Danny Reilly and David Pace on the often-overlooked importance of North American Indigenous nations and Jamestown
“Native Americans are centre stage at last in events to mark 400 years since Mayflower”, says your headline (Report, 6 January). If only that were true. The creative arts events in Plymouth involving people from North American Indigenous nations that you mention are indeed a welcome departure from previous Mayflower commemorations. But, regrettably, their important correctives to the traditional colonial narrative are to be marginalised, and the pilgrims’ story is to remain centre stage. This is particularly notable in the sanitised education planning for the commemorations, which started with the opening of the Mayflower Museum in 2015.
Absent is any account of the connection between the New England and Caribbean colonies, crucial to understanding how British colonisation and slavery led to economic success and the creation of the Mayflower story. Also neglected is the establishment in the 17th century of traditions of land seizures, removal, and wars against Indigenous nations in North America that lasted 300 years.