Many Native Americans celebrate 'National Day of Mourning' on Thanksgiving Day, by gathering at the top of Coles Hill that overlooks Plymouth Rock. The day brings forth a historical chapter that happened a few years ago. The first National Day of Mourning was held in 1970. Wampanoag leader Frank James was invited by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to deliver a speech, on the 350th anniversary celebration of the Pilgrim's arrival on Wampanoag American Indian's land. Just before the event, the anniversary planners came to know that Mr. James has prepared a speech that carried the message of anger and revolt. The speech was against the theme of the celebration, the friendly relations between their forefathers and the Wampanoag
A public relations person, appointed by the anniversary planners, revised Mr. James’ speech and handed it over. However, rather than delivering the revised speech, Mr. James’ decided to not attend the celebration. In fact, he decided to protest the continued silencing of the American Indian people. Along with his supporters, he went to the neighboring Coles Hill, near the statue of Massasoit (leader of the Wampanoag when the Pilgrims landed). There, he gave his original speech, overlooking the Plymouth Harbour and the Mayflower replica and the day became the first National Day of Mourning.
People across America share contrasting views regarding the day. For many people, the historical event of the 'First Thanksgiving' or the harvest festival of 1621 represents the mutual respect the Pilgrims and Native Americans shared for each other. This explains the reason why the festival is celebrated still today. Many Americans find the festival as a perfect occasion to rejoice. They see the “First Thanksgiving” as the history of relations shared between European colonists, their descendants and the natives. Also, the relation shared between Wampanoags and the first generation of Pilgrims in Plymouth is emphasized.
There are many people who do not agree with above view. They feel that this is only the half-baked truth, as it no way tells about the long history of subsequent violence and discrimination suffered by Native People across America. They consider any history to be incomplete without the vivid depiction of both the positive and negative aspects. National Day of Mourning is about the sufferings of these Natives in America. The voice of the common was suppressed; they had to suffer from theft of their lands and the destruction of their traditional lifestyle. They sternly believe that on this day, the Americans need to remember the plight the ancestors had gone through.
So while some people believe in bringing out the memory of every sufferings and tortures and pay tribute to the people who underwent them, others still believe that the event of 'First Thanksgiving' should be seen as a vision of goodwill. They stress on the need to revive the respect which existed once, even though for a short span. They believe that there should be dialogues between both the cultures, more voices should come out and there should be debates and discussions to clear out all the misgivings of the past and start a new friendship. They should work towards forgetting the past and building a new future with renewed and strengthened relations.