Monday, November 25, 2019

Start writing a different Thanksgiving tale

By now, we should all know that the nice nice Pilgrim and Indian story we were taught as little kids is definitely not accurate and is far more complex. The Pilgrims did not call themselves such, they were separatists; neither their history nor the Wampanoag oral tradition records an invitation to share a meal in thanks for helping the Pilgrims harvest; they did not intentionally set out to have a Thanksgiving - this was not even a holiday until after the Civil War. In between that meal we're taught about and the formalization of the holiday, there was of the slaughter of the natives; taking their land, way of life, food sources, scalps, culture, freedom, etc; and the government thrust them into poverty and disease, ignoring treaties, etc. The US government and non-native people track record with indigenous people continued being absolute crap after the Civil War through today, still making land grabs and shitting on sacred spaces, the culture, and people that remain.

Thankgiving is no longer about that initial meal or the feel good colonizer/native story we do not deserve - for most of us it's about food and gratitude and love and appreciation. I love Thanksgiving and it is my favorite, but for me to enjoy celebrating Thanksgiving with a clear heart also means acknowledging its origins and the abuses that came after, not glorifying this storied initial meal while ignoring how native people were treated in this country. We can’t change the past or what others have done, but we can move forward in truth.

Write your Thanksgiving story as a tale of love and family, appreciation and friendship, the most succulent turkey imaginable, the legend of the largest pies in the land, elastic waistbands, good cheer, and yes, also write about how it actually was and is for Native Americans in this country beyond that trumped up feast - write the truth for yourselves and your kids in an age appropriate way, and push your story beyond this day and this meal: talk about colonization, demand our schools teach actual history and not a softened version that makes white colonizers and the US Government look nice, learn more about native history and customs, and make charitable donations when you can to organizations that do good work in the native community. In 2019, most of us have personally done nothing against native Americans, but most of us haven’t done anything for them either. But we sure have felt the upswing of being the culture that was not brutalized and pushed to within an inch of existence, so wake up, make up, eat up, and pay up. Slide a little of that holiday shopping money to a good cause that benefits native people and if you know of native owned businesses, patronize them.

Here are some suggestions - if you have others, please post them in the comments below.

Adopt-a-Native Elder Program - Supporting the elders who live in the Navajo reservation with medicine, food, clothing, yarn, and fabric. See on Charity Navigator

The Native American Heritage Association - dedicated to helping Native Americans living on tribal reservations in South Dakota, supporting the Sioux people through medical, food, fuel, and clothing programs. See on Charity Navigator

First Nations Development Institute - Donations strengthen Native American communities & economies. See on Charity Navigator

The Native American Rights Fund - the oldest and largest nonprofit law firm dedicated to asserting and defending the rights of the Indian tribes, organizations, and individuals nationwide, concentrated in five areas: the preservation of tribal existence, the protection of tribal natural resources, the promotion of Native American human rights, the accountability of state and federal governments to Native Americans, and the development of Indian law and education the public about Indian rights, laws, and issues. See on Charity Navigator

Happy Monday - I'm still weekending out here on Lenape Land. TWTW tomorrow. TTFN!

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