By Armando Machado – 1851 Staff
Larry Spotted Crow Mann spoke to a crowd of about 50 students and faculty in de Witt Hall on November 18. This was his second time visiting Lasell.
Mann has become an internationally acclaimed author after the success of his recent book, “The Mourning Road to Thanksgiving,” published in 2014. The novel’s popularity has taken Mann to places all over the world including Ice- land, Greenland, Canada, and Sweden.
The book is a contemporary tale of one Native American man’s mission to end Thanksgiving given his animosity towards the pilgrims who came in the 1600s as well as the effects reservations and assimilation have had on Natives as a whole.
Most accounts of Thanksgiving leave out how European settlers took land and drove Native populations down, to the extent where Natives are now only one percent of the U.S. population. The Thanksgiving we grew up learning about is far from the real thing, according to Mann.
Although “The Mourning Road to Thanksgiving” is a novel, it begins with a brief historical background of the events leading up to the first official Thanksgiving to “provide much needed context to the reader,” said Mann.
The first official Thanksgiving in 1863 was used as a way to unify Americans during the Civil War. Mann refers to the “First Unofficial Thanksgiving of 1683” (the one we learn about in elementary school) as “America’s first segregated meal…with Natives on one side and Europeans on the other.”
Mann’s goal is to educate people about Native American history and culture, something he believes should be required in all schools rather than as an elective.
Mann is a member of the Nipmuc Tribe in central Massachusetts. When he’s not touring the world, writing poetry, or performing tribal drumming, he is educating the youth in Massachusetts about drug and alcohol abuse. Mann is also involved in job corps programs across the state.
At one point, the Nipmuc people were thriving with a population of 500,000 peo- ple. Today they have been reduced to a mere 3,000, but Mann is not bitter. “No matter how much the U.S. government tried to take away our culture over the cen- turies, we’re still here,” he said.