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Fifteen thousand years before the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock, these lands were watched over by the Wampanoag, who called themselves Pokanoket. These people followed matrilineal inheritance, with women holding and inheriting property regardless of marital status. They were also matrilocal, with married couples going to live with the woman’s family. Leaders called “sachem” were selected by women elders and both men and women could be chosen.
Pilgrims were colonizing Christian zealots who followed John Calvin’s teachings, one of which was that god’s purpose was to choose only some people for salvation while others were predestined to damnation. This fatalism was in direct opposition to the Wampanoag’s reverence for the Mother Earth.
The settlement of the Pilgrims was not only a religious movement determined to “civilize” the peoples that were already living on these lands but also a capitalist one. A group of English investors called the Merchant Adventurers funded the Mayflower’s voyage with the hopes of profiting from the fur trade, fishing, and any other methods of exploitation. The dual mission of “civilizing” the Indigenous people and capitalizing on their lands and resources resulted in the genocide of the First Peoples.
The settler colonialists rose to become ruling class elites as the colonies expanded to steal the land and resources of the original inhabitants of Turtle Island. In the 1980s, a direct descendant of the Pilgrims known as the Mayflower Madam pimped women out to rich clients. She pled guilty, paid a $5,000 fine, and went on to sign high-paying book and movie deals.
Today, indigenous women are murdered at 10 times the national average in some areas of the country and at least 80% of Native American women have experienced violence. These statistics may not even show the full extent of MIssing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMWIG), as many cities do not keep track of these numbers for indigenous women.
We stand with our Indigenous sisters. We denounce the sex trade as a relic of patriarchal, imperialist capitalism. We fight for a future without exploitation.