The Thanksgiving that we grew up learning about in elementary school is, to put it plainly, revisionist history and propaganda for the ways in which the United States has continuously oppressed Native people.
Beyond the years-long gaps in the timeline of Thanksgiving, and the fact that it’s unclear if Native Americans were even invited to such a feast, this narrative of “peace between colonizers and Native people” has attempted to bridge all other atrocities that colonizers and subsequently the American government has put native people through. These include, and are far from limited to, the “Mystic massacre,” which was the genocide of Pequot people in 1637 during the Pequot War, President Andrew Jackson’s decades-long Trail of Tears, during which thousands of Native people died during a forced relocation, and, most recently, the commandeering of Standing Rock Indian Reservation land and the injury and arrest of hundreds of water protectors during the Dakota Access Pipeline protests.
Yes, Americans should continue to feel shameful, at the very least, and propelled to support Native communities for the ways in which the government has treated, and continues to treat, them. And this Thanksgiving, as you make a plate of comfort food commemorating a completely fake holiday, maybe you can take some time to think about the ways in which you can support Native people, or at the very least, recognize that you’re celebrating to the detriment of thousands of people who continue to be oppressed today.
1) Brush up on how you can inform kids (aka impressionable children) about the real meaning behind Thanksgiving
This PBS NewsHour feature seems to be a solid launching point that covers how educators are re-educating themselves about relations between colonists and Native Americans (aside from the revisionist history fake-Hawaiian-shirt-wearing asshole in the middle of the clip who seems to think that Japanese concentration camps were Not That Bad).
2) Donate to organizations that benefit Native Americans
Such organizations include the American Indian College Fund, a nonprofit scholarship fund, and the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women, which provides support to Native women and children who experience domestic violence, assault, trafficking, and more in New Mexico’s tribal communities.
3) Stop patting sports teams on the back for doing the bare minimum when it comes to using Native people as racist mascots
Yes, the Cleveland Indians are “phasing out” that racist cartoon Chief Wahoo from its team logos. Yes, they’ll still be selling a “limited amount” of merchandise with Wahoo in order to keep the trademark. No, they do not get a cookie to accomplishing absolutely nothing.
4) Support attendees of the National Day of Mourning
Each year, hundreds of Native Americans attend the decades-old annual event in Plymouth, Massachusetts, in memory of Pequot people who were killed in the Mystic massacre. This year, the Day of Mourning is dedicated to the “thousands of relatives who are migrants” taken into Immigration and Customs Enforcement, who have suffered abuse while in custody. The 49th annual event will take place at 12 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 22.