On Thanksgiving…

by Paula Palmer

On Thanksgiving – 
Giving thanks is at the heart of all wisdom and spiritual traditions, and it’s good for our country to be reminded of this each November. The Thanksgiving holiday is problematic for many reasons, but let’s not let that cancel the central message and practice of gratitude. As the Haudenosaunee teach, words of thanks come before everything. Their Thanksgiving Address, which they share with the world, is offered at the start and again at the conclusion of all gatherings all year long. It isn’t a holiday; it’s a way of life. Learn about the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, and see this excellent study guide for educators, provided by the National Museum of the American Indian.
This is the 400-year anniversary of the arrival of the Mayflower and the events that are mythologized in the typical “Pilgrims and Indians” Thanksgiving story. Many writers very effectively debunk the Thanksgiving myths and call for de-colonizing our view of history. The myths have ongoing harmful consequences for Native Americans. Here are a few good resources:

Mashpee Wampanoag powwow, 1924, Mashpee Historical Commission

“Myths of the First Thanksgiving,” a 50-minute podcast with  David Vanderhoop, Wampanoag native and co-founder, with his wife Saskia, of Sassafras Earth Education; and David Silverman, professor of Native American and Colonial American History at George Washington University.  He is author ofThis Land is Their Land: The Wampanoag Indians, Plymouth Colony, and the Troubled History of Thanksgiving.
“The Invention of Thanksgiving, by Phiip Deloria, professor of history at Harvard University. Some of his books are Playing Indian, Indians in Unexpected Places, and American Studies: A User’s Guide, coauthored with Alexander Olson.
Various ingredients foraged from prairie land around Coteau des Prairies Lodge near Havana, N.D., July 19, 2016.
Dan Koeck—The New York Times/Redux  

Learning Opportunities

November 16-30 Vision Maker Media and World Channel present a series of Indigenous Films, “Tribal Sovereignty and Home” in honor of Native American Heritage Month

Sunday, Dec. 6, 3-5 pm MOUNTAIN time, “Roots of Injustice, Seeds of Change: Toward Right Relationship with Native Peoples,” workshop via Zoom. Experience the last 500 years of the history of our country through the experience of the Indigenous nations, the Euro-American colonizers, and Western historians. Appropriate for high school students and adults. Please register in advance.

Good News

In Peaceways, the Friends Peace Teams November 2020 newsletter, learn how FPT contributes to nonviolent movements for racial justice and decolonization around the world, including in the U.S. through the Toward Right Relationship with Native Peoples program. To support our work, please donate online (select Toward Right Relationship), or send a check to Friends Peace Teams-TRR, 1001 Park Ave., St. Louis MO 63104 (please write TRR on the memo line). Thank you, Friends.