Nearly 400 years after the first Thanksgiving, the Navajo and Hopi are fighting the coal industry for rights to their land.
Nov 22, 2012
(Canadian Press via AP Images)
Five years after the Wampanoag tribe shared a three-day feast of maize, venison, eel, and shellfish with a hapless group of English separatists in Plymouth, Massachusetts, the Dutch governor of New York bought the island of Manhattan from the Canarsie tribe for $24 worth of gold. This week, thousands of New Yorkers will fly out of La Guardia for Thanksgiving, and those fortunate enough to do so in the evening will enjoy a spectacular view of the return on that investment; phosphorescent skyscrapers and over a hundred thousand streetlights trace a real-estate market valued at just under $1 trillion. Nowhere else has the memory of conquest been so thoroughly blotted out, and perhaps as an extension, nowhere else is a history of non-native influx more central to a city’s identity. But the transfer of title is not so complete in many parts of the country. At the Department of the Interior in Washington last week, where a tarpaulin banner on the portico façade encouraged visitors to “Celebrate Native American Heritage Month,” Secretary Ken Salazar commemorated our country’s original occupants in classic fashion: he hosted a land dispute between Native Americans and colonizers.