Unthanksgiving Day, also known as National Day of Mourning or Indigenous Peoples Sunrise Ceremony, is commemorated on the fourth Thursday in November. This year, it takes place on November 23. This annual event takes place on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay to honor the indigenous peoples of America and promote their rights. Did you know that this day coincides with Thanksgiving Day? Yes, organizers chose the fourth Thursday of November with an intent to coincide with Thanksgiving Day.
History of Unthanksgiving Day
Most of us are aware of the Thanksgiving Day that falls on the fourth Thursday of November every year. However, not many of us know about the Unthanksgiving Day that falls on the same day. It also coincides with the National Day of Mourning in Massachusetts.
This day is seen as a counter-celebration to Thanksgiving Day designed to honor the Native Americans and promote their rights. It recalls indigenous people’s survival following European colonization of the Americas and celebrates their perseverance and resistance over time.
The history of Unthanksgiving Day is an interesting one. Indigenous people began seeking to reclaim Alcatraz Island shortly after the prison was closed in 1963. On November 20, 1969, a group of Native Americans occupied the island of Alcatraz in San Francisco which lasted for 19 months. The Treaty of Fort Laramie/Sioux Treaty of 1868 was used to claim the island.
During this period of 19 months, several indigenous Americans joined the civil rights movement and expressed their concerns, until they were forcefully removed by the United States Government on June 11, 1971.
The International Treaty Council and American Indian Contemporary Arts together hosted the first Unthanksgiving Day on November 27, 1975. The organizers picked Thanksgiving Day to commemorate Unthanksgiving Day in order to remind people of the losses that Indians had to endure as a result of Europeans. Today, Alcatraz Island is open to the public and tourists visit it regularly to watch the sunrise, speak for indigenous rights, and to celebrate their heritage.
Unthanksgiving Day timeline
The Treaty of Fort Laramie is signed by the U.S.
Native Americans begin to occupy Alcatraz Island.
The occupation of Alcatraz Island is ended by the U.S.
The International Treaty Council and American Indian Contemporary Arts organize the first Unthanksgiving Day.
Unthanksgiving Day FAQs
Where do Native Indians come from?
The ancestors of the living Native Americans arrived in America from Asia 15,000 years ago.
Why do we call Native Americans Indians?
During the 15th century when Christopher Columbus landed on the American continent, he thought he landed in India. So, he referred to the indigenous tribes as Native Indians, and that struck on.
What are the main indigenous groups in the Americas?
According to the U.S. government, there are two main indigenous groups in the U.S. They are Native Americans and Alaska Natives.
How to Observe Unthanksgiving Day
Support their voices
Supporting native people's voices and rights is a great way to remember this day. You can also contribute to their cause in any way you can.
The suffering endured by the indigenous people cannot be expressed in words and is not known to many people. You can use this day to help others understand their history and sufferings.
You can visit Alcatraz Island on Unthanksgiving Day. Join thousands of people there to mourn for the fallen native people and can also take part in the celebrations.
5 Mind-Blowing Facts About Indigenous Peoples
There were female warriors
Apart from supporting their male counterparts by cooking, sewing, and taking care of camp, they also rode and fought alongside men.
Teepees and other houses
Unlike what we see in the movies, Indian Tribes not only lived in teepees, they also lived in longhouses and pueblos.
2% of the population
As of 2019, 2% of the U.S. population identifies as American Indians or Alaska natives.
574 is the number
As of January 2021, there are 574 federally recognized American Indian tribes.
Only 0.4% of businesses
As of 2018, only 0.4% of U.S. businesses are owned by American Indians and Alaska Natives.
Why Unthanksgiving Day is Important
It honors indigenous people
Although many lives were lost in the bravery, it still stands as an important piece of the history of the world. It is observed as a remembrance of the suffering of the Native Indians.
It is a meaningful day
Although not many people know about this day, Unthanksgiving Day is one of the meaningful days that one can observe in the year.
It teaches us about life
The whole purpose of observing this day is to teach the modern citizens of America about the suffering that people have gone through in the history of building the nation. Learn all you can today.
Unthanksgiving Day dates