Tag Archive: Native Americans


A bit ago I posted the article “The Birthday of Free Government?” in which I briefly summarized how the Declaration of Independence helped popularize the ideas of democracy, constitutional restraint, and limited government. Indeed, these ideas of freedom have spread globally. However – that freedom has not been, and still is not, implemented equally even in my own country. I referenced this in the previous article, and I want to unpack that more. I had suspected that I glossed over the deeply problematic references to slavery and indigenous people, and feedback from a friend as well as consultation of a couple articles confirmed this. So let me unpack this.

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245 years ago, some British men in colonial North America formally declared that they no longer wished to be tied to Britain but rather stand on their own as a separate and equally sovereign power. For over a century, new ideas about limited government, government ruled by the people, and government constrained by constitutions had developed on both sides of the Atlantic. For example, in the Five (and later Six) Nations of the Haudenosaunee in Eastern North America; in Ireland, Scotland, England, and Wales in the British Isles in Europe; and in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in Central and Eastern Europe. With the United States Declaration of Independence, these ideas took on even greater power and effected global change. People and countries all over the world aspire now to be “free.” Below you can follow the link to a transcription of the Declaration. I don’t agree with all of what was said, especially the derogatory reference to indigenous people (some of whom were the source to much of the revolutionary spirit in the first place) and the complaint about Britain instigating slave rebellions (a hypocritical complaint given that the United States was rebelling against a government that it believed was oppressive). Yet the impact of this document cannot be denied, and since its creation and announced people the world over have striven and fought for better and more consistent implementation of the ideas it espouses. Happy Fourth of July to my US readers!

http://www.ushistory.org/declaration/document/

Last week, I introduced the history of Thanksgiving in the United States. Since the first Thanksgiving has, retrospectively, been applied to the 1621 harvest festival celebrated by the Pilgrims, I’ve been exploring that history. Last week, I gave an overview of what is modern-day New England in the 1600s from the perspective of the Native Americans, particularly the Wampanoag. Today, I will look at the history of the Pilgrim Fathers, their intersection with the Wampanoag, and what is credited as the first Thanksgiving.

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It is the year 1620. Along the coasts of what are now Canada and New England, busy settlements sprawl across the beaches and estuaries. They, like the water that laps against them are fluid, ever changing, as villages ebb and flow like the tide. Borders are well-defined, but constantly in flux. It is a centuries old vibrant network of small communities bound in trade and cultural exchange, managed by capable leaders called sachems.
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