And Not Just because Turkey is Dry
Thanksgiving is by far my least favorite holiday. February has valentines day, a day all about love, couples, relationships, flowers and chocolate. April has easter which includes the iconic easter egg hunt, easter baskets, and Cadbury Eggs. December has the king of Holidays, Christmas. Then their is Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving has turkeys.
All I am saying is, one of those holidays sounds a lot less exciting then the others. The only thing that Thanksgiving has going for it a big meal with people you care about and a week off of school. However, everything that Thanksgiving does, Christmas can do better.
Christmas has a big meal with family, that typically consist of an almost identical food layout complete with pies, a honeyed ham, rolls, mashed potatoes, etc. You get way more then just a few days off of school, you can usually get at least two weeks, if not a month, and you get to give and receive gifts.
However, there is a very real, significantly more serious reason to have a dislike for Thanksgiving. there is of course, the elephant in the room that is the terrible history our country has when it comes to the treatment of Native Americans, or more aptly put, how white settlers systematically stole their land, infected there people with disease, burned there villages, among many other crimes. And yet for some reason, we all forget about that on Thanksgiving in favor of endorsing a sanitized version of events that what settlers and native people got along.
Many point to the colonists at Plymouth as the first Thanksgiving. However, some historians wonder if there are meals shared by native people and the incoming Europeans that predate that initial meal. We should as a country celebrate people coming together, in the spirit of generosity, to bless and be thankful for one another. I believe that.
However, I think we forget the reality that after this first thanksgiving, when the chiefs son, Metacomet, came to power there was a bloody battle that cost many people their lives. Metacomet was killed, dismembered, and his head put on display for 25 years. That doesn’t seem like something we should be glossing over, or something to be celebrating.
Even if you move forward in history, our country has an stolen native children and put them in boarding schools where there was rampant physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. They were prohibited from speaking their native languages and given Christian names. If that doesn’t bother you, then I will remind you of the graveyards found around boarding schools like these in the US and Canada.
The government has stolen native children and put then up for adoption to white families. That’s why we have Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). All of this on top of a long history of Massacres and broken treaties.
Take this Thanksgiving to mediate on the history of how native people have been treated in our nation and the real issue facing this minority today. Here are just a few issues faced by native communities currently in our country. Native women go missing an murdered at alarming rates with thousands of native women missing today and no one is looking for them. Native women are significantly more likely to experience sexual violence. Native women experience the same rates of violence in cities as they do on reservations. The cost of groceries can sky rocket on reservations which only contributes to food insecurity that these communities often face. 36% of families with children on reservations are below the poverty line.
As we sit at our thanksgiving tables packed with food and surrounded by our families, we should not be quick to forget how many Native American families are missing mothers, sisters, daughters, and grandmothers. As we load our plates full of food, let us not forget that the very people we started this tradition with live in food deserts without access to the same variety of foods available in American cities.