Thanksgiving is right around the corner. The holiday is, for many, a great excuse to spend time with family. However, for some, it’s a time to reflect and mourn a painful history and legacy of colonialism.
Whatever the case is for you, it’s a good idea to learn the truth behind Thanksgiving, how the struggle for indigenous rights continues today, and what you can do to support that struggle.
1. Get your Thanksgiving history right
The history of Thanksgiving that’s taught in schools couldn’t be further from the truth. Read up on the true history and why it’ important to understand in this article in Truthout.
Here’s an excerpt:
While glossing over the very real consequences of colonialism, the mythical version of Thanksgiving creates a fairytale of land theft, betrayal, brutality, and genocide, virtually functioning to erase the very real and traumatic experiences of entire indigenous nations. This phenomena of whitewashing and outright erasure of indigenous history, in many instances, is not only inhumane and oppressive to the indigenous people, but it is also unfair to all Americans who stand to learn from rich and equally tragic history.
2. Recognize the National Day of Mourning
The National Day of Mourning was started by the United Native Americans of New England and supporters in 1970 as a day of remembrance and a way to protest the marginalization of Native Americans. The yearly march and community potluck serves anyone who wants to join. You can find out more about the National Day of Mourning on the UAINE website.
3. Understand how the myth was made
Here’s an interesting narrative of how the story of Thanksgiving came to be, as told by our friends at The Center for Story Based Strategy (CSS). The CSS offers a critical analysis of the popular story of Thanksgiving within the framework of a greater social context. You can also find some useful links to organizations that support indigenous rights.
4. Support the continued struggle
The Native American struggle for justice continues today. Though the president greenlit the Dakota Access Pipeline in January after a huge activist effort, native communities don’t feel defeated and are continuing to organize on reservations. Find out whose native lands you live on, and then see if there is a local indigenous group that is requesting a land tax and pay it – like the Shuumi Land Tax in the East Bay in California.
5. Know how to talk with relatives
Want to know how to talk about politics around the dinner table? Here’s an article about how to engage with your relatives who are more conservative.
It’s our responsibility to go home and have the hard conversations with our family members, because, in many cases, only we have the power to reach them and begin the long work of rooting out bigotry in our communities.
Get stuck? Showing Up for Racial Justice has a Text Hotline and Talking Guide for when those difficult conversations take a turn for the more challenging.