Thanksgiving is a day to be thankful and to share warm moments and a great meal with family and friends. We’ll at least, that’s what everyone has been taught. Memories of Thanksgiving date back to childhood as early as elementary school. There was great fun in making colorful turkey crafts and learning about pilgrims and Indians. We also learned how they became friends over a big dinner comprised of squash, turkey and corn. The tradition of Thanksgiving is an aged old one. Understandably, it can be quite challenging to explain non-traditional thoughts about the holiday. The message of Thanksgiving is a beautiful and positive message of connection with loved ones and being thankful. However, the real issue comes in not sharing the true history between the European settlers and the Indigenous people.
So What is the Truth Behind Thanksgiving ?
A ship called the Mayflower carrying pilgrims in search of new land. The Pilgrims arrived on land unknown to them around the fall of 1621. A group of Indigenous people known as the Wamponoag befriended the settlers and taught them about their land and crops. Although the first gathering between the Wampanoag and Puritans seemed genuine, a great divide would take place. Eventually, the settlers would dishonor their allegiance and the tribe’s descendants would experience turmoil and death.
How Can We Decolonize Thanksgiving?
After years rooted in tradition, it may seem difficult to explain to the family the truth of the holiday. Let’s start with the obvious. Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be canceled. We can start decolonizing Thanksgiving by caring enough about Indigenous people to learn accurate details of their history. Let’s just be sure to take a moment to take off the rose-colored glasses and acknowledge what actually happened. Next, try to think of ways that your loved ones can research to get a better understanding of this history. With pie in hand, share some ways to support Indigenous people and to keep their history and legacy alive.
Check out some of the organizations and initiatives listed here:
The American Indian College Fund
This is a non-profit organization that is geared towards helping Native American students pursue college and secure scholarships.
An organization that provides legal representation to Native Americans. This organization has a special interest in securing sovereign land and protecting rights of Indigenous tribes.
Native American Agriculture Fund
This organization provides grants, supports Native farmers and ranchers as well as provide agricultural education.
This year, let’s include conversations that will help to decolonize Thanksgiving and honor the Indigenous people.