Over the past few years, I haven’t been as fond of holidays like Thanksgiving or Christmas or really even excited about the time between the beginning of November and January 2nd of the new year. A part of that is that I’m vegetarian and usually get headaches/nauseous at the really potent smell of turkey and other holiday meats. Another is that it’s always dark and cold and windy and very rainy in the Pacific Northwest this time of year and that’s never fun to deal with. All of that combined with family drama because of the parents’ semi-recent divorce has really lead to a general indifference to the winter holidays.
I realize though that for some, days like Thanksgiving and Christmas are very important and there are many traditions. There are plenty of Black Friday Sales and Starbucks Red Cups for excited capitalistic consumers. There’s food, decorations and music which seem to go up as early as possible, tree lighting ceremonies, thanksgiving day parades, and many other things. (Okay so I won’t lie – I really love the tree lighting festivities in the St. John’s neighborhood of Portland, OR but it’s all very steampunk and Dickens.)
But there’s so much about Thanksgiving that we as a whole society (and especially we as white people) don’t address, particularly the violent and genocidal ways we (again white people) have continuously treated the native people and tribes of this land. Yes, for some, Thanksgiving is a day of thanks and being around family and friends. But for others, it’s also day of mourning and one to acknowledge the horrors that Native Americans have had to face since the landing of Europeans centuries ago.
There are so many myths that go to this day of thanks that ignore history and larger contexts, like how the Pilgrims and Native Americans were great fast friends (definitely not true). So today and for the future, I challenge many of you (myself included) to rethink many myths we are taught in school and to learn more about the Native American populations within the United States and the history of Native Americans and the many tribes that exist here. Some places to start include:
- 13 issues facing native people beyond mascots and casinos – Julian Brave NoiseCat
- 4 ways to honor Native Americans without appropriating our culture – Taté Walker
- 4 things your history teacher didn’t know about Native Americans but you should – Taté Walker
- These 4 phenomenal native women will totally make you re-examine your relationship to feminism – Taté Walker
- We can’t ‘get over it’: 4 ways understanding past wrongs can create better indigenous allies – Taté Walker
- 8 big lies history books tell about natives – Vincent Schilling
- Common Native American stereotypes debunked – Shannon Ridgway
- 8 LGBT Native Americans you should know – Heather Purser
- Native Americans: We’re not your mascots – Simon Moya-Smith
- Native American youth: Stop treating our culture like a costume – Rebecca Klein