Category Archives: Posted

What the ‘Irish famine’ genocide teaches us about Palestine

https://mondoweiss.net/2019/01/genocide-teaches-palestine/

Middle East  Avigail Abarbanel on January 15, 2019 20 Comments

James Frecheville in Black 47 plays an Irishman who fought for the British in Afghanistan only to return home and find his family shattered by the coloniser there.

A few evenings ago I watched the 2018 film, Black 47. It tells of the Irish Famine through the story of one traumatized Irish returned soldier. The main character, Martin Feeney (played by the young Australian actor James Frecheville), returns to Ireland from India (another British colony) after fighting for the Empire, only to find the devastation brought on Ireland by the British colonizers, enforced by the very same army he fought for.

This film is painfully well made in every way and is not easy to watch, but watching it honors the memory of the victims and ensures we do not forget crimes against humanity. The film’s main story is fictional and so are the characters. But the context in which the story unfolds, the time and events of the Irish Famine, are devastatingly real.

One of the most important messages from this film is that big historical events that affect a lot of people are not some abstract thing that happens ‘out there’ that has nothing to do with us. Everything that happens to human beings is personal both to victims and perpetrators, albeit in different ways. For those looking at significant historical events from outside or from the distance of time, it can be too easy to perceive them in the abstract. In fact, the way history is written and taught makes it too easy for all of us to view things with detachment. This film warns us against that. It makes history personal.

The victims of the famine were people, human beings like us. We don’t have to know them personally to be able to put ourselves in their shoes. What would it be like to be so poor that you have nothing, to have no shoes, no warm clothes, to not be able to feed yourself and your children, to watch your children die of starvation? How frightening and how desperate would this be? We all know what it feels to be afraid. We all know what desperation feels like, even if we have never experienced the particular conditions the film shows.

What would it be like to be stripped to the bare bones of survival because of the deliberate and calculating actions of someone more powerful than you who views you with contempt because of who you are? What would it be like to be treated like you are piece of garbage, a nothing, by someone who is so much more powerful than you that he can do anything he wants to you? It isn’t that hard to imagine and right now this is life and reality for many people around the world, including the Palestinian people. There are degrees of suffering, yes, but in my profession, we do not compare suffering. Every human being’s suffering matters to them and those around them and it should matter to all of us.

The events between 1845 and 1849 that devastated Ireland are called the ‘Irish Famine’. This is a descriptive title, and yes there was a terrible famine. But such a title makes it sound like this was an unavoidable natural disaster, a force of nature, when it was anything but. The so-called ‘Irish Famine’ was really a genocide committed with intent by the colonising British Empire. It saw millions die of starvation, disease and exposure and millions leave Ireland never to return.

Britain took advantage of a natural disaster that caused a devastating failure of potato crops not only in Ireland but elsewhere in Europe to reduce the population of Ireland and break its resistance to British colonial rule. The potato blight that swept through Ireland left millions starving. The genocide saw the Brits ship food out of Ireland deliberately, while the local people were starving. Starving people were cold-heartedly evicted out of their dwellings into the harsh and cold countryside because they were too poor to pay rent to well-nourished English and English-sponsored landlords who stole and colonized Irish land and lived in comfort and warmth. Millions, entire families, were made homeless for no reason at all and no fault of their own. They were victims of the cruelty of the ruling classes of an Empire that wanted their land. They were thrown out with nothing, starving and barefoot like useless bits of rubbish with nothing to eat, and many died.

Britain felt contempt for the indigenous Irish. It chose not to see them as fellow human beings. Charles Trevelyan, the assistant secretary to the Treasury who was effectively in charge of Famine relief in Ireland said:

‘The judgment of God sent the calamity to teach the Irish a lesson, that calamity must not be too much mitigated . . . the real evil with which we have to contend is not the physical evil of the Famine but the moral evil of the selfish, perverse and turbulent character of the people.’ (From Tim Pat Coogan. *The Famine Plot: England’s Role in Ireland’s Greatest Tragedy*. 2013)

This quote does not need interpretation. It speaks for itself. Dehumanization is a common tactic all colonizers and settler-colonizers have been using throughout human history. All colonizers and genocidal regimes convince themselves (and all the bystanders out there) that they are not committing any crime, that in killing millions of their fellow human beings they are in fact doing something virtuous, essential and even godly. It is necessary to dehumanize victims so the job of harming, killing and displacing them is not only made easier but is in fact possible at all. Most people would not harm one another when they feel empathy and relate to each other’s experience. Colonizers do a good job convincing large sections of their own population and outsiders to turn off the empathy switch. They would not be able to carry out atrocities otherwise.

Britain managed to reduce the indigenous population of Ireland by half, and even after the worst of it was over, the population of Ireland kept declining. Britain did fail in the end. Ireland eventually freed itself from British colonialism in 1937, just under a century after the famine genocide. The entire journey however took hundreds of years of ongoing resistance to horrible cruelty, brutality, injustice, internal divisions fostered by the colonizers, a civil war and an unbelievable amount of suffering of an untold number of people.

Halving the population of a country that you colonize is one effective way to try to prevent resistance. The British ruling classes wanted Ireland not for natural resources but for strategic advantage. But regardless of the reasons that might lead one group of people to invade the land of another, colonizers and settler-colonizers are always abusive and parasitical opportunists. They invade, they take over, they turn people against one another, they suck the land and its population dry, they steal from and discard the host, or at least try to.

We see one such case unfolding in Palestine right in front of our noses and no one is doing anything about it. Most of the world looks on as it always has done. It views what is being done to the Palestinians either with the indifference of detachment, or with contempt toward the victims fueled by the choice to believe the perpetrators’ (predictable) dehumanizing propaganda. The perpetrator, the exclusively Jewish state of Israel created by the Zionist movement – itself a product of the colonialist mindset of 19th Century Europe – is still, incredibly, perceived as legitimate rather than as the crime that it is. It is as if we have learned absolutely nothing from history.

It took this long for such a painful, uncompromising and realistic film to be made about one of the many crimes of British colonialism in Ireland. I wonder when someone will finally make a film like this about the Nakba.

No Right To A Home: Amsterdam’s ADM Squat Evicted Today, Amsterdamse Droogdok Maatschappij

No Right To A Home: Amsterdam’s ADM Squat Evicted Today, Amsterdamse Droogdok Maatschappij

Life in Amsterdam’s biggest squat – in pictures

https://www.theguardian.com/cities/gallery/2018/oct/08/life-amsterdam-biggest-squat-amsterdamse-droogdok-maatschappij-in-pictures
Several children have been born and raised in the community that has grown up around the former shipyard

#Amsterdam: #ADM squat evicted today

Posted on January 7, 2019 by Enough is Enough!  Leave a comment
https://enoughisenough14.org/2019/01/07/amsterdam-adm-squat-evicted-today/
Amsterdam: In the early morning hours cops started with the eviction of the ADM squat today.
Published by Enough is Enough. Written by Riot Turtle.

Note: Enough is Enough is not organizing any of these events, we are publishing this text for people across the US and Europe to be able to see what is going on and for documentation only.

After more than 20 years the ADM squat was evicted today. The home of dozens of people and several initiatives fought for a long time to preserve this unique free space, but the wannabee Green left party that governs Amsterdam did not want to wait for the outcome of another court case that takes place tomorrow.

At 8:50am 6 police vans arrived at the ADM complex in the harbour of Amsterdam. A helicopter was fying over the area to monitor the eviction. Shortly before 11:00 a big crane came to ADM. After the eviction of some of the smaller houses at back of the complex, the crane immediately started to demolish the houses. One of the residents of ADM was beaten by a security guard (pucture 1 below (left) is the woman that was beaten, picture 2 (right) is the security guard that was beating her)

At 12:15 cops started to evict people that were chained with lock-ons. In the video in the tweet below activists are singing �Thank you Femke� (Femke bedankt). Femke Halsema is the mayor of Amsterdam.

Mike Muller@_MikeMuller
Krakers zingen nu: �Femke bedankt!� #ADM
11:24 – 7. Jan. 2019

Weitere Tweets von Mike Muller ansehen
Twitter Ads Info und Datenschutz

The cops arrested at least 11 people who refused to leave ADM today. At 03:00pm the cops evicted the last squatters from the roof of the ADM building. Tonight there will be a noise demo in front of the prison for all people who were arrested today.

With ADM, Amsterdam lost another free space where people lived and worked in a self-organized way. Many squats were evicted in the past decades and there are not many free spaces left in the capital of the Dutch territory. Its a sad day but the struggle continues. Solidarity to all people who resisted the eviction

Here is a short AT5 (mainstream media) documentary about ADM :

The (not yet) Lost Free-state � part #1 ‘The Children of ADM’ SUBS from Suwanne CCtv on Vimeo.

The (not yet) Lost Free-state � part#2 SUBTITLED from Suwanne CCtv on Vimeo.

And 2 independent media ADM newsflash videos:

ADM NewsFlash #1 (January 4th. 2019)

ADM NewsFlash #1 (January 4th. 2019) SUBTITLED from Suwanne CCtv on Vimeo.

ADM NewsFlash #2 (January 6th. 2019)

ADM NewsFlash #2 (January 6th. 2019) SUBTITLED from Suwanne CCtv on Vimeo.


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Amsterdam: ADM eviction

– January 7th, 2019

The ADM eviction has started on monday morning, 7 january 2019. Time line, pictures, videos and more news are to be found on Indymedia Nederland. No statement at the moment about this eviction on the ADM website. More news to follow as soon as possible
https://en.squat.net/2019/01/07/amsterdam-adm-eviction/
ADM
Amsterdam, the Netherlands
https://squ.at/r/5g4
https://adm.amsterdam/

Some squats in Amsterdam: https://radar.squat.net/en/groups/city/amsterdam/type/squat
Groups (social centres, collectives, squats) in Amsterdam:https://radar.squat.net/en/groups/city/amsterdam
Events in Amsterdam: https://radar.squat.net/en/events/city/Amsterdam

Nearly 600 homeless people died last year in the UK, first official government figures show

Homeless deaths soar by 24 per cent in five years

May Bulman – Social Affairs Correspondent – @maybulman – Fri 21 December 2018

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/homeless-deaths-2017-last-year-figures-streets-rough-sleeping-a8692101.html

Nearly 600 homeless people died last year in England and Wales, according to government figures published for the first time.

The figure marks a 24 per cent increase over the last five years, according to the data.

Only two days ago, a homeless man was found collapsed yards from parliament. He later died in hospital, prompting claims ministers were ignoring the growing problem of street homelessness on their doorstep.

Another homeless man died in the same place during a freezing cold night in February.

The latest figures, collated by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), show more than half of all deaths of homeless people in 2017 were due to drug poisoning, liver disease or suicide.

London and the northwest of England had the highest mortality of homeless people, both in numbers of deaths and per million population of the region.

Some 84 per cent of those who died were men. The average life expectancy for homeless people was found to be 44 years for men and 42 years for women.

For the general population of England and Wales in 2017, the mean age at death is 76 years for men and 81 years for women.

The records identified are mainly those sleeping rough, or using emergency accommodation such as homeless shelters and direct access hostels, at or around the time of death.

Separate figures published by Crisis last week revealed levels of rough sleeping in the UK – including sleeping on public transport and in tents – had doubled in five years, rising by 20 per cent to 24,000 in just 12 months.

Gyula Remes, a 43-year-old Hungarian national, was found by British Transport Police on Tuesday night outside Westminster underground station. Although officers administered first aid, he died hours later.

He was initially found by his friend Gabor Kasza looking “all blue” near a set of revolving doors used by politicians and staff in the House of Commons.

Mr Kasza said Mr Remes had been drinking that night and had been given a cigarette, which he suspected had been laced with the synthetic drug spice.

He said the Hungarian had recently begun work as a chef’s assistant. He said that Mr Remes was due to receive his first pay cheque “some time this week”, which he had hoped would enable him to get off the streets for good.

Mr Remes’ death caused widespread outrage. Labour MP Neil Coyle said: “We should all be ashamed that Westminster – a world heritage site – is also a place homeless people are forced to try to stay warm.”

Responding to the latest figures, shadow housing minister Melanie Onn said: “These figures are utterly shameful and reflect a complete failure of Conservative policy on housing, which has seen rough sleeping skyrocket since 2010.

“We are one of the richest countries in the world and there is no excuse for people dying on our streets.”

Howard Sinclair, chief executive of St Mungo’s, which supports rough sleepers across the south of England, said: “The figures don’t surprise me. I wish they did. I have personally been informed of five deaths in the past couple of weeks.

“We’ve seen increased numbers, but also increase in the need of people in terms of range and depth of need, particularly in last three to four years. People’s mental health needs are far greater, people’s dependency on drugs is far higher.

“It’s a result of cuts in funding, particularly to NHS services and local authorities. This is one of the effects of austerity – the services people need have been reduced, so it’s no surprise that it’s what we’re seeing day in day out.”

Greg Beales, campaign director at Shelter said: “This appalling loss of life should be a source of national shame. There is nothing inevitable about homelessness or about these tragic deaths which are a consequence of a housing system which fails too many people.

“Our crippling shortage of social housing and a threadbare safety net are at the root of this national emergency and we call on government to make this year a turning point in the fight to ensure that there is a safe home for all those who need it.”

Ben Humberstone of the ONS said: “Every year hundreds of people die while homeless. These are some of the most vulnerable members of our society so it was vital that we produced estimates of sufficient quality to properly shine a light on this critical issue.”

Communities secretary James Brokenshire said: “No one is meant to spend their lives on the streets, or without a home to call their own. Every death on our streets is too many and it is simply unacceptable to see lives cut short this way.

“That’s why we are investing £1.2bn to tackle homelessness and have bold plans backed by £100m to halve rough sleeping by 2022 and end it by 2027.”

He said he was also committed to ensuring independent reviews into the deaths of rough sleepers are conducted where appropriate and that he would be holding local authorities to account.

Revealed: over 500 a year. The UK homeless deaths this Tory government refuses to count

The number of homeless deaths tops 500 amid empty government promises

The Bureau’s count of people who have died homeless in the UK since last winter has now passed 500 – days before the Office for National Statistics (ONS) is due to produce its first ever count of deaths.

Our year-long investigation, currently stands at 554 deaths, though that is likely an underestimate. Those that died include an 81 year-old man who was sleeping on the streets, a mum of two that died in a night shelter and a 47 year-old man who died after being tipped into a bin lorry.

The project prompted the ONS to start compiling its own figures on homeless deaths in England and Wales, which it will release on December 20. Scotland and Northern Ireland’s national records offices are now also considering similar counts.

In October the government pledged to make sure deaths were investigated by local authorities so that lessons could be learned. The Bureau’s figures are “utterly shocking,” said Housing Secretary James Brokenshire, and “it is so important that we understand what has caused those deaths, [by] actually having serious case reviews.”

However the government has admitted since then that it has not offered any extra funding or support to councils to help them do this. The Bureau has found many local authorities are still failing to carry out such reviews, citing lack of resources or saying they do not believe the cases meet the relevant statutory requirements.

Despite the fact five people died in the same homeless hostel in one year, Brighton and Hove council said that no Safeguarding Adult Reviews would be undertaken, because the deaths had not met the “statutory criteria”. Redbridge council also echoed this reasoning.

It is crucial that all homeless deaths are investigated so that lessons can be learned, said Matt Downie, director of policy and external affairs at Crisis. “It is disappointing that no progress has been made to support local authorities to implement this,” he said. “We cannot wait any longer, we need to see action now.”

The Bureau’s statistics on deaths were a harrowing reminder of how deadly life on the streets could be, he added.

“It’s a failure of the largest magnitude that in one of the world’s richest nations, people with nowhere to turn are dying. This has to stop and the government must put in place a full-scale plan to end homelessness once and for all.”

Howard Sinclair, Chief Executive of St Mungo’s, went even further and called for specific funding for reviews: “We think there is a strong case for Government to fund a separate programme outside of the Safeguarding Adult Review process to ensure every death of someone sleeping rough is reviewed. This way we can identify the changes needed, at the local and national level, to stop these tragedies,” he said.

2018: A year of deaths

One of the first deaths we recorded in January was that of 81-year-old Alan Higginson. The octogenarian had been sleeping rough near a John Lewis shop in Norwich city centre. Alan died in hospital of natural causes. Despite an appeal by the police, no family members were found.

Later that same month, 47-year-old Russell Lane died from injuries he sustained when the bin he was sleeping in was tipped into a lorry. An inquest into his death has been postponed.

In February, Polish-born Henrik Bartlomiej was found in Watford outside the tent he slept in. Chief executive of local charity New Hope, Matthew Heasman, said: “We were shocked and saddened to learn of Bart’s death, he is missed dearly by both service users and staff. It’s devastating for someone to lose their life so young because of rough sleeping.” An inquest found he had died from acute alcohol toxicity.

A spell of very cold weather labelled “the Beast from the East” stretched into March, and homeless deaths continued. The weather forced former quantum physicist Hamid Farahi, who had fled the Iraq war, out of the car he lived in and into emergency shelter in a local hotel, where he died.

Martin Dines, 56, died in April after suffering a prolonged physical attack during which he sustained more than 70 injuries. His body was found in a stairwell. Two men were convicted of murder and a woman was convicted of manslaughter.

Mother of two Anna Raynes died in May aged 28. She had spent the night in a shelter after sleeping rough in Bristol and Bath. She was described as “a very kind person” and “the most amazing mum.”

In June, Tracey Patsalides’ body was found in a beach shelter in King Edward’s Parade, Eastbourne. A man was later convicted of her manslaughter. Friends and well-wishers left tributes at the spot but were saddened to see them cleared away by street-cleaners. Her friend described her as “a lovely lady” saying: “She used to light up a room when she walked in, she’d have a smile on her face.”

Anna Raynes died in May aged 28
Tracey Patsalides’ body was found in a beach shelter in Eastbourne

Big Issue seller Fabian Bayet – known as “the Belgian Waffle” for his ability to tell a good story – died in July at the age of 48. He was much loved in the Midlands town of Stony Stratford and in late November a portrait of Fabian was unveiled on the town’s high street.

Kawal Singh, 61, came to the UK from India. He lost his job and ended up rough sleeping for nine years in the Ilford area. He repeatedly asked authorities to return him to his family in India without success, according to a friend. He died on the entrance steps of Redbridge Council in August.

Thirty-two year old Michael Cash, described as a “gentle soul” by his aunt, was found dead in a Middlesborough cemetery in September. Days earlier, a local man Aaron Jones had sprayed red paint over him using a water pistol. The story shocked the country and Jones was later convicted of common assault and criminal damage.

October brought the death of Craig Cunningham, who was also known as “Blakey” and was much loved. He was in his early 40s when he died in hospital. A friend said: “He was always pleasant, always good mannered and always very smiley.” A local charity worker said: “We will all miss him dreadfully, words can’t explain the pain we feel when this happens.” A fellow rough sleeper told local media Craig used to manage a Kwiksave supermarket branch before falling on hard times.

In November, Joanne Jones 44, became the second person to die in a homeless hostel in Bath in just one week. Workers at the shelter described her death as a “tragedy”.

Earlier this month Lee Jenkinson died in hospital with family members at his bedside. He had been sleeping rough in Leeds, despite having a council flat. Charity Simon on the Streets said: “He was a lovely man, well known to services and the public alike. RIP.”

Fabien BayetFabian Bayet was much loved in the town of Stony Stratford
Kawal SinghKawal Singh died on the entrance steps of Redbridge Council

Remembering the dead

Across the country, people have been coming together to mark the deaths and make sure they are remembered.

In London, an annual memorial service at St Martin in the Fields in November heard the names of 170 people that had died homeless in the area last year. In Long Eaton, local campaigners have created a memorial stone with the number of those that have died, while in Manchester a candle lit vigil was held last week.

Jacob Quagliozzi is director of Housing Justice, the charity that organises the annual memorial in St Martin in the Fields. “Each person we remember at that service and those the Bureau has documented have their own story and represents a failure of public policy,” he said. “No one should die on the street in Britain in 2018.”

Header image of tents in an underpass in Milton Keynes by Alex Sturrock

Skin deep beauty of Britain’s Lake District: Villages that no one calls home

Lake District: Villages that no one calls home

https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/1059840/lake-district-villages-second-houses-britain

VILLAGES in the Lake District are being turned into “ghost towns” because of the large number of people buying second homes in the national park, the former leader of the Lib Dems has said.

By DAVID MADDOX – 
Many people buy second homes in the national park
Tim Farron is to demand a change in planning and local taxation laws in Parliament this week because of the problem in one of the most picturesque parts of England. He wants local authorities to have the power to demand double the council tax rate for second homes. The issue, which is replicated in areas of natural beauty such as Devon, Cornwall, North Wales and Norfolk, sees the number of second homes driving up the cost of housing, pricing out local people and threatening services.
Mr Farron, whose Westmorland and Lonsdale constituency includes the Lake District, said: “We don’t want to be unwelcoming or say that people should not buy second homes, but there is a problem in many villages which are being turned into ghost towns because there is nobody living there for much of the year.

“I went door knocking in one village near Hawkshead and every house was empty apart from one where there was just a man in his 70s.”

Mr Farron said the knockon effect was that schools close because there are no children to go there any more, bus services are cancelled and shops go out of business.

He also wants to close a loophole where second homes owners register as a small business avoiding local tax.

“It seems wrong that people who own these homes are not even contributing financially to the community,” he said. “Many people would think it was fair for them to actually pay extra to help keep services alive even if they are not there for much of the year to spend money in the community.”

Mr Farron wants to force property buyers to seek planning permission for a second home designation.

The MP said: “That way the number of second homes in a village could be limited simply by the council refusing to give planning permission.”

He added: “We need to restrict the impact that second homes are having on communities.”

Homeless pods designed to keep rough sleepers alive in the cold and safe from street violence, are denied funding

Homeless pods designed to keep rough sleepers safe are denied funding

The pods were launched in October but haven’t been seen since

The pods on Bridge Street, Newport (Image: Stuart Johnson/Amazing Grace Spaces)

The roll out of pioneering sleeping pods for homeless people has been dealt a blow.

The so-called “pods”, described as an emergency space for rough sleepers, were manufactured by charity group Amazing Grace Spaces.

The units, which offer a warm self-contained space with a bed, chemical toilet and light, were launched in Newport back in October.

Husband-and-wife team, Stuart and Caroline Johnson, who run the charity, showcased two pods on Bridge Street in Newport city centre in an effort to attract interest from organisations and councils.

The two prototypes were funded out from the couple’s own pocket – with each pod costing around £5,500 to produce.

So, where did they go?

Stuart, the charity’s founder and designer of the pods, was in talks with Newport City Council, who were looking to help the charity secure funding for the project.

(Image: Amazing Grace Spaces)

However, the funding application, which went to the Welsh Government, was rejected.

Stuart said: “When we launched the sleeping pods, we had such a fantastic response from both housing professionals, the public and the homeless and we are deeply disappointed and perplexed as to why funding for them was turned down”.

“The sleeping pods are a relatively inexpensive short term emergency accommodation option for the homeless to keep them safe away from the dangers of sleeping in doorways, tents and in underpasses.”

A spokesperson for Newport City Council said: “A funding application to Welsh Government was submitted by Newport City Council in partnership with the Pobl Group and the Wallich.

“It focused on three themes: the provision of additional outreach support for rough sleepers, additional and intensive move-on support and the pod accommodation.

“Two parts of the bid were approved but, unfortunately, funding was not provided for the pods.

“The council is currently considering options as to how this scheme could be funded and supported from potential avenues.”

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “We are investing more than £20 million in tackling homelessness and rough sleeping over the next two years.

“This includes funding for projects in Newport to fund more outreach workers to work proactively with people who are sleeping rough to support them into longer term, stable accommodation.

“We will continue to work with Newport City Council and other partners to prioritise the most effective appropriate projects to support people to move off the street and into longer term housing solutions.”

What now for the pods?

Amazing Grace Spaces will be utilising the two sleeping pods that were showcased and have arranged with a local businessman to house the two sleeping pods at the back of his premises.

Stuart said: “We need to put some final touches to the sleeping pods and arrange insurance and put in place the support required to maintain the pods and we hope to get them out before Christmas.

“We will not give up and will continue to talk with councils across Wales and the Welsh Government to get more of these pods out on our streets so our homeless have a safe emergency shelter to sleep in rather than sleeping in shop doorways.”

Inside the pods (Image: Amazing Grace Spaces)

Amazing Grace Spaces says its does not see this as a solution to homelessness but as an inexpensive option to keep homeless people safe when they need emergency shelter.

They are now looking at other options for funding and one of those is to start their own fundraising campaign, which should be set up in the next few weeks.

For more details, visit the charity’s website.

Email or call us for more information
Email | info@amazinggracespaces.org
Telephone | 07802 451340

Ramblers’ Pathwatch app includes OS 1:50k Landranger & 1:25k Explorer maps

Pathwatch – report path features and problems

Ramblers Assn Pathwatch app includes 1:50 Landranger & 1:25k Explorer OS maps

Found a problem on your walk? Let us know!

https://www.ramblers.org.uk/advice/pathwatch-report-path-features-and-problems.aspx
Whether it’s locked gates, rampant overgrowth or missing signs, occasionally we find our paths blocked or in need of care. Whatever the issue, we want to know about it! As Britain’s walking charity, we’re here to help.
Report path problems through Pathwatch and for England and Wales we’ll alert the local highway authority. Where possible, we’ll also work with them to fix the problem. In Scotland, Pathwatch is still in a pilot stage, so we’re gathering information to build up a picture of walkers’ experiences north of the border by monitoring reports we receive. Where appropriate we’ll share these with access authorities or landowners to try and resolve issues.
Remember Pathwatch isn’t just for reporting problems. You can also tell us about great things that you find on walks too – such as interesting flora and fauna or an impressive view.
By reporting problems and celebrating the great things you discover, you are not only doing your bit to look after paths, but helping us celebrate the best of British walking and find long term solutions to protecting paths and access for years to come.
There are two ways you can report problems:

1. The Pathwatch app

We’ve built an entire app that allows you to report features on the go – straight from your pocket.
Using the app you can report positive and negative features, send us photos and even share your discoveries via social media. Using GPS and your phone signal, the app can locate you on OS maps and will allow you report what you’ve found with the press of a few buttons.
The app also works offline and allows you to download OS grid square maps for your walks in England and Wales.

Get started with the app on Android
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=uk.co.esdm.bpw
or iOS today:
https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/the-ramblers-big-pathwatch/id999463505

2. Pathwatch online

You can report features directly through the online version of the app.
It’s slightly different to the app but still gets us all the information we (and local authorities) need. It also syncs up with the features you record on the app, so you can view all your reported features. Online, you can also report features anonymously and won’t need to register or login.
Just like the app, you can scroll around Britain on OS Map data to find the location of the feature you’re reporting.
https://www.ramblers.org.uk/get-involved/big-pathwatch.aspx

How path maintenance and access works

In England and Wales it’s the responsibility of local councils to make sure paths and access land are open and easy for walkers to use. The body responsible for maintaining public rights of way and keeping them free from obstruction is called the Highway Authority. In practice, this is the county council or unitary authority. That’s why we let them know what you send us through Pathwatch – so we can work together to resolve issues.

In Scotland, the  legal situation is  different, as walkers enjoy a right to roam on most land. While Pathwatch was designed for the context of walking in England and Wales, we are pleased that it can now be used in Scotland too. The project is currently in the pilot stage in Scotland so we can gather information about the experiences of walkers north of the border. We’ll collect all the information you report and pass problems on to access authorities or landowners where possible to help get them resolved.

What do the Ramblers do?

On average we solve over 600 path problems each year in England and Wales. Look at our map of successes to see where we’ve unblocked, saved and even created paths.

We work directly with local councils to keep the countryside open to all. Our volunteer path teams cut back overgrowth, insert new waymarks and signposts, replace stiles with gates and even repair bridges. Why not join them?

Any queries?

If you’ve got any queries or can’t report path features with the options above, let us know via pathwatch@ramblers.zendesk.com or give us a call on 0203 961 3130  or for Scottish queries call 020 3961 3270.

If you are unable to use either the app or the dedicated web pages to report a path problem, please take a note of where the path issue is when you are on your walk and pass this information to a group member who is able to submit on your behalf, or contact us using the details above.

Memory lanes: the ramblers trying to save 10,000 lost British footpaths

Memory lanes: the ramblers trying to save 10,000 lost footpaths

It’s not just walkers who get lost – paths can get lost, too. Now a small army of volunteers are seeking to recover thousands of public rights of way before they disappear for ever

Kevin Rushby Tue 4 Dec 2018

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/dec/04/memory-lanes-the-ramblers-trying-to-save-10000-lost-footpaths

Once paths failed to appear on maps, people stopped walking them and, within a few years, they were invisible.

Paul Howland is standing in a bed of nettles, his head surrounded by a halo of dusky blue sloes. Behind him is an impenetrable tangle of undergrowth, self-seeded trees and what looks like the long-discarded parts of an a vehicle.

“The old path went up here,” he says, waving his walking pole further into the thicket. “I first spotted it on Milne’s county map of Hampshire from 1791.”

Howland emerges from the nettles and shows me an image on his phone which confirms his suspicions: we have just found one of Britain’s missing footpaths.

“This is Greenwood’s 1826 county map and you can see the path. It was called the Markway and goes straight up to this line – now the A30 road. But compare that with the current Ordnance Survey map.” He unfolds a paper map and points to our position.

“Instead of going straight, the footpath turns hard left at this point and heads back towards Andover. What we have here is a missing mile to a forgotten right of way – and a very useful missing mile, because it links to other footpaths.”

Paul Howland.

England and Wales have about 140,000 miles of footpaths, but there are an estimated 10,000 more that have been lost from current maps. Even that figure looks like a huge underestimate: a recent survey in Cornwall alone identified 3,000 possible paths that had fallen out of use and needed to be checked. That work of rediscovery is being done by volunteers, people such as Howland, who has so far made 85 legal applications for the recovery of lost paths in a small corner of Hampshire. A government deadline of 2026 for such claims has given Howland’s work a renewed sense of urgency.

“It sounds like plenty of time, but I reckon that in our area we’d need to make two applications every week until 2026. There is just so much to be done.”

As a walker, I reflect, I’m used to losing my way. It’s a bit alarming, however, to find that paths can get lost, too.

Howland chuckles. “It’s easier than you think.”

We give up any attempt to force a way through the bushes and set off up the path to the left. Two deer watch us warily from a stubble field and the giant white dish of a radio telescope appears to hover on the horizon as we catch up with a group from the Ramblers, among them Jack Cornish, project manager for the nationwide campaign Don’t Lose Your Way. He explains how government legislation in 1949 ruled that every council should draw a definitive map of footpaths and bridleways, a laudable aim, but one carried out piecemeal.

“Some parishes recorded hundreds of paths, others did almost nothing. You ended up with footpaths that led nowhere or simply disappeared.” Once those paths failed to appear on OS maps, people stopped walking them. The nettles grew, the ash and sycamore seeds blew in and, within a few years, they were invisible. If a housing estate or a major road then appeared, that path was truly lost. And it did not only happen in the countryside. The Open Spaces Society has pointed out that urban areas were often exempt from the 1949 regulations and produced no definitive maps, leaving footpaths in cities and towns particularly under threat.

Howland has a rough estimate of losses from his own experience. “In my area I expect an annual loss of half a percent – mostly from new buildings and roads.”

“Those missing paths can be the vital element in a good circular walk, or access to great countryside.”

“These are ancient rights of way,” Cornish adds. “Rights built up over centuries. And it’s not just about walkers: cyclists and horse riders need them, too.”

We reach a sign – “Private road, access only” – and ignore it. “It’s a public bridleway,” says Howland, reassuringly. One of the ramblers finds a sign lost in the undergrowth and, producing a pair of secateurs, quickly makes it visible again.

Walking with Howland is to see the British landscape through a fresh pair of eyes. Where I see walls of thorny bushes, he sees a double hedge hiding an ancient drovers’ path; where I see neat white posts at the entrance to someone’s drive, Howland sees a devious attempt to gull the public into believing they are on private land; most of all, where I see cul-de-sacs and dead ends, he spots opportunities to discover lost routes. He reads the landscape like a detective, building the physical elements into narratives of growth and change.

He shows me a patch of land on his OS map called Bransbury Common that was declared open-access land under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. Almost surrounded by a chalk stream, it was both biologically important and a local beauty spot. For as long as it has been an open-access area, the two bridges that once allowed entry have been unusable. They have never been replaced. “The public have the right to be on Bransbury Common,” says Howland. “But getting there is harder.”

He has seen abandoned railways, used as footpaths and recorded as such on OS maps, summarily closed when new owners arrive. In other places, agricultural schemes such as the Countryside Stewardship demand that landowners open up paths in return for payments. When the schemes finish, these “permissive” paths can disappear overnight. On other occasions, new owners simply don’t understand local traditions. In October 2016, for example, villagers in Bratton, in Wiltshire, were astonished to find a traditional riverside path through watercress beds blocked by barbed wire and “private property” signs. A London property dealer had bought the local mill and erected the barriers. It took a two-year court battle to establish that the path was a legal right of way.

“There are two ways to recover a lost path,” Cornish says. “By proving regular public use over a 20-year period without any attempt to prevent access by a landowner, and by detective work on historical maps.”

What about the Markway, I ask. How did that disappear?

“Almost by accident.” Howland says. “In the second world war, a Hurricane fighter base was built here and the path temporarily blocked. That order was not rescinded until 1956. By then it was too late: the last mile of the route had got overgrown and forgotten.” If not for Howland, this right of way would have permanently disappeared.

We stop talking to stroll along a short section of busy road, before turning once again on to a path where spindle flowers gleam like nubs of coral in the hedge. A kestrel cuts away across the field, glorying in its freedom. We come eventually into the pretty thatched village of Chilbolton and, in the way of all good country walks, reach a pub.

Over a bowl of hot soup, Howland shows me the paperwork that each Definitive Map Modification Order entails. “It does take hours of work, but a lot of the information and maps are now online. The National Library of Scotland website is particularly useful. You don’t need to be spending days in the National Archives at Kew, interesting as that would be.”

The campaign has put pressure on under-resourced local councils. Hampshire’s executive member for rural affairs, Edward Heron, pointed out to me that Hampshire has seen a rise in applications from five a year to 35. “We expect that these increases will continue until the closure date of 2026.”

The good news is that any application submitted by the 2026 deadline will, eventually, go through the legal process of assessment and consultation.

Meanwhile Howland is planning more routes. His diffident manner masks a steely determination, and he clearly likes the elements of research and historical analysis. “It’s given me a better understanding of how the landscape changes and develops.” In theory, that research could go back to the era of Richard I. His reign, which began on 4 July 1189, is the beginning of legal time. In practice, many rights of way date back to the enclosure acts of 1750 to 1850. Either way the sense of a long game being played is palpable and Howland knows it.

“A restored right of way will usually last for ever.” He smiles. “There aren’t many tasks in life that you can say that about.”

Cumbria villagers oppose army bid to ‘grab’ common land

Villagers believe changing status of moorland near firing range will stop farmers grazing

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/sep/14/cumbria-villagers-oppose-army-bid-to-grab-common-land

The Warcop training area.
The Warcop training area

Cumbrian villagers have accused the Ministry of Defence of attempting a “land grab” after a proposal to turn common land into a firing range.

A public inquiry has been launched over plans to remove the common land status from an area of moorland near Appleby-in-Westmorland.

Villagers believe transferring ownership of the area to the British army will leave farmers unable to graze a major part of the Pennines.

The taking of common land into private ownership has long been controversial and led to the creation of 19th-century conservation movements including the National Trust.

This is the first time since 1914 that the MoD has attempted to take over a piece of land designated as an enclosure.

It has applied to “de-register” 4,500 hectares of common land near Warcop training area. A 1965 act of parliament states that all commons and village greens should be listed on a register. According to the Open Spaces Society, which opposes the plan, deregistration would transfer ownership of the land to the MoD.

During the inquiry in Kendal, MoD barristers lined up against the Open Spaces Society, the Foundation for Common Land, the Federation of Cumbria Commoners, the Friends of the Lake District and the Hilton Commoners.

Julia Aglionby, from the Foundation for Common Land, who presented a submission against the plans at the inquiry, said the law discussed during the two-day hearing was “unbelievably complex”.

She said: “The MoD have effectively said they don’t have to justify why they are doing it, they are just going to do it.

“Only 3% of England is common land and it goes back to the heart of people having access to countryside. It is a very emotional issue where effectively poor people have been thrown off the lands since the 16th century and now we are having a 21st-century version of this.”

She added: “By stopping the land being common land there is much less much protection for the wider public interest. If this happens people could build roads across it, there could be wind turbines, tank training areas, and that would not require consent from the secretary of state.”

The common land comprises three fells, Murton, Hilton and Warcop and amounts to 1% of all existing common land in England. The land lies within the North Pennines area of outstanding natural beauty on the route of the Pennine Way.

Immediately to the south is the 10,000-hectare Warcop training area, where about 5,000 soldiers, mostly from Catterick garrison in North Yorkshire, conduct live-fire exercises with rifles and mortars.

In 2002 the army decided to expand its training area and took out compulsory purchase orders for the grazing rights of 70 farmers on the three fells. That gave the MoD control of when it could use the land for exercises.

The MoD sells farmers grazing licences at about £2.40 a head for both the three fells and the mock battlefields of its training area. The farmers have to wait for days when the red flags warning of live-fire training are not up – now 32 days a year, including a week at Christmas.

An MoD spokesman said: “We are not proposing to restrict public access in any way and have no plans to sell the land. We have applied to de-register land at Warcop training area to safeguard the MoD’s ability to train.”

The inquiry has been adjourned until 30 October and has been extended to another four days.

1637 Pequot massacre: ​The REAL Story of the Annual U.S. Thanksgiving

Manataka American Indian Council
Introduction for Teachers

https://www.manataka.org/page269.html

The Plymouth Thanksgiving Story

THE REAL STORY OF THANKSGIVING

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.

Our Thanks to Hill & Holler Column by Susan Bates  susanbates@webtv.net

More About Thanksgiving…
INTRODUCTION FOR TEACHERS

By Chuck Larsen

This is a particularly difficult introduction to write. I have been a public schools teacher for twelve years, and I am also a historian and have written several books on American and Native American history. I also just happen to be Quebeque French, Metis, Ojibwa, and Iroquois. Because my Indian ancestors were on both sides of the struggle between the Puritans and the New England Indians and I am well versed in my cultural heritage and history both as an Anishnabeg (Algokin) and Hodenosione (Iroquois), it was felt that I could bring a unique insight to the project.

For an Indian, who is also a school teacher, Thanksgiving was never an easy holiday for me to deal with in class. I sometimes have felt like I learned too much about “the Pilgrims and the Indians.” Every year I have been faced with the professional and moral dilemma of just how to be honest and informative with my children at Thanksgiving without passing on historical distortions, and racial and cultural stereotypes.

The problem is that part of what you and I learned in our own childhood about the “Pilgrims” and “Squanto” and the “First Thanksgiving” is a mixture of both history and myth. But the THEME of Thanksgiving has truth and integrity far above and beyond what we and our forebearers have made of it. Thanksgiving is a bigger concept than just the story of the founding of the Plymouth Plantation.

So what do we teach to our children? We usually pass on unquestioned what we all received in our own childhood classrooms. I have come to know both the truths and the myths about our “First Thanksgiving,” and I feel we need to try to reach beyond the myths to some degree of historic truth. This text is an attempt to do this.

At this point you are probably asking, “What is the big deal about Thanksgiving and the Pilgrims?” “What does this guy mean by a mixture of truths and myth?” That is just what this introduction is all about. I propose that there may be a good deal that many of us do not know about our Thanksgiving holiday and also about the “First Thanksgiving” story. I also propose that what most of us have learned about the Pilgrims and the Indians who were at the first Thanksgiving at Plymouth Plantation is only part of the truth. When you build a lesson on only half of the information, then you are not teaching the whole truth. That is why I used the word myth. So where do you start to find out more about the holiday and our modern stories about how it began?

A good place to start is with a very important book, “The Invasion of America,” by Francis Jennings. It is a very authoritative text on the settlement of New England and the evolution of Indian/White relations in the New England colonies. I also recommend looking up any good text on British history. Check out the British Civil War of 1621-1642, Oliver Cromwell, and the Puritan uprising of 1653 which ended parliamentary government in England until 1660. The history of the Puritan experience in New England really should not be separated from the history of the Puritan experience in England. You should also realize that the “Pilgrims” were a sub sect, or splinter group, of the Puritan movement. They came to America to achieve on this continent what their Puritan bretheran continued to strive for in England; and when the Puritans were forced from England, they came to New England and soon absorbed the original “Pilgrims.”

As the editor, I have read all the texts listed in our bibliography, and many more, in preparing this material for you. I want you to read some of these books. So let me use my editorial license to deliberately provoke you a little. When comparing the events stirred on by the Puritans in England with accounts of Puritan/Pilgrim activities in New England in the same era, several provocative things suggest themselves:

1. The Puritans were not just simple religious conservatives persecuted by the King and the Church of England for their unorthodox beliefs. They were political revolutionaries who not only intended to overthrow the government of England, but who actually did so in 1649.

2. The Puritan “Pilgrims” who came to New England were not simply refugees who decided to “put their fate in God’s hands” in the “empty wilderness” of North America, as a generation of Hollywood movies taught us. In any culture at any time, settlers on a frontier are most often outcasts and fugitives who, in some way or other, do not fit into the mainstream of their society. This is not to imply that people who settle on frontiers have no redeeming qualities such as bravery, etc., but that the images of nobility that we associate with the Puritans are at least in part the good “P.R.” efforts of later writers who have romanticized them.(1) It is also very plausible that this unnaturally noble image of the Puritans is all wrapped up with the mythology of “Noble Civilization” vs. “Savagery.”(2) At any rate, mainstream Englishmen considered the Pilgrims to be deliberate religious dropouts who intended to found a new nation completely independent from non-Puritan England. In 1643 the Puritan/Pilgrims declared themselves an independent confederacy, one hundred and forty-three years before the American Revolution. They believed in the imminent occurrence of Armegeddon in Europe and hoped to establish here in the new world the “Kingdom of God” foretold in the book of Revelation. They diverged from their Puritan brethren who remained in England only in that they held little real hope of ever being able to successfully overthrow the King and Parliament and, thereby, impose their “Rule of Saints” (strict Puritan orthodoxy) on the rest of the British people. So they came to America not just in one ship (the Mayflower) but in a hundred others as well, with every intention of taking the land away from its native people to build their prophesied “Holy Kingdom.”(3)

3. The Pilgrims were not just innocent refugees from religious persecution. They were victims of bigotry in England, but some of them were themselves religious bigots by our modern standards. The Puritans and the Pilgrims saw themselves as the “Chosen Elect” mentioned in the book of Revelation. They strove to “purify” first themselves and then everyone else of everything they did not accept in their own interpretation of scripture. Later New England Puritans used any means, including deceptions, treachery, torture, war, and genocide to achieve that end.(4) They saw themselves as fighting a holy war against Satan, and everyone who disagreed with them was the enemy. This rigid fundamentalism was transmitted to America by the Plymouth colonists, and it sheds a very different light on the “Pilgrim” image we have of them. This is best illustrated in the written text of the Thanksgiving sermon delivered at Plymouth in 1623 by “Mather the Elder.” In it, Mather the Elder gave special thanks to God for the devastating plague of smallpox which wiped out the majority of the Wampanoag Indians who had been their benefactors. He praised God for destroying “chiefly young men and children, the very seeds of increase, thus clearing the forests to make way for a better growth”, i.e., the Pilgrims.(5) In as much as these Indians were the Pilgrim’s benefactors, and Squanto, in particular, was the instrument of their salvation that first year, how are we to interpret this apparent callousness towards their misfortune?

4. The Wampanoag Indians were not the “friendly savages” some of us were told about when we were in the primary grades. Nor were they invited out of the goodness of the Pilgrims’ hearts to share the fruits of the Pilgrims’ harvest in a demonstration of Christian charity and interracial brotherhood. The Wampanoag were members of a widespread confederacy of Algonkian-speaking peoples known as the League of the Delaware. For six hundred years they had been defending themselves from my other ancestors, the Iroquois, and for the last hundred years they had also had encounters with European fishermen and explorers but especially with European slavers, who had been raiding their coastal villages.(6) They knew something of the power of the white people, and they did not fully trust them. But their religion taught that they were to give charity to the helpless and hospitality to anyone who came to them with empty hands.(7) Also, Squanto, the Indian hero of the Thanksgiving story, had a very real love for a British explorer named John Weymouth, who had become a second father to him several years before the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth. Clearly, Squanto saw these Pilgrims as Weymouth’s people.(8) To the Pilgrims the Indians were heathens and, therefore, the natural instruments of the Devil. Squanto, as the only educated and baptized Christian among the Wampanoag, was seen as merely an instrument of God, set in the wilderness to provide for the survival of His chosen people, the Pilgrims. The Indians were comparatively powerful and, therefore, dangerous; and they were to be courted until the next ships arrived with more Pilgrim colonists and the balance of power shifted. The Wampanoag were actually invited to that Thanksgiving feast for the purpose of negotiating a treaty that would secure the lands of the Plymouth Plantation for the Pilgrims. It should also be noted that the INDIANS, possibly out of a sense of charity toward their hosts, ended up bringing the majority of the food for the feast.(9)

5. A generation later, after the balance of power had indeed shifted, the Indian and White children of that Thanksgiving were striving to kill each other in the genocidal conflict known as King Philip’s War. At the end of that conflict most of the New England Indians were either exterminated or refugees among the French in Canada, or they were sold into slavery in the Carolinas by the Puritans. So successful was this early trade in Indian slaves that several Puritan ship owners in Boston began the practice of raiding the Ivory Coast of Africa for black slaves to sell to the proprietary colonies of the South, thus founding the American-based slave trade.(10)

Obviously there is a lot more to the story of Indian/Puritan relations in New England than in the thanksgiving stories we heard as children. Our contemporary mix of myth and history about the “First” Thanksgiving at Plymouth developed in the 1890s and early 1900s. Our country was desperately trying to pull together its many diverse peoples into a common national identity. To many writers and educators at the end of the last century and the beginning of this one, this also meant having a common national history. This was the era of the “melting pot” theory of social progress, and public education was a major tool for social unity. It was with this in mind that the federal government declared the last Thursday in November as the legal holiday of Thanksgiving in 1898.

In consequence, what started as an inspirational bit of New England folklore, soon grew into the full-fledged American Thanksgiving we now know. It emerged complete with stereotyped Indians and stereotyped Whites, incomplete history, and a mythical significance as our “First Thanksgiving.” But was it really our FIRST American Thanksgiving?

Now that I have deliberately provoked you with some new information and different opinions, please take the time to read some of the texts in our bibliography. I want to encourage you to read further and form your own opinions. There really is a TRUE Thanksgiving story of Plymouth Plantation. But I strongly suggest that there always has been a Thanksgiving story of some kind or other for as long as there have been human beings. There was also a “First” Thanksgiving in America, but it was celebrated thirty thousand years ago.(11) At some time during the New Stone Age (beginning about ten thousand years ago) Thanksgiving became associated with giving thanks to God for the harvests of the land. Thanksgiving has always been a time of people coming together, so thanks has also been offered for that gift of fellowship between us all.  Every last Thursday in November we now partake in one of the OLDEST and most UNIVERSAL of human celebrations, and THERE ARE MANY THANKSGIVING STORIES TO TELL.

As for Thanksgiving week at Plymouth Plantation in 1621, the friendship was guarded and not always sincere, and the peace was very soon abused. But for three days in New England’s history, peace and friendship were there.

So here is a story for your children. It is as kind and gentle a balance of historic truth and positive inspiration as its writers and this editor can make it out to be. I hope it will adequately serve its purpose both for you and your students, and I also hope this work will encourage you to look both deeper and farther, for Thanksgiving is Thanksgiving all around the world.

Chuck Larsen Tacoma Public Schools September, 1986

FOOTNOTES FOR TEACHER INTRODUCTION

(1) See Berkhofer, Jr., R.F., “The White Man’s Indian,” references to Puritans, pp. 27, 80-85, 90, 104, & 130.

(2) See Berkhofer, Jr., R.F., “The White Man’s Indian,” references to frontier concepts of savagery in index. Also see Jennings, Francis, “The Invasion of America,” the myth of savagery, pp. 6-12, 15-16, & 109-110.

(3) See Blitzer, Charles, “Age of Kings,” Great Ages of Man series, references to Puritanism, pp. 141, 144 & 145-46. Also see Jennings, Francis, “The Invasion of America,” references to Puritan human motives, pp. 4-6, 43- 44 and 53.

(4) See “Chronicles of American Indian Protest,” pp. 6-10. Also see Armstrong, Virginia I., “I Have Spoken,” reference to Cannonchet and his village, p. 6. Also see Jennings, Francis, “The Invasion of America,” Chapter 9 “Savage War,” Chapter 13 “We must Burn Them,” and Chapter 17 “Outrage Bloody and Barbarous.”

(5) See “Chronicles of American Indian Protest,” pp. 6-9. Also see Berkhofer, Jr., R.F., “The White Man’s Indian,” the comments of Cotton Mather, pp. 37 & 82-83.

(6) See Larsen, Charles M., “The Real Thanksgiving,” pp. 3-4. Also see Graff, Steward and Polly Ann, “Squanto, Indian Adventurer.” Also see “Handbook of North American Indians,” Vol. 15, the reference to Squanto on p. 82.

(7) See Benton-Banai, Edward, “The Mishomis Book,” as a reference on general “Anishinabe” (the Algonkin speaking peoples) religious beliefs and practices. Also see Larsen, Charles M., “The Real Thanksgiving,” reference to religious life on p. 1.

(8) See Graff, Stewart and Polly Ann, “Squanto, Indian Adventurer.” Also see Larsen, Charles M., “The Real Thanksgiving.” Also see Bradford, Sir William, “Of Plymouth Plantation,” and “Mourt’s Relation.”

(9) See Larsen, Charles M., “The Real Thanksgiving,” the letter of Edward Winslow dated 1622, pp. 5-6.

(10) See “Handbook of North American Indians,” Vol. 15, pp. 177-78. Also see “Chronicles of American Indian Protest,” p. 9, the reference to the enslavement of King Philip’s family. Also see Larsen, Charles, M., “The Real Thanksgiving,” pp. 8-11, “Destruction of the Massachusetts Indians.”

(11) Best current estimate of the first entry of people into the Americas confirmed by archaeological evidence that is datable.

THE PLYMOUTH THANKSGIVING STORY

By Chuck Larsen

When the Pilgrims crossed the Atlantic Ocean in 1620, they landed on the rocky shores of a territory that was inhabited by the Wampanoag (Wam pa NO ag) Indians. The Wampanoags were part of the Algonkian-speaking peoples, a large group that was part of the Woodland Culture area. These Indians lived in villages along the coast of what is now Massachusetts and Rhode Island. They lived in round- roofed houses called wigwams. These were made of poles covered with flat sheets of elm or birch bark. Wigwams differ in construction from tipis that were used by Indians of the Great Plains.

The Wampanoags moved several times during each year in order to get food. In the spring they would fish in the rivers for salmon and herring. In the planting season they moved to the forest to hunt deer and other animals. After the end of the hunting season people moved inland where there was greater protection from the weather. From December to April they lived on food that they stored during the earlier months.

The basic dress for men was the breech clout, a length of deerskin looped over a belt in back and in front. Women wore deerskin wrap-around skirts. Deerskin leggings and fur capes made from deer, beaver, otter, and bear skins gave protection during the colder seasons, and deerskin moccasins were worn on the feet. Both men and women usually braided their hair and a single feather was often worn in the back of the hair by men. They did not have the large feathered headdresses worn by people in the Plains Culture area.

There were two language groups of Indians in New England at this time. The Iroquois were neighbors to the Algonkian-speaking people. Leaders of the Algonquin and Iroquois people were called “sachems” (SAY chems). Each village had its own sachem and tribal council. Political power flowed upward from the people. Any individual, man or woman, could participate, but among the Algonquins more political power was held by men. Among the Iroquois, however, women held the deciding vote in the final selection of who would represent the group. Both men and women enforced the laws of the village and helped solve problems. The details of their democratic system were so impressive that about 150 years later Benjamin Franklin invited the Iroquois to Albany, New York, to explain their system to a delegation who then developed the “Albany Plan of Union.” This document later served as a model for the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution of the United States.

These Indians of the Eastern Woodlands called the turtle, the deer and the fish their brothers. They respected the forest and everything in it as equals. Whenever a hunter made a kill, he was careful to leave behind some bones or meat as a spiritual offering, to help other animals survive. Not to do so would be considered greedy. The Wampanoags also treated each other with respect. Any visitor to a Wampanoag home was provided with a share of whatever food the family had, even if the supply was low. This same courtesy was extended to the Pilgrims when they met.

We can only guess what the Wampanoags must have thought when they first saw the strange ships of the Pilgrims arriving on their shores. But their custom was to help visitors, and they treated the newcomers with courtesy. It was mainly because of their kindness that the Pilgrims survived at all. The wheat the Pilgrims had brought with them to plant would not grow in the rocky soil. They needed to learn new ways for a new world, and the man who came to help them was called “Tisquantum” (Tis SKWAN tum) or “Squanto” (SKWAN toe).

Squanto was originally from the village of Patuxet (Pa TUK et) and a member of the Pokanokit Wampanoag nation. Patuxet once stood on the exact site where the Pilgrims built Plymouth. In 1605, fifteen years before the Pilgrims came, Squanto went to England with a friendly English explorer named John Weymouth. He had many adventures and learned to speak English. Squanto came back to New England with Captain Weymouth. Later Squanto was captured by a British slaver who raided the village and sold Squanto to the Spanish in the Caribbean Islands. A Spanish Franciscan priest befriended Squanto and helped him to get to Spain and later on a ship to England. Squanto then found Captain Weymouth, who paid his way back to his homeland. In England Squanto met Samoset of the Wabanake (Wab NAH key) Tribe, who had also left his native home with an English explorer. They both returned together to Patuxet in 1620. When they arrived, the village was deserted and there were skeletons everywhere. Everyone in the village had died from an illness the English slavers had left behind. Squanto and Samoset went to stay with a neighboring village of Wampanoags.

One year later, in the spring, Squanto and Samoset were hunting along the beach near Patuxet. They were startled to see people from England in their deserted village. For several days, they stayed nearby observing the newcomers. Finally they decided to approach them. Samoset walked into the village and said “welcome,” Squanto soon joined him. The Pilgrims were very surprised to meet two Indians who spoke English.

The Pilgrims were not in good condition. They were living in dirt-covered shelters, there was a shortage of food, and nearly half of them had died during the winter. They obviously needed help and the two men were a welcome sight. Squanto, who probably knew more English than any other Indian in North America at that time, decided to stay with the Pilgrims for the next few months and teach them how to survive in this new place. He brought them deer meat and beaver skins. He taught them how to cultivate corn and other new vegetables and how to build Indian-style houses. He pointed out poisonous plants and showed how other plants could be used as medicine. He explained how to dig and cook clams, how to get sap from the maple trees, use fish for fertilizer, and dozens of other skills needed for their survival.

By the time fall arrived things were going much better for the Pilgrims, thanks to the help they had received. The corn they planted had grown well. There was enough food to last the winter. They were living comfortably in their Indian-style wigwams and had also managed to build one European-style building out of squared logs. This was their church. They were now in better health, and they knew more about surviving in this new land. The Pilgrims decided to have a thanksgiving feast to celebrate their good fortune. They had observed thanksgiving feasts in November as religious obligations in England for many years before coming to the New World.

The Algonkian tribes held six thanksgiving festivals during the year. The beginning of the Algonkian year was marked by the Maple Dance which gave thanks to the Creator for the maple tree and its syrup. This ceremony occurred when the weather was warm enough for the sap to run in the maple trees, sometimes as early as February. Second was the planting feast, where the seeds were blessed. The strawberry festival was next, celebrating the first fruits of the season. Summer brought the green corn festival to give thanks for the ripening corn. In late fall, the harvest festival gave thanks for the food they had grown. Mid-winter was the last ceremony of the old year. When the Indians sat down to the “first Thanksgiving” with the Pilgrims, it was really the fifth thanksgiving of the year for them!

Captain Miles Standish, the leader of the Pilgrims, invited Squanto, Samoset, Massasoit (the leader of the Wampanoags), and their immediate families to join them for a celebration, but they had no idea how big Indian families could be. As the Thanksgiving feast began, the Pilgrims were overwhelmed at the large turnout of ninety relatives that Squanto and Samoset brought with them. The Pilgrims were not prepared to feed a gathering of people that large for three days. Seeing this, Massasoit gave orders to his men within the first hour of his arrival to go home and get more food. Thus it happened that the Indians supplied the majority of the food: Five deer, many wild turkeys, fish, beans, squash, corn soup, corn bread, and berries. Captain Standish sat at one end of a long table and the Clan Chief Massasoit sat at the other end. For the first time the Wampanoag people were sitting at a table to eat instead of on mats or furs spread on the ground. The Indian women sat together with the Indian men to eat. The Pilgrim women, however, stood quietly behind the table and waited until after their men had eaten, since that was their custom.

For three days the Wampanoags feasted with the Pilgrims. It was a special time of friendship between two very different groups of people. A peace and friendship agreement was made between Massasoit and Miles Standish giving the Pilgrims the clearing in the forest where the old Patuxet village once stood to build their new town of Plymouth.

It would be very good to say that this friendship lasted a long time; but, unfortunately, that was not to be. More English people came to America, and they were not in need of help from the Indians as were the original Pilgrims. Many of the newcomers forgot the help the Indians had given them. Mistrust started to grow and the friendship weakened. The Pilgrims started telling their Indian neighbors that their Indian religion and Indian customs were wrong. The Pilgrims displayed an intolerance toward the Indian religion similar to the intolerance displayed toward the less popular religions in Europe. The relationship deteriorated and within a few years the children of the people who ate together at the first Thanksgiving were killing one another in what came to be called King Phillip’s War.

It is sad to think that this happened, but it is important to understand all of the story and not just the happy part. Today the town of Plymouth Rock has a Thanksgiving ceremony each year in remembrance of the first Thanksgiving. There are still Wampanoag people living in Massachusetts. In 1970, they asked one of them to speak at the ceremony to mark the 350th anniversary of the Pilgrim’s arrival.

Here is part of what was said:  Frank James speech was written but was suppressed and he did not speak at the ceremony.

“Today is a time of celebrating for you — a time of looking back to the first days of white people in America. But it is not a time of celebrating for me. It is with a heavy heart that I look back upon what happened to my People. When the Pilgrims arrived, we, the Wampanoags, welcomed them with open arms, little knowing that it was the beginning of the end. That before 50 years were to pass, the Wampanoag would no longer be a tribe. That we and other Indians living near the settlers would be killed by their guns or dead from diseases that we caught from them. Let us always remember, the Indian is and was just as human as the white people.

Although our way of life is almost gone, we, the Wampanoags, still walk the lands of Massachusetts. What has happened cannot be changed. But today we work toward a better America, a more Indian America where people and nature once again are important.”

a Landrights campaign for Britain

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