This post will either be a) awkward to write b) fun to write or c) a little bit of both. This is a personal topic to me so if you prefer something more lively and happy, go and watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade or Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.
I haven’t been writing discussion posts as much as I probably should. I enjoy writing them and y’all seem to love reading them but they take a lot out of me. I have to be really passionate about a topic in order to write an entire 1,000+ word blog post on it. Thus, why I’m here today, the day before Thanksgiving, writing this post very last-minute.
You might or might not know but I’m part Native American. I don’t know how much of my blood is Native, but I share a lot of physical Native characteristics. My white side usually gets the most attention and many times online people have called me white instead of Native, even if I tell them that I am Native. I never truly know how to classify myself on documents because there isn’t a ‘biracial’ option. ANYWAYS. You can read more about my identity as being partially Native HERE.
Now onto the topic you came here for. Thanksgiving. The day of giving thanks. But, for what? Thanksgiving is typically described as a celebration of the Pilgrim’s “first harvest”. Thanksgiving is oftentimes fabricated as a day to celebrate the harvests of colonizers after their arrival in the States. However, what isn’t discussed is the Native Americans that grew the food for the Pilgrims and although they shared a peaceful meal together the Indigenous population was almost completely wiped out by the Pilgrims.
I don’t have an issue with Thanksgiving. I have an issue with the stigma that surrounds it, with the ignorance of what the holiday should truly be about. Thanksgiving should be a holiday to mourn Natives. Instead it’s glorified and used as a way to celebrate the Pilgrims (much like Columbus Day). Colonizers – ie: Christopher Columbus – came to America to colonize. When they realized that there was already a population of people there, they chose to wipe them out (with the help of diseases they brought), enslave them for their own gain, and make them convert from their Native ways to theirs.
The way Native Americans were treated by colonizers is a disgusting aspect of American history but is also very important. We Native Americans to this day are seen as a thing of the past because such a large portion of us got wiped out through disease and mass genocide. Thanksgiving’s history shouldn’t be celebrated, yet it is.
Kids around the country dress up as Pilgrims and Native Americans during this holiday and participate in school plays that gloss over everything bad about the holiday. Pilgrims are made out to be the heroes in this story. You wouldn’t have kids dress up as Nazis and Jews and make them out to be friends, right? Well, this is a similar predicament.
Thanksgiving is a tradition and traditions rarely ever change. I believe that most people celebrate Thanksgiving for sports, food, and to spend time with family. That’s great and all, but we still have this shadow looming over the holiday. It’s not something that can be ignored.
The genocide of the Native population isn’t something to be celebrated. Which is why, instead we should mourn all of the Indigenous peoples that suffered and died due to the colonizers. I’m not saying that Thanksgiving should be a sad holiday – not at all – it’s a great holiday that’s so very American. It celebrates eating too much food, yelling over sports, and you get stuff you don’t really need for dirt cheap that same Friday. There’s no holiday more American. Besides Independence Day. Which also has it’s problems. But it’s also my birthday so I can’t complain.
I have always celebrated Thanksgiving growing up. Of course, I didn’t always know what I was celebrating. I just knew that November was the month where we sat down and ate a lot of food haha. Over the years I became more and more aware of the holiday. We would choose either a Pilgrim hat or a Native headband with feathers to craft in Elementary school and wear it around for the rest of the day. I thought that Thanksgiving must have been a day where Pilgrims and Natives worked together for the food they ate and were thankful for the harvest and getting to eat together. What I didn’t know was that the Natives harvested the food and ate with the Pilgrims… just to be massacred right afterwards.
Finding out the true meaning behind Thanksgiving, to me, was like figuring out that Santa Claus wasn’t real. I never saw the holiday the same again. Of course we typically make a few signature dishes a year on Thanksgiving and we watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Dinner with family usually occurs and it’s nice to spend time with family.
Thanksgiving is an important holiday. Whether you recognize the history behind it or just like to see family you don’t see often, it shouldn’t be erased. We all celebrate Thanksgiving in different ways and we all celebrate for different reasons. I have a more personal tie to the holiday than the average person so I always feel a shred of guilt and sadness ‘celebrating’ a holiday that has such a terrible history for my ancestors.
I am fortunate to be here right now and I’m thankful for that. I am fortunate to be as privileged as I am. I am thankful for my family and everyone else that has left a positive impact on my life. I’m thankful for a lot of things. I send all of my love out to the Indigenous people that are out there today living their lives the way they want, not the way the government or others are trying to force them to.
I am proud and thankful to be Native American.
This post was in no way to make your holiday season depressing or any less enjoyable but I felt inclined to write about this since it’s personal to me. I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving – I hope you get to see your family and friends and eat a great meal ❤
How do you feel about Thanksgiving? Are there any holidays that are personal to you, whether it’s good or bad? What are some of your favorite holiday traditions? Let me know!