YouTube used Thanksgiving as an opportunity to scold Americans for how indigenous peoples were treated historically.
“For Indigenous and Native Americans, the fourth Thursday of November is dedicated to Indigenous history, activism, and resistance,” the official Twitter account of YouTube wrote. “It’s called Unthanksgiving.”
“Unthanksgiving is about acknowledging, educating, and honoring centuries of Indigenous resistance,” the Google-owned company explained. “Coinciding with New England’s National Day of Mourning, Unthanksgiving activates Alcatraz Island, the site of a 19-month occupation by Bay Area Natives in 1969.”
Unthanksgiving is about acknowledging, educating, and honoring centuries of Indigenous resistance. Coinciding with New England’s National Day of Mourning, Unthanksgiving activates Alcatraz Island, the site of a 19-month occupation by Bay Area Natives in 1969. pic.twitter.com/G3FUlz0WdU
— YouTube (@YouTube) November 26, 2020
“For generations, Native Americans and Indigenous persons have shared their experiences, using Unthanksgiving as an opportunity for intergenerational and intercultural dialogue,” YouTube continued.
“Generations before have lived on these lands. Days like Unthanksgiving are opportunities for learning and understanding whose land you live on,” the company added.
Unthanksgiving is about honoring Native American and Indigenous heritage, to better understand this history. How are you connected to – and connecting with – Indigenous heritage and history where you live? pic.twitter.com/rDuk06BDtN
— YouTube (@YouTube) November 26, 2020
Unthanksgiving Day, which has been held annually since 1975, coincides with the National Day of Mourning, a similar protest that has been held since 1970 in Massachusetts.
According to the book “Indians of North America: Alcatraz,” which was published in 1995:
The nineteen-month occupation of Alcatraz Island that began on November 20, 1969 is a watershed in the American Indian protest and activist movement. Prior to this event, Indian activism was generally tribal in nature, centered in small geographic areas, and focused on specific issues such as illegal trespass on Indian lands or violation of Indian treaty rights for access to traditional hunting and fishing sites. The Alcatraz occupation brought together hundreds of Indian people who came to live on the island and thousands more who identified with the call for self-determination, autonomy, and respect for Indian culture.
Today, the Alcatraz occupation is recognized as the springboard for the rise of Indian activism that began in 1969 and continued into the late 1970s, as evidence by the large number of occupations that occurred shortly after the November 20, 1969 landing. These occupations continued through the BIA headquarters takeover in 1972, Wounded Knee II in 1973, and the June 26, 1975 shootout between American Indian Movement members and Federal Bureau of Investigation agents on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Alcatraz was the catalyst for this new activism as it became more organized and more “pan-Indian.” Many of the approximately seventy-four occupations of federal facilities and private lands that followed Alcatraz were either planned by or included people who had been involved in the occupation of the island.
The Indian people who organized the occupation and those who participated either by living on the island or working to solicit donations of money, water, food, or electrical generators, came from all walks of life. Some, like Richard Oakes and LaNada Boyer, were college students trying to better themselves and Indian people through education. Others, such as Adam (Nordwall) Fortunate Eagle, Dorothy Lonewolf Miller, and Stella Leach, had relocated to the Bay Area and were successful in their own businesses or careers. As the occupation gained international attention, Indian people came from Canada, from South America, and from Indian reservations across the United States to show support for those who had taken a stand against the federal government. Thousands came; some stayed, and others carried the message home to their reservations that Alcatraz was a clarion call for the rise of Red Power.
As of publication, YouTube’s initial tweet is ratioed, and the comments are almost universally negative.
Author James Lindsay tweeted a warning sign with the caption: “This claim about entire populations being activists by default is disputed. Learn more about how people, even members of ‘oppressed’ groups, can think for themselves.”
Australian commentator and writer Rita Panahi applauded Lindsay’s tweet.
— Rita Panahi (@RitaPanahi) November 27, 2020
YouTuber Benjamin Boyce decided to update his “woke calendar.”
Guess I gotta update the Woke Calendar. I was pretty close on the first draft tho. pic.twitter.com/XrNe5AWjK4
— 𝖡𝖾𝗇𝗃𝖺𝗆𝗂𝗇𝖡𝗈𝗒𝖼𝖾 (@BenjaminABoyce) November 27, 2020
User @Miss_Maggie6 blasted YouTube, suggesting they speak about the oppression of Uyghurs in communist China come Chinese New Year.
Hey YouTube talk about the Uyghur genocide during Chinese New Year next.
— Maggie (@Miss_Maggie6) November 26, 2020
And podcast host and writer Spencer Klavan simply said: “Lol nah.”
— Klavan Squarebeard, first of his name (@SpencerKlavan) November 26, 2020
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