We may think we know the story of Thanksgiving; the one that depicts the Pilgrims graciously inviting members of the Wampanoag Nation to harmoniously share food to celebrate the first successful harvest after a bleak winter. But the truth and what we really should acknowledge are very different.
Thanksgiving has been restructured to frame all narratives and experiences from the colonizer’s perspective. Since Abraham Lincoln made it a federal holiday in 1863, this period of U.S. history has been transformed into an overly positive, inaccurate and white-washed tale.
Native American life and culture, both historical and contemporary, is so under-represented and inaccurately taught many people in this country believe Indigenous people are extinct. Common false depictions that fuel and perpetuate mythological rendering of the original inhabitants of this country creates space for Native voices to be ignored. We’re under no obligation to acknowledge historical truths; that are extremely significant to another group of people, if our understanding of them is relegated to a minor, erroneous footnote in White American history.
If you want to learn more, please watch the video below.
But how are you supposed to respond when the words used against you have a deep history that is drenched in hundreds of years of atrocious pain, bloodshed, and unspeakable inhumane actions? When those words are meant to attack not only you but are an attempt to silence an entire culture, it becomes something much deeper and exposes a darker mindset that’s still ingrained in our society. | Jamie Nicole Rocha via The Silencing of the Native American
Thanksgiving is a beloved holiday in this country that has evolved to include sharing acts of kindness and gratitude with our family, friends and community. It’s frequently touted as a time to come together, despite our differences and partake in something that shows our collective humanity and care for others; all of which is admirable, worthwhile and should continue to be celebrated. It’s just omitting something …
If thanks are to be given during this holiday, there’s no reason why they can’t honour historical truth and include the Wampanoag. There’s no reason why we can’t extend this to include a land acknowledgement about who originally lived in our local area; and learn about the ongoing impact of settler-colonialism on Native communities.
No matter where you are in North America, you are on indigenous land. And so on this holiday, and any day really, I urge people to explore a deeper connection to what are called “American” foods by understanding true Native-American histories, and begin using what grows naturally around us, and to support Native-American growers. There is no need to make Thanksgiving about a false past. It is so much better when it celebrates the beauty of the present. | Sean Sherman via Time
There is no progress as a society if we’re learning from an inaccurate past; we should want better for ourselves and for the people whose history is often sidelined. The reframing of Thanksgiving to include historical and contemporary Indigenous perspectives is about being thoughtful, open and inclusive; pretty much the tenets set out in the mythological version of the holiday. If we indeed hold to these ideals and don’t manipulate them to virtue signal; it’s time to prepare some room at the table for the truth about Thanksgiving. We’ve held on to the lie for long enough, let’s boldly move beyond it.
If you live in the U.S. or Canada, find out whose land you’re on via the Native Land Map.
Did you know the truth about Thanksgiving? How to you acknowledge and support Indigenous communities?
I want to acknowledge I’m currently living on the traditional territories of the *Kiikaapoi; Meškwahki; Peoria; Bodéwadmiakiwen and Myaamia Peoples. I recognise with gratitude and respect their past, present and future caretaking of this land and wish to fully celebrate and support all Indigenous resiliency, sovereignty and self-determination.
*Pronunciations: Kiikaapoi (KEE-kah-poy) -|- Meškwahki (meh-skw-AH-key) -|- Peoria (pea-OR-ee-ah) -|- Bodéwadmiakiwen (bo-de-wad-mi-ah-ki-wun) -|- Myaamia (me-YAH-me-ah)
What Is Settler-Colonialism via Teaching Tolerance