This year marks the 51st anniversary of the National Day of Mourning. It will be observed on Thursday, Nov. 26 to coincide with Thanksgiving, as it does every year. 

According to the United American Indians of New England (UAINE), the National Day of Mourning has been observed since 1970 at Cole’s Hill in Plymouth to honor participants’ Native ancestors and the struggles of Native people.

“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,” according to the UAINE’s website. “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.”

But this year, the National Day of Mourning, just like so many other observances, ceremonies and gatherings, will look a bit different. According to the UAINE’s Facebook page, there will still be a gathering at Coles Hill in Plymouth. However, the gathering will be smaller and COVID-19 prevention protocols – social distancing and mask wearing – will be in effect. 

Additionally, the group plans to livestream the event to provide more people the opportunity to take part virtually. Also, the group plans to have an online broadcast throughout the day of music and messages. Check back with the group’s Facebook page for an updated event schedule.

If you would like to learn more about The Day of Mourning and the Wampanoag Tribe, there are a number of books  and streaming  videos in our collection to check out, including: This land is Their land : the Wampanoag Indians, Plymouth Colony, and the Troubled History of Thanksgiving, Massasoit of the Wampanoags, and King Phillip’s War: The History and Legacy of America’s Forgotten Conflict.

If you’d like to gain some additional historical perspective, consider looking at the following items: two primary sources that describe (from the Pilgrim’s perspective) what happened the first Thanksgiving. Mourt’s Relation: A Journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth, 1622, is available online through the Hathi Trust. Another account can be found in William Bradford’s, On Plymouth Plantation. That volume can be found on the library’s second floor.

For more information about the history of the Wampanoag, visit the website for the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe.