Some Indigenous Thoughts on Thanksgiving in a Time of Racism Awareness

 It’s still so difficult to engage White people in dialogue around the reality of racism. Paralleling how we react when someone with political views different from our own begin to speak (we avoid it!), the anti-racist typically finds even those who “should” get it don’t, or won’t.

I’d propose that if talking about racism, especially systemic racism, in which we are complicit simply by being part of the structures of our society, makes us uncomfortable may well be a good thing. Humans, by our nature, tend to cling to the familiar… even when we might realize the familiar is a moral and ethical wrong. We cling until it becomes too uncomfortable or painful to cling. Then, we tend to be more willing to take action, even if only to make the discomfort go away.

So, as we approach Thanksgiving, a holiday replete with prayers of gratitude for the year (though difficult) that’s been, and with prayer for “others less fortunate” than we, I offer this article for reflection. 

Sometimes it’s hard to choose to listen to voices that don’t say what we wish. I’d propose that this, especially our assumption that it’s okay to not listen, reflects the very racism that challenges us to difficult change.

(From the NY Times, 11/17/20)

Thanksgiving, re-examined.

For many Native Americans, the Covid toll and the reckoning over racial inequity mean it is high time to reconsider the holiday, even beyond the widely debunked account of a friendship-sealing repast with white colonists.

“Thanksgiving is kind of like Columbus Day for Native people,” said Robert Magnan of the Fort Peck Tribe, who is managing a herd of buffalo, above, that descends from animals killed to near-extinction by white settlers in the late 19th century. “Why would we celebrate people who tried to destroy us?”

“There was an event that happened in 1621,” says Linda Coombs, a Wampanoag historian. “But the whole story about what occurred on that first Thanksgiving was a myth created to make white people feel comfortable.”