As we get ready to gather around tables laden with turkey and trimmings, celebrating with family and friends, we must acknowledge the overlooked history that delves into the complexities and lesser-known aspects of this Thanksgiving’s origins.
The Real History of Thanksgiving
When it comes to the history of Thanksgiving, generations of Americans have been taught a one-sided history.
The popular narrative of Thanksgiving commemorates the peaceful, friendly meeting of English settlers and the Wampanoag tribe for three days of feasting and thanksgiving in 1621.
However, this narrative directly ignores the pain and history that has followed Indigenous peoples since the colonization of their land.
Many non-indigenous folks remain ignorant about the massacres of Native tribes as well as violent grave robbings that occurred in the years following “Thanksgiving”.
Nevertheless, It’s important to know that for many Native Americans, Thanksgiving is a day of mourning and protest. It commemorates the arrival of settlers in North America and the centuries of oppression and genocide that followed.
Native American Heritage Month
There is little media coverage that the day after Thanksgiving, known to most as Black Friday, is Native American Heritage Day.
Intentional gathering on Thanksgiving refers to a purposeful and mindful approach to the way people come together to celebrate the holiday. It encourages individuals to engage in conversations about gratitude, reflection, and understanding, while also acknowledging the complex history of Thanksgiving, including the experiences of Native American communities. This approach aims to create a more thoughtful and inclusive celebration that goes beyond surface-level traditions.
At CTP, we like to practice a more inclusive traditions list that all of us can partake in this Thanksgiving:
- Native American Acknowledgment: Begin the day by acknowledging the Native American communities that originally inhabited the land.
- Community Giving: Instead of focusing solely on the feast, volunteer at a local food bank, shelter, or community center. Dedicate part of the day to giving back to those in need.
- Outdoor Gratitude Walk: Take a nature walk as a group and express gratitude for the beauty of the natural world.
- Educational Movie or Documentary: Watch a documentary or movie that highlights the history and experiences of Native Americans.
- Thanksgiving Journal: Provide each guest with a journal and encourage them to write down their thoughts, reflections, and experiences throughout the day.
- Gratitude Circle: Before the meal, gather in a circle and take turns expressing what you’re grateful for.
The key is to create traditions that align with your personal values and desires for a more meaningful and inclusive Thanksgiving celebration.