“Was your great-grandmother a Cherokee princess like mine? You can kind of see it in my cheekbones."
So launches the latest episode of Ask a Slave, the YouTube comedy series by comedian Azie Mira Dungey, an actress who spent two years playing a slave at George Washington’s plantation, Mount Vernon. So many absurd questions were posed to Dungey as she portrayed Caroline Branham, who “belonged” to Washington back in the 1700s, that she created the character of Lizzie May, “personal housemaid to president and Lady Washington,” as she puts it in her intro. “And I'm here to answer all of your questions.”
The episode posted on November 24 deals, fittingly, with Thanksgiving.
"I know you're a slave, but what about the Indians?” asks the aforementioned man whom Lizzie May dubs “Cheekbones.” “Do you know any?"
Luckily, she does.
"Well I don't know why y'all keep bringing up Indians,” says Lizzie May, after fielding a few Thanksgiving questions. “But it's a good thing I happen to have my dear friend Red Jacket here with me today."
Enter the Seneca leader Otetiani Sagoyewatha (which Lizzie can’t pronounce), using the English moniker given him for fighting on their side during the Revolutionary War. What ensues is not unlike the queries recounted last summer by a staffer at the information kiosk at the Montreal First Nations Festival in Montreal.
Washington, of course, did not ask questions; he merely instructed his generals to decimate the indigenous population, “lay waste all the settlements around...that the country may not be merely overrun, but destroyed.”
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Just 10 years earlier he had condemned the slaughter of three Indians by settlers.
Back in 1621, the real “First Thanksgiving” may have stemmed from more of a misunderstanding than anything else, as it’s depicted in the museum at Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
Without more ado, we bring you the Thanksgiving episode of Ask A Slave.