Did you know that Thanksgiving is also the National Day of Mourning?
For most, it's a day to give thanks, to be with family, and to take a minute amid the hustle and bustle. Kids in grade schools dress up as Native Americans and Puritans, sitting down to a "feast" at their school, celebrating the coexistence of Native Americans or how they "saved" their white English buddies.
But that's not how it is for everyone, and it doesn't hurt to recognize revisionist, Eurocentric history presented to us in grade school and acknowledge the history behind the day.
For many Native Americans, it's the National Day of Mourning....a day to "reflect on the spirituality of their people and to remember those who were persecuted and murdered. It is also a day to protest the oppression and racism that Native American peoples continue to experience to this very day."
In fact, it was to give thanks at the murder in 1637 of nearly a 1000 Pequot Native Americans during the Pequot uprising in New England.
Governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony declared: “A day of Thanksgiving, thanking God that they had eliminated over 700 men, women and children.” It was signed into law that, “This day forth shall be a day of celebration and thanksgiving for subduing the Pequots.”
To the people that say get over it, move on, it was a long time ago. Be quiet and eat your turkey leg. Let me throw this out there - think of some of the other large-scale attacks in American history. Now picture if history remembered it as fact that terrorist/shooter/etc. x and their victims not only helped one another, but were friends. That the event didn't happen as you remember it. How it *should* be remembered.
So give thanks and enjoy the day with your family, but don't do it under the guise of something it's not. You can be thankful and enjoy your family, but you don't need the fake-ass story or "injun" paraphernalia (coloring books, cut-out "indian headdresses," the Native American salt & pepper shakers, etc.) to do it.
And if you have kids, look at it as the chance to change the way you talk to them about history and correct misunderstandings about history/Thanksgiving in general. American Indians in Children's Literature (AICL) has some recommendations on age-appropriate books from the Native American perspective that can be found here. Highly recommend the list.
Most of all, though, be respectful of the fact that not everyone is going to be celebrating. Because it's not over for indigenous peoples - they are still marginalized, their voices unheard, and treaties ignored. Just look at the Keystone Oil Spill.
It's not about being perfect, but it's about recognizing injustices for what they are and not ignoring them because it's inconvenient.
For my own part going forward, whenever I post pics of an area I hiked, I'm going to try and include what Native American tribes were the original stewards of the land.
Because people, and their stories, matter. And that we remember matters.
What will you incorporate or change going forward? Comment below or email me here.