Thanksgiving today is fraught with its past and the reckoning that is still to come in many ways.
For those of us who grew up in non-Christian households, Thanksgiving was and is the great equalizer. We can all celebrate it without the religious baggage and without not fitting in. We gather as a family, we express our gratitude and our love, and it’s the one day of the year that nearly everyone has the day off, at least until a couple of years ago when retailers began to open on Thanksgiving Day.
There are of course exceptions, but it is a day for everyone.
Of course, that is also not the entire story. From the Native American prospective, settlers coming to the new world caused trauma beyond belief. We are only beginning to open up and discuss and educate ourselves to be inclusive, but also to move forward as a country.
While I believe the original Thanksgiving story despite knowing its clear embelllishments, I think it’s important to distinguish between the Columbus and future expeditions’ theft of land and genocide and that early settlers and Native Indians, as they were known at the time, did work together, and to celebrate the help that the Native Peoples gave to the Pilgrims should be recognized. The Pilgrims, and other Native-friendly settlers wouldn’t have survived the new world without the help of the indigenous people already living here.
Here are two ways to begin educating ourselves:
Native American Tribal Map
Thirty Everyday Phrases that Perpetuate the Oppression of Indigenous Peoples