As a woman of color and as an American, I realize that some holidays just work to mythologize a past that I can’t be really proud of. Thanksgiving in the US is one example, of course. I still think, however, you can be thankful and reflective (after all, this is really what the day is about: acknowledging our pasts) without candy-coating our national history. So, some linkage below!
What is it about the story of “The First Thanksgiving” that makes it essential to be taught in virtually every grade from preschool through high school? What is it about the story that is so seductive? Why has it become an annual elementary school tradition to hold Thanksgiving pageants, with young children dressing up in paper-bag costumes and feather-duster headdresses and marching around the schoolyard? Why is it seen as necessary for fake “pilgrims” and fake “Indians” (portrayed by real children, many of whom are Indian) to sit down every year to a fake feast, acting out fake scenarios and reciting fake dialogue about friendship? And why do teachers all over the country continue (for the most part, unknowingly) to perpetuate this myth year after year after year?
We offer these myths and facts to assist students, parents and teachers in thinking critically about this holiday, and deconstructing what we have been taught about the history of this continent and the world.
“Do Indians Celebrate Thanksgiving?” Simon Moya-Smith, Oglala Lakota Sioux, answers the question in this video response:
Looking to connect with more Natives online? Why not check out the Indian Country Today Media Network?
Or, for fellower Tumblr-ers, here is a list of indigenous folks there.
And, for the charitable, in addition to supporting your local food pantry, have you thought about contributing to the American Indian College Fund?
The American Indian College Fund transforms Indian higher education by funding and creating awareness of the unique, community-based accredited Tribal Colleges and Universities, offering students access to knowledge, skills, and cultural values which enhance their communities and the country as a whole. The Fund disburses approximately 6,000 scholarships annually for American Indian students seeking to better their lives through higher education.