Arts & Entertainment

‘The New World’ at Bucks County Playhouse is a Cornucopia of Musical Delight

(Photo: Joan Marcus)

By John Dwyer

“The New World” was originally titled “Thanks,” and judging from the standing ovation, the audience was certainly grateful for this brilliant new show at Bucks County Playhouse (BCP). In fact, the show and performers deserved every clap and every minute that the excited crowd stood and applauded.

“The New World” has been in development for three years at BCP. It is the product of The Oscar Hammerstein Festival’s musical development program. Last year, it generated “Cake Off,” but it had already been seen at the Signature Theater in New York City in a less expanded 90-minute format in 2015. With “The New World,” we have BCP more fully involved at the inception of the show. The semantics of development perhaps, not so oddly, mirror the language of childbirth and child rearing. Ideas are conceived and nurtured, there is development, and with the birth of a musical and its continued growth through workshops, those committed to its welfare certainly take a kind of ownership of it that seems like a parent.

The show was conceptualized by the composer Gary Adler (Altar Boyz). It is a mashup of our contemporary values and perspectives versus our Puritanical roots. It is like the elementary school play of the First Thanksgiving if it were written by Tina Fey. But, in this case, it was instead written by the equally talented and funny L.F. Turner and Regina DeCicco. It reminds one of those classic stage and movie shows, with guys who just wanted a girl to fall in love with and girls who wanted the same. The music has moments of being smooth and jazzy and moments of being all out, Broadway show stopping. Adler, along with lyricist Phoebe Kreutz, wanted to write songs with a tip of the hat to classic shows, and they have succeeded!

Justin Guarini and Jillian Gottlieb. (Photo: Joan Marcus)

Speaking of the Great White Way, that was precisely what the Pilgrims felt about their traditions and customs versus native Americans. When Miles Standish (Eddie Cooper) arrives with other pilgrims to Massachusetts, he is surprised to see anyone there. And, as the natives are not God-fearing European Christians, he knows they must be savages. The smart script has the Indians in contemporary garb with contemporary manners, with enough of a tinge of native American custom to keep it real.

As an audience member, you can’t help but identify more with the woman in the designer pant suit, who is the Indian leader

Santuit meets Miles Standish’s daughter, the beautiful, resourceful, sweet and perky, Susanna Standish (Jillian Gottlieb). Without giving away more of the plot, suffice it to say their meeting complicates things. Other characters in the story are Miles Standish’s sister, Joan (Jennifer Perry), who is Puritan by choice, but not by nature, and Santuit’s brother, Tago (Clyde Alves). Tago is an outlier, a bit of a rebel. Not a normal Indian male as he prefers to be a gatherer and not a hunter, and bucks gender roles. Last, but not least, there is Carl the Turkey (Taylor Manard). He is Santuit’s best friend, and due to their special relationship and Santuit’s native abilities, they are able to talk to each other.

What ensues delights and inspires. Kudos to the creative team, BCP and the musical development group, and to Stafford Arima for directing this talented ensemble of actors. The pivotal role of Santuit was to be played by Julius Thomas III. But due to an injury, he was unable to do the role. Justin Guarini stepped in with only a few days to rehearse. Guarini is a BCP board member and starred in their critically acclaimed production of “Company.” His rendition of the song “Lone Wolf,” is seductively smooth. It should be mentioned that casting is racially blind, which is pertinent to the show’s American Melting Pot point of view. If Thomas comes back to the role, the mosaic changes once again.

Ann Harada, Clyde and cast. (Photo: Joan Marcus)

Jillian Gottlieb as Susanna Standish sings what I consider to be the show-stopper of the evening, “Other People.” She is someone to watch, with a great career ahead of her.

Everyone loves the quintessential tough-talking, wise-cracking woman that was often seen in the classic stage and movie comedies. As a reference, think Joan Blondell or Rosalind Russell in the movies, Dorothy Loudon on stage, or Jennifer Perry in “The Lost World” as Susanna’s Aunt Joan. She is delightful and brash and can belt out a song like nobody’s business.

This ensemble is so strong. Ann Harada as Chief Hyannis owns the stage, as she struts it, extolling how they do things in Massachusetts, in the song actually titled “Massachusetts.” This cocky tune includes a great dance break, choreographed by the talented choreographer Lorin Latarro and featuring Clyde Alves, a.k.a. Tago, doing a tap solo. Eddie Cooper as Miles Standish preaches the gospel of bonnets, buckles and Bibles, as he sings the rousing “Shine Your Buckles, Boys” to the pilgrim congregation. Tyler Maynard is as adorably playful as a young Bill Irwin, as the charismatic Carl the Turkey.

The director Stafford Arima’s excellent staging, which includes a well thought out use of the turntable, was supplemented by the equally excellent set designs by Anna Louizos, costumes by Jen Caprio, lighting by Kirk Bookman, sound by Joshua D. Reid, and wigs and makeup by J. Jared Janas. The man who keeps the beat is music director Paul Masse, with an assist by the man who orchestrated the beat, Danny Troob.

This show is timely and smart, and has great potential to make it to New York and beyond. Of course, musicals are autonomous, with a life of their own. They will be judged on many levels: Is it engaging? Does it have something to say? Is it smart? Is it witty? “The New World” is top-notch musical theater, exhilarating from beginning to end.

“The New World” runs through Dec. 2, and tickets can be purchased online.

About the author

Charlie Sahner

“Once you can accept the universe as matter expanding into nothing that is something, wearing stripes with plaid comes easy." - Einstein


  • Does it have something to say ? YES IT DOES …even in 2017 in New Hope where acceptance and respect for others has been the norm a racist play is celebrated and defended.

  • And still you can’t understand the truth over fiction …genocide of natives is not subject for a fairytale comedy .
    You think that calling names will silence me just. This play is racist and the racist are here defending it .

  • I am not historically naive, but not an expert either. However after reading many of these postings there is one thing I am really, really sure of: These are people I would not like to share a Thanksgiving dinner with.

  • Classic “progressive” strategy to stifle free expression by shouting down free speech. In this case it’s Donna copying and pasting 20 or so essays that all say the same thing that she hopes to to shield ideas that differ from hers. In colleges it’s the same thing with shouting down conservative speakers. They (and Donna) are intolerant racists

      • And still you can’t understand the truth over fiction …genocide of natives is not subject for a fairytale comedy .
        You think that calling names will silence me just. This play is racist and the racist are here defending it .

      • Our modern definition of Thanksgiving revolves around eating turkey, but in past centuries it was more of an occasion for religious observance. The storied 1621 Plymouth festivities live on in popular memory, but the pilgrims themselves would have likely considered their sober 1623 day of prayer the first true “Thanksgiving,” according to the blog the History of Massachusetts. Others pinpoint 1637 as the true origin of Thanksgiving, owing to the fact Massachusetts colony governor John Winthrop declared a day of thanks-giving to celebrate colonial soldiers who had just slaughtered 700 Pequot men, women, and children in what is now Mystic, Connecticut

    • Progressive strategy which includes teaching the truth not the lies told in this racist play . Free speech is my right as well and I choose to speak the truth unlike this racist play .
      I gave numerous posting of true information on thanksgiving to show what natives faced was not comedy material .
      Genocide is not funny .

  • The real Thanksgiving Day Massacre

    The Pequots today own the Foxwood Casino and Hotel [7], in Ledyard, Connecticut, with gross gaming revenues of over $9 billion in 2000. This is truly a (very belated) miracle, since the real first Pilgrim Thanksgiving was intended as the Pequot’s epitaph. Sixteen years after the problematical Plymouth feast, the English tried mightily to erase the Pequots from the face of the Earth, and thanked God for the blessing.

    Having subdued, intimidated or made mercenaries of most of the tribes of Massachusetts, the English turned their growing force southward, toward the rich Connecticut valley, the Pequot’s sphere of influence. At the point where the Mystic River meets the sea, the combined force of English and allied Indians bypassed the Pequot fort to attack and set ablaze a town full of women, children and old people.

    William Bradford, the former Governor of Plymouth and one of the chroniclers of the 1621 feast, was also on hand for the great massacre of 1637:

    “Those that escaped the fire were slain with the sword; some hewed to pieces, others run through with their rapiers, so that they were quickly dispatched and very few escaped. It was conceived they thus destroyed about 400 at this time. It was a fearful sight to see them thus frying in the fire…horrible was the stink and scent thereof, but the victory seemed a sweet sacrifice, and they gave the prayers thereof to God, who had wrought so wonderfully for them, thus to enclose their enemies in their hands, and give them so speedy a victory over so proud and insulting an enemy.”

    The rest of the white folks thought so, too. “This day forth shall be a day of celebration and thanksgiving for subduing the Pequots,” read Governor John Winthrop’s proclamation. The authentic Thanksgiving Day was born.

    Most historians believe about 700 Pequots were slaughtered at Mystic. Many prisoners were executed, and surviving women and children sold into slavery in the West Indies. Pequot prisoners that escaped execution were parceled out to Indian tribes allied with the English. The Pequot were thought to have been extinguished as a people. According to IndyMedia [8], “The Pequot tribe numbered 8,000 when the Pilgrims arrived, but disease had brought their numbers down to 1,500 by 1637. The Pequot ‘War’ killed all but a handful of remaining members of the tribe.”

    But there were still too many Indians around to suit the whites of New England, who bided their time while their own numbers increased to critical, murderous mass.

    Guest’s head on a pole

    By the 1670s the colonists, with 8,000 men under arms, felt strong enough to demand that the Pilgrims’ former dinner guests the Wampanoags disarm and submit to the authority of the Crown. After a series of settler provocations in 1675, the Wampanoag struck back, under the leadership of Chief Metacomet, son of Massasoit, called King Philip by the English. Metacomet/Philip, whose wife and son were captured and sold into West Indian slavery, wiped out 13 settlements and killed 600 adult white men before the tide of battle turned. A1996 issue [9] of the Revolutionary Worker provides an excellent narrative.

    In their victory, the settlers launched an all-out genocide against the remaining Native people. The Massachusetts government offered 20 shillings bounty for every Indian scalp, and 40 shillings for every prisoner who could be sold into slavery. Soldiers were allowed to enslave any Indian woman or child under 14 they could capture. The “Praying Indians” who had converted to Christianity and fought on the side of the European troops were accused of shooting into the treetops during battles with “hostiles.” They were enslaved or killed. Other “peaceful” Indians of Dartmouth and Dover were invited to negotiate or seek refuge at trading posts – and were sold onto slave ships.

    It is not known how many Indians were sold into slavery, but in this campaign,500 enslaved Indians were shipped from Plymouth alone. Of the 12,000 Indians in the surrounding tribes, probably about half died from battle, massacre and starvation.

    After King Philip’s War, there were almost no Indians left free in the northern British colonies. A colonist wrote from Manhattan’s New York colony: “There is now but few Indians upon the island and those few no ways hurtful. It is to be admired how strangely they have decreased by the hand of God, since the English first settled in these parts.” In Massachusetts, the colonists declared a “day of public thanksgiving” in 1676, saying, “there now scarce remains a name or family of them [the Indians] but are either slain, captivated or fled.”

    Fifty-five years after the original Thanksgiving Day, the Puritans had destroyed the generous Wampanoag and all other neighboring tribes. The Wampanoag chief King Philip was beheaded. His head was stuck on a pole in Plymouth, where the skull still hung on display 24 years later.

    This is not thought to be a fit Thanksgiving tale for the children of today, but it’s the real story, well-known to the settler children of New England at the time – the white kids who saw the Wampanoag head on the pole year after year and knew for certain that God loved them best of all, and that every atrocity they might ever commit against a heathen, non-white was blessed

  • “Stools are stumps made good seats for the Pilgrim population. The Indians sat on the ground, gnawing on dear bones, tearing fowl apart, and lapping up the very ancient and rancid butter with grunts of appreciation. It is a pretty picture to think of.”
    xxxxxxxxxx— from Old Glory, by Samuel Eliot Morison

    A harvest feast did take place in Plymouth in 1621, probably in mid-October and the Indians who attended were not even invited. It later became known as “Thanksgiving” but the Pilgrims never called it that. The pilgrim crop had failed miserably that year, but the agricultural expertise of the Pilgrims’ Indian friend Squanto had produced 20 acres of corn without which the Pilgrims would have surely perished. The Pilgrims invited Massasoit, and it was he who then invited 90 or more of his Indian brothers and sisters to the affair to the chagrin of the indignant Europeans. No turkey, cranberry sauce or pumpkin pie was served, no prayers were offered and the Indians were not invited back.

    The Pilgrims did, however, consume a good deal of home brew. In fact, each Pilgrim drank at least a half gallon of ale a day which they preferred even to water.

    Contrary to popular mythology, the Pilgrims were no friends to the majority of local Indians. Just days before this alleged Thanksgiving communion, a company of Pilgrims led by Myles Standish actively sought the head of a local chief.

    They deliberately caused a rivalry between two friendly Indians, putting one against the other in an attempt to obtain “better intelligence and make them both more diligent.” An 11-foot-high wall was erected around the entire settlement for the purpose of keeping the Indians out.

    Standish eventually got his bloody prize. He beheaded an Indian brave named Wituwamat and brought the head to Plymouth where it was displayed on a wooden spike for many years. Just a few years later, in about 1636, a force of colonists trapped some 700 Pequot Indian men, women, and children near the mouth of the Mystic River. English Captain John Mason attacked the Indian camp with “fire, sword, blunderbuss, and tomahawk.” Only a handful escaped and few prisoners were taken, to the great delight of the Pilgrims:

    To see them frying in the fire, and the streams of their blood quenching the same, and the stench was horrible; but the victory seemed a sweet sacrifice, and they gave praise thereof to God. This event marked what was most likely the first actual Thanksgiving and the Pilgrims were pleased with the result. Any goodwill that may have existed was certainly now gone and by 1675 Massachusetts and the surrounding colonies were in a full-scale war with the great Indian chief of the Wampanoags, Metacomet.

  • will continue to provide proof of the thanksgiving lie whether or not some here think I have the right to. This play perpetuates the thanksgiving giving lie by making the pilgrim girl the savior of the savages by stopping her father from committing the murders of innocent natives. The very concept of a comedy about a genocide is bizarre especially that the message conveyed here is that in the end there was harmony.

  • I will continue to provide proof of the thanksgiving lie whether or not some here think I have the right to. This play perpetuates the thanksgiving giving lie , makes the pilgrim girl the savior of the savages by stoping her father from committing the murders of innocent natives. The very concept of a comedy about a genocide is bizarre especially that the message conveyed here is that in the end there was harmony.

  • The First Thanksgiving
    It Didn’t Happen That Way

    Let me begin by stating that thousands of years before the ‘official’ Thanksgiving Day was proclaimed by Governor Winthrop of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1637, North American Indigenous people across the continent had celebrated seasons of Thanksgiving. ‘Thanksgiving’ is a very ancient concept to American Indian nations. The big problem with the American Thanksgiving holiday is its false association with American Indian people; the infamous ‘Indians and pilgrims’ myth. It is good to celebrate Thanksgiving, to be thankful for your blessings. It is not good to distort history, to falsely portray the origin of this holiday and lie about the truth of its actual inception. Here are some accurate historical facts about the true origin of this American holiday that may interest you.

    ‘Thanksgiving’ did not begin as a peaceful, friendly relationship between the pilgrims and the Wampanoag, Pequot and Narragansett people. In fact, in October of 1621 (one year before Tisquantum a.k.a. ‘Squanto’ died) when the ‘pilgrim’ (they were actually puritans) survivors of their first winter in Turtle Island sat down to share the first unofficial ‘Thanksgiving’ meal, the Indians who were there were not invited. There was no turkey, squash, cranberry sauce or pumpkin pie. A few days before this alleged feast took place, a company of ‘pilgrims’ led by Miles Standish actively sought the head of a local Indian leader, and an 11 foot high wall was erected around the entire Plymouth settlement for the very purpose of keeping Indians out. Officially, the holiday we know as ‘Thanksgiving’ actually came into existence in the year 1637. Governor Winthrop of the Massachusetts Bay Colony proclaimed this first official day of Thanksgiving and feasting to celebrate the return of the colony’s men who had arrived safely from what is now Mystic, Connecticut. They had gone there to participate in the massacre of over 700 Pequot men, women and children, and Mr. Winthrop decided to dedicate an official day of ‘thanksgiving’ complete with a feast to ‘give thanks’ for their great ‘victory’. This thanksgiving celebration became a custom that was observed every year. In 1777, all 13 of the first United States colonies held Thanksgiving celebrations – a continuation of that first ‘celebration’ in 1637. In 1789, President George Washington declared November 26th a ‘National Day of Thanksgiving’. And on October 3rd, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln finally made it official with a ‘Thanksgiving Proclamation’, declaring Thanksgiving a national holiday. Thus, you can see that the American Thanksgiving holiday we know today is indelibly tied to that ‘first thanksgiving’ in 1637, which celebrated the massacre of hundreds of Native people.

    As hard as it may be to conceive, this is the actual origin of our current Thanksgiving Day holiday. Many American Indian people these days do not observe this holiday, for obvious reasons, and instead see it as a ‘day of mourning.’ I see nothing wrong with gathering with loved ones to give thanks to our Creator for our blessings and sharing a meal. After all, Native people have done so for thousands of years. I do, however, hope that Americans as a whole will one day acknowledge the true origin of this holiday, and remember the pain, loss, and agony of the Indigenous people who suffered at the hands of the so-called ‘pilgrims’. It is my hope that children’s plays about ‘the first Thanksgiving’, complete with Indians and pilgrims chumming at the dinner table, will someday be a thing of the past. Why perpetuate a lie? Let us face the truths of the past, and give thanks that we are learning to love one another for the rich human diversity we share.

    – John Two-Hawks

  • Unthanksgiving Day (or Un-Thanksgiving Day), also known as The Indigenous Peoples Sunrise Ceremony, is an event held on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay to honor the indigenous peoples of the Americas and promote their rights.[1] It coincides with a similar protest, the National Day of Mourning, held in Massachusetts. Held annually since 1975, the Alcatraz ceremony commemorates the protest event of 1969, where the Alcatraz-Red Power Movement (ARPM) occupied the island.[1] Currently the annual ceremony is organized by the International Indian Treaty Council and American Indian Contemporary Arts.[2]

    The event is designed to commemorate the survival of Native American peoples following the settlement of Europeans in the Western Hemisphere, which led to enormous economic and cultural losses among the indigenous from disease, warfare and social disruption. Organizers want it to serve in contrast to the traditional American Thanksgiving story in which the Pilgrims supposedly shared a meal with Native Americans.[3]

  • Donna please ease up on the copying and pasting! 5 long copied posts in less than an hour…and they all say the same thing. I think you’ve made your point. In the future you should go for quality not quantity. Or maybe come up with an original thought and express it with your own writing

  • The International Indian Treaty Council, the advocacy group that oversees the alternative Thanksgiving on Alcatraz, has changed its name to the Indigenous People’s Thanksgiving, which it views as a more appropriate characterization of the event. “We have lots to be thankful for,” Andrea Carmen, the council’s executive director, was quoted last year. “Our ancestors kept our spiritual traditions, our culture, our history, alive. We are thankful in spite of what happened to us.” Many participants also mark Thanksgiving Day in the familiar way, she adds. Ms. Carmen sees no contradiction. “We’re an inter-cultural people,” she says. It is natural that Native Americans would want to mark the day with both of the traditions they value. The gathering concludes by 9 a.m.—in time for participants to get home and put a turkey in the oven. The rites and rituals of our national Thanksgiving have evolved over four centuries and that process surely will continue. The essence of the holiday, however, is unlikely to change. Families and friends will continue to gather, the turkey will take pride of place on the dinner table, and the generous spirit of the American people will ensure that the poor, sick, imprisoned and lonely will be included in the celebration. Just about every American celebrates Thanksgiving; for new citizens, it is a rite of passage. When we gather around the holiday table this Thursday, we will be taking part in our country’s oldest tradition—giving thanks. God knows Donna Downer Is too prejudiced and devoid of tolerance to understand these concepts

  • Some of the comments on here are really shameful. I know that people lose a sense of empathy online, and trolls love comments, but it’s really sad to see for a place like New Hope (that can be very inclusive). I lived in Lambertville and found so many good people in the area. Why don’t we listen when a group of Native Americans say a play about them, without any Native American involvement, is racist? Yes, freedom of speech means freedom to write racist plays, but it also means freedom to protest it and ask producers to stop spouting racist garbage. Why does it scare you so much to listen to a Native American coalition’s point of view on this play? How fragile are you that you can’t listen to that? I understand that ignorance/naivety often comes from isolation and alienation. It’s really frustrating– I’m sure you all have potential to change and grow. I wish the nasty commentators would spend some time with indigenous people. I am not indigenous but Donna is, and other friends of mine in this coalition are, which is how I came to learn about this play and support their protest against it. Have you read their statement? Have you looked into the history of Thanksgiving beyond the Turkey feast? Really? Somebody made a comment about humans and art. Good art does not need to always be light. Good artist and comedians, and art poking fun at culture, know to “punch up” not down. Ridicule those in power, ridicule one’s own culture. The Producers was made by a Jewish writer about Jewish oppression. Jews can make fun of Jewish issues. Native Americans could conceivably make a comedy about Thanksgiving and their own genocide. But to do a musical re-conception comedy about Thanksgiving and settler colonialism without ANY INDIGENOUS INVOLVEMENT is reproducing colonial mentality and silencing indigenous voices. It’s also just stupid. No one thought to include an indigenous writer, producer, director, actor??? Stop this racist play. Respect Native History. Learn more about this play and the Coalition against it here:

    • What is shameful is that you are a racist. Only Jewish writers are allowed to write about the Holocaust, and only Native Americans can write about Thanksgiving? Shame on you, you narrow-minded snowflake!

  • “Sometimes we’re told to go back where we came from, which is pretty ironic,” said Mahtowin Munro, co-leader of United American Indians of New England, which organises the annual protest march.

    Ms Munro said her objection to Thanksgiving was a “cultural whitewashing” that allows most Americans to ignore what happened to the native population.

    She said most people are taught a “fantasy history” that ignored or downplayed the widespread slaughter of her people and the theft of their traditional lands, the damming of their rivers, and the deliberate slaughter of bison.

    “As indigenous people, we’ve been taught by our elders to give thanks every day,” she said. “We are a people who have survived genocide. People able to gather with our families is very important to us.”

  • The Real Story of the First Thanksgiving

    From Manataka American Indian Council
    by Susan Bates

    Most of us associate the holiday with happy Pilgrims and Indians sitting down to a big feast. And that did happen – once.

    The story began in 1614 when a band of English explorers sailed home to England with a ship full of Patuxet Indians bound for slavery. They left behind smallpox which virtually wiped out those who had escaped. By the time the Pilgrims arrived in Massachusetts Bay they found only one living Patuxet Indian, a man named Squanto who had survived slavery in England and knew their language. He taught them to grow corn and to fish, and negotiated a peace treaty between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Nation. At the end of their first year, the Pilgrims held a great feast honoring Squanto and the Wampanoags.

    But as word spread in England about the paradise to be found in the new world, religious zealots called Puritans began arriving by the boat load. Finding no fences around the land, they considered it to be in the public domain. Joined by other British settlers, they seized land, capturing strong young Natives for slaves and killing the rest. But the Pequot Nation had not agreed to the peace treaty Squanto had negotiated and they fought back. The Pequot War was one of the bloodiest Indian wars ever fought.

    In 1637 near present day Groton, Connecticut, over 700 men, women and children of the Pequot Tribe had gathered for their annual Green Corn Festival which is our Thanksgiving celebration. In the predawn hours the sleeping Indians were surrounded by English and Dutch mercenaries who ordered them to come outside. Those who came out were shot or clubbed to death while the terrified women and children who huddled inside the longhouse were burned alive. The next day the governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony declared “A Day Of Thanksgiving” because 700 unarmed men, women and children had been murdered.

    Cheered by their “victory”, the brave colonists and their Indian allies attacked village after village. Women and children over 14 were sold into slavery while the rest were murdered. Boats loaded with a many as 500 slaves regularly left the ports of New England. Bounties were paid for Indian scalps to encourage as many deaths as possible.

    Following an especially successful raid against the Pequot in what is now Stamford, Connecticut, the churches announced a second day of “thanksgiving” to celebrate victory over the heathen savages. During the feasting, the hacked off heads of Natives were kicked through the streets like soccer balls. Even the friendly Wampanoag did not escape the madness. Their chief was beheaded, and his head impaled on a pole in Plymouth, Massachusetts — where it remained on display for 24 years.

    The killings became more and more frenzied, with days of thanksgiving feasts being held after each successful massacre. George Washington finally suggested that only one day of Thanksgiving per year be set aside instead of celebrating each and every massacre. Later Abraham Lincoln decreed Thanksgiving Day to be a legal national holiday during the Civil War — on the same day he ordered troops to march against the starving Sioux in Minnesota.

    This story doesn’t have quite the same fuzzy feelings associated with it as the one where the Indians and Pilgrims are all sitting down together at the big feast. But we need to learn our true history so it won’t ever be repeated. Next Thanksgiving, when you gather with your loved ones to Thank God for all your blessings, think about those people who only wanted to live their lives and raise their families. They, also took time out to say “thank you” to Creator for all their blessings.

  • “Learning” about Thanksgiving in our school system for some of us may be the first time we are even told about indigenous nations and people, but it is a false history. Learning about the realities of genocide, invasions, slavery, and war, we come to understand that Thanksgiving is above all, a colonial holiday that literally celebrates military victories and outright slaughter of Native Americans; made into law and custom by the government. It is not the feel good celebration of settler and indigenous relations we are taught to believe.

    During a time when Native warriors and their accomplices are risking their lives fighting on the front lines while poverty, mass incarceration, pollution, continued land theft, destructive resource extraction, and abysmal conditions are the norm in many Native communities, let us all remember and reaffirm our commitment to the struggle against colonialism and the settler-State. With this in mind, we are reprinting a list of ongoing sites of Native resistance to resource extraction and beyond

  • New Hope has always been a place where diversity has been welcomed and all people feel respected . I see in these times with such a hateful person in the White House that hate has also crept in to New Hope and the comments posted here are the proof . I understand it’s very hard to learn the truth about the fairytale thanksgiving that you celebrate and it’s easier to attack the person who is not afraid to speak up just like the man in the Whitehouse attacking people standing up for the truth .
    I see a few commenters names could be from groups who were targeted by men with torches in Charlottesville , I stand against that display of towards all people.
    You may think your funny and may be proud that you spoke down to me in defense of this play which promotes a lie and pokes fun at natives . Natives which stand up for our rights have long faced people like you but in spite of you we still exist , we survived and will not be silenced . We aren’t your good little quiet Indians any more.
    Shame on you for bringing hate to New Hope , this play is a stain on New Hope and a failure. This will not go unnoticed in the entertainment industry.

  • We’ve been sold a myth about the first Thanksgiving for generations. In reality, white settlers rewarded indigenous people’s kindness by enslaving Native populations and carrying out widespread genocide.

    “It’s not a day of thanks. It’s a day of mourning,” indigenous activist Isabella Zizi told Splinter.

    So instead of celebrating the false narrative about Pilgrims and industrious Native Americans sitting down around a table to break bread this Thanksgiving, remember the true story, and teach your children accordingly

  • Congratulations Donna on your ability to copy and paste
    I hope you as as a white person and all your white “progressive” friends feel good about yourselves. I’m sure you all congratulated yourselves at Coles Hill (if you were really there). All the Indian people I know, yes they prefer that term, I went to an histocally Indian college, think you and your ilk are silly people.

    • You leave Donna Downer alone!
      Most “natives” are not like Moonanum James and Mahtowin Munro, who are professional protesters. Most of the simple and gentle natives need elitist white “progressives” like us to protest against white people on their behalf…because they are not enlightened enough to understand their oppression in the modern world. Rudyard was right…it is our “Burden”

  • Thanksgiving: A National Day of Mourning for Indians, 1998

    by Moonanum James and Mahtowin Munro

    Every year since 1970, United American Indians of New England have organized the National Day of Mourning observance in Plymouth at noon on Thanksgiving Day. Every year, hundreds of Native people and our supporters from all four directions join us. Every year, including this year, Native people from throughout the Americas will speak the truth about our history and about current issues and struggles we are involved in.

    Why do hundreds of people stand out in the cold rather than sit home eating turkey and watching football? Do we have something against a harvest festival?

    Of course not. But Thanksgiving in this country — and in particular in Plymouth –is much more than a harvest home festival. It is a celebration of the pilgrim mythology.

    According to this mythology, the pilgrims arrived, the Native people fed them and welcomed them, the Indians promptly faded into the background, and everyone lived happily ever after.

    The truth is a sharp contrast to that mythology.

    The pilgrims are glorified and mythologized because the circumstances of the first English-speaking colony in Jamestown were frankly too ugly (for example, they turned to cannibalism to survive) to hold up as an effective national myth. The pilgrims did not find an empty land any more than Columbus “discovered” anything. Every inch of this land is Indian land. The pilgrims (who did not even call themselves pilgrims) did not come here seeking religious freedom; they already had that in Holland. They came here as part of a commercial venture. They introduced sexism, racism, anti-lesbian and gay bigotry, jails, and the class system to these shores. One of the very first things they did when they arrived on Cape Cod — before they even made it to Plymouth — was to rob Wampanoag graves at Corn Hill and steal as much of the Indians’ winter provisions of corn and beans as they were able to carry. They were no better than any other group of Europeans when it came to their treatment of the Indigenous peoples here. And no, they did not even land at that sacred shrine called Plymouth Rock, a monument to racism and oppression which we are proud to say we buried in 1995.

    The first official “Day of Thanksgiving” was proclaimed in 1637 by Governor Winthrop. He did so to celebrate the safe return of men from the Massachusetts Bay Colony who had gone to Mystic, Connecticut to participate in the massacre of over 700 Pequot women, children, and men.

    About the only true thing in the whole mythology is that these pitiful European strangers would not have survived their first several years in “New England” were it not for the aid of Wampanoag people. What Native people got in return for this help was genocide, theft of our lands, and never-ending repression. We are treated either as quaint relics from the past, or are, to most people, virtually invisible.

    When we dare to stand up for our rights, we are considered unreasonable. When we speak the truth about the history of the European invasion, we are often told to “go back where we came from.” Our roots are right here. They do not extend across any ocean.

    National Day of Mourning began in 1970 when a Wampanoag man, Wamsutta Frank James, was asked to speak at a state dinner celebrating the 350th anniversary of the pilgrim landing. He refused to speak false words in praise of the white man for bringing civilization to us poor heathens. Native people from throughout the Americas came to Plymouth, where they mourned their forebears who had been sold into slavery, burned alive, massacred, cheated, and mistreated since the arrival of the Pilgrims in 1620.

  • National Day of Mourning
    Since 1970, Native Americans and our supporters have gathered at noon on Cole’s Hill in Plymouth to commemorate a National Day of Mourning on the US thanksgiving holiday. Many Native Americans do not celebrate the arrival of the Pilgrims and other European settlers. Thanksgiving day is a reminder of the genocide of millions of Native people, the theft of Native lands, and the relentless assault on Native culture. Participants in National Day of Mourning honor Native ancestors and the struggles of Native peoples to survive today. It is a day of remembrance and spiritual connection as well as a protest of the racism and oppression which Native Americans continue to experience.

  • Must be wonderful living in an entitled world where you can make fun of the horrors that others suffered with out a care for how they might feel .
    What’s next a comedy about the holocaust and how Jews and Nazis then lived in harmony .

  • Lighten up Francis! I mean, Donna Downer. It must suck, living in your joyless world.
    Has it ever occurred to you that humans, in their capacity to create art, create these parables to help bring a kind of balance to the human condition. A balance to the dark part that does include murder, enslavement, rape since time immemorial, not just Europeans but all humankind, even your gentle “natives”. That’s why we have art, religion, goodness. Sorry for your focus only on the dark side.

  • You are delusional if you think that the murder of natives by pilgrims is a lovely story of everyone getting along with each other. This play makes a joke of a horrific time in history when white Europeans came to native lands to kidnap , rape , enslave and murder natives . Maybe next time they can create a romantic comedy about the holocaust and how the Jewish people and the Nazis became great friends . The whole play made fun of the horrors that natives faced at the hands of European immigrants.

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