of mourning. No wonder that all across the country Indigenous people and progressives from the settler-colonial oppressor nation hold their own events to teach the true history of Thanksgiving. We encourage all comrades to participate in or organize such events.
On this Thanksgiving, let us redouble our efforts to finally bring down settler-colonialism and the U.S. Empire. Let us redouble our efforts to unite in struggle with the Indigenous and struggle in unity with them for their concrete liberation. Let us redouble our efforts to decolonize Turtle Island and build a new world.
WORKERS AND OPPRESSED PEOPLES OF THE WORLD, UNITE!