“Sand People?” No…They’re Tusken Americans.
I don’t have much to say about Thnaksgiving, in general. Last year, DC Comics gave us that weird “Batsgiving” image that was full of posting mileage, but not so much this year. Go figure. Still, today is the very American holiday of Thanksgiving, where families across the nation declare a unified war on very specific kinds of poultry.
So…a moment of cynical history here. Although by the early 19th Century Thanksgiving was a holiday celebrated in most states, the fixing of the date had a straight up political agenda. Not once, but twice. in the first instance, the final Thursday in November had become the customary date in most U.S. states. Not the Fourth Thursday, people. Pay attention. Thanksgiving was first celebrated on the same date by all states in 1863 by a presidential proclamation of Abraham Lincoln. Influenced by the campaigning of author Sarah Josepha Hale, who wrote letters to politicians for around 40 years trying to make it an official holiday, Lincoln proclaimed the date to be the final Thursday in November in an attempt to foster a sense of American unity between the Northern and Southern states. Not such a great plan, Mr. Lincoln.
Later, on December 26, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a joint resolution of Congress changing the national Thanksgiving Day from the last Thursday in November to the fourth Thursday. Two years earlier, Roosevelt had used a presidential proclamation to try to achieve this change, reasoning that earlier celebration of the holiday would give the country an economic boost. You know, to create a tangible and uninterrupted season of gross consumerism leading right up until Christmas with one more possible week therein. The current zoo like environment at the mall? Thank Mr. Roosevelt.
Also, in modern times the President of the United States, in addition to issuing a proclamation, will “pardon” a turkey, which spares the bird’s life and ensures that it will spend the duration of its life roaming freely on farmland. Because of course, this is a far better use of Mr. Obama’s time than setting up some kind of coherent foreign policy, or making head or tails of the health care laws.
“The reason that we have so many myths associated with Thanksgiving is that it is an invented tradition. It doesn’t originate in any one event. It is based on the New England puritan Thanksgiving, which is a religious Thanksgiving, and the traditional harvest celebrations of England and New England and maybe other ideas like commemorating the pilgrims. All of these have been gathered together and transformed into something different from the original parts.”–James W. Baker, Senior Historian at Plimoth Plantation
That was a pretty good quote, that boils down the origins of Thanksgiving to something pretty simple. Everything we know about the first Thanksgiving is drawn from only two written records: Edward Winslow’s “Mourt’s Relation” and William Bradford’s “Of Plimouth Plantation.” Neither of the accounts is very detailed and certainly not enough to conjecture the modern tale of Pilgrims having a Thanksgiving meal to thank the Indians for their help that we are so familiar with. Harvest celebrations had been practiced for eons in Europe as thanksgiving ceremonials had been for Native Americans, so it’s clear that the concept of Thanksgiving was not new to either group.
So…that’s a thing.
About the lead artwork, with the Tusken Americans. It struck me that the Tuskens are treated pretty @#$% poorly by any of the white people that have colonized their planet, and farm it for moisture. Seriously, people named Skywalker have a nasty habit of murdering large numbers of them (Episode II) or looking for them at night to shoot at, using a high powered rifle and macrobinoculars (Episode IV). What we haven’t seen is any real evidence of the Tusken being anything other than…I dunno…the NATIVES of Tatooine, and observing their tribal culture.
You know…the tribal culture that Kenobi, the sage of the story, is familiar with, understands, and seems to respect to a degree. Just saying. As an allegory for the poor treatment of Native Americans, the Tuskens hold up VERY well.
Something to chew on with our turkey.
Have a nice holiday, True Believers!
Next Issue: The Modala Imperative!