Thursday, November 24, 2016

Jerry Brown's Official Thanksgiving Proclamation

This is the main text of Gov. Jerry Brown's Thanksgiving Proclamation for 2016:

The first Thanksgiving in 1621 was a celebration of the harvest that brought together the Pilgrims of Plymouth Plantation and the Native Americans who helped them adapt to their new environment. Over the years Thanksgiving became an American tradition and one of the first holidays we celebrated as a free and independent nation. In 1789, George Washington proclaimed the first Thanksgiving observance in the newly formed United States of America, writing that "it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor."

Thanksgiving has continued to be one of our most cherished observances, a day to join with family and friends and feast on traditional delicacies from roasted turkey to pumpkin pie, and commemorate the joining of the Old World and the New that brought about that First Thanksgiving long ago.

It is most fitting that we set aside a special day for gratitude. As Americans, we have every reason to give thanks for the wonderful bounty of our land, the strength of our fellow citizens and our system of government that protects our basic freedoms.
He has used the same Thanksgiving Proclamation language each year since 2011.

But it's not that Jerry has a Pollyanish view of the history of the Native Americans and the late-coming immigrants from Europe. From his Proclamation of Native American Day of 09/23/2016:

California has been home to human beings for more than 12,000 years, with the presence of European-Americans representing only a tiny fraction of this time. The first Europeans to arrive in California encountered hundreds of thousands of people organized into hundreds of distinct tribal groups. They flourished in the bountiful hills and valleys of what someday would be called California.

The contact between these first Californians and successive waves of newcomers over the three succeeding centuries was marked by the utter devastation of the native peoples, their families and entire way of life. The colonial regimes of Spain and Mexico through disease and enforced servitude cut the indigenous population by more than half. Then the Gold Rush came, and with it, a wave of new diseases and wanton violence which reduced the Native population again, this time by more than 80 percent. The newborn State of California actually paid for the killing of Native peoples and tolerated or encouraged policies of warfare, slavery and relocation that left no tribe intact. In his 1851 address to the Legislature, our first Governor, Peter Burnett, famously stated, “That a war of extermination will continue to be waged between the two races until the Indian race becomes extinct, must be expected.”

In spite of Burnett’s prediction, California today is home to the largest population of Native Americans in the fifty states, including both the rebounding numbers of our native tribes and others drawn to the Golden State by its myriad opportunities. The success of tribal businesses and the presence today of tribal members in all walks of life stand as testament to the resilience and indomitable spirit of native peoples. If Governor Burnett could not envision a future California that included Native Americans, it is just as impossible for us today to envision one without them.
He signed legislation in 2014 establishing "Native American Day" as a state holiday in California. This year's Proclamation was the same as in 2014 and 2015. In previous years starting with his first year as Governor (for the second time in his career) in 2011, he also proclaimed the Columbus Day holiday as "Native American Day." He's used the same Proclamation language each year except 2011:

WHEREAS, Native Americans were the first human inhabitants of the land that is now the State of California, and have lived here continuously for at least 12,000 years;

WHEREAS, Native American traditions of stewardship and conservation have shaped and preserved the landscapes of our state and continent;

WHEREAS, the songs, dances, arts, and crafts of Native Americans are among the world’s great cultural treasures;

WHEREAS, Native American traditions were influential in the formation of American democracy;

WHEREAS, Native Americans have preserved their distinct cultural traditions in the face of overwhelming odds and persistent injustice;

WHEREAS, in spite of this tragic history, Native Americans have been generous citizens of the United States, serving our country in peace and war;

WHEREAS, California today has more Native Americans living within its borders than any other state;

NOW THEREFORE I, EDMUND G. BROWN JR., Governor of the State of California, do hereby proclaim September 22, 2011, as “Native American Day.”

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