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Thanksgiving and Indigenous People: Dana Anyone?

Susan and I went to our first Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2010 at Plymouth Massachusetts. Actually, there were two parades; the first was the traditional rendering of the Pilgrims' Thanksgiving.

The second was a march by the Wampanoag tribe of New England whose ancestors greeted these Pilgrims. What became very apparent was the two views of the historical event of 1620 and the aftermath varied.

This lead me to the question of relationships of people who are here, and people who come here from there. That is, we are all newcomers to where we are. Imagine going back to “Lucy," our prototypical ancestor from Africa and following her journey. Her first band of proto-humans added new members, and some stayed in one place and some went to others. Over thousands of years this migration led to certain regions being settled while other groups passed through these regions in migrations. This meant people were always bumping into each other. Migration is movement while in-migration is stopping in a new place and out-migration is choosing to leave a particular local for another.

Let’s continue to imagine… overtime relationships were formed with those coming in, staying, and going out. One could say that these relationships, when positive, represented equitable give and take of "good" needed to survive while supplying availability mates extend both groups. This social bonding was effective for survival.

As time marched along there were more settlements and more distance between settlements and groups migrating further decided to stay in places that were suited to their needs. There were issues of the people already there and how to co-exist, an on-going social issue of our time

The issue is the merging of newcomers with the settled population. A movie that captures such a historical scene is The Gangs of New York.,or%20the%20desire%20for%20revenge.

The book and movie address gangs divided in parts of the city with each gang representing old groups from different countries versus people born in the U.S. This was a microcosm of war within the broader picture of The American Civil War. While at the same time Native Americans were being displaced to the “Indian Territories” west of the Mississippi River, and slaves from the South were taking the Underground Railroad to Canada.

We are all travelers with our tickets from place of origin on the way to the promised land. The Pilgrims thankful to have landed safe in a new world and the “natives” wondering what these people will do to their settled way of life.

As practitioners we approach each moment as an awakening, a constant newcomer with our ticket punched by years of stopping and going we plod the happy road of destiny. The migration routes and length of stay in various locations vary.

We are all indigenous-wanders. I believe that is why storytelling is our holy grail. It is in the sutra/tale, that we chronicle living the Dharma. When we pause in our actions we celebrate or tell stories. Susan, dog Bailey and I drove to our older daughter’s house and back (2500 miles) between Tuesday and Sunday with even more stories to tell!

How do we give thanks? By tip? By praise? By steading support? By being truthful? By pardoning two turkeys? By what form of demonstration?

Please join us Tuesday night at the First Congregational Church of Falmouth, or on Zoom:

Password: FSZS

We’ll explore the practice of Dana or heart-felt giving.

Thankful for Sangha


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Falmouth Soto Zen Sangha Monthly Calendar JUNE 2024

Zoom: Password FSZS Dokusan with Sangaku-sensei by appointment •Remember Each Morning Zazen (30 min. then talk) on


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