Thanksgiving isn’t what you think it is — so why does the country keep forgetting?
This text doesn’t come from a place of anger or to place blame on anyone. It comes from a place of knowledge, understanding and a refusal to be erased from history. We shouldn’t be afraid to talk about the real history behind Thanksgiving. It was a brutal genocide that took place and each Native American that’s here today is a survivor of that attempted genocide. Never before in human history has a continent’s population been so thoroughly decimated. More people should know about the awful bounty system that paid settlers to kill Native Americans.
This idea of pilgrims and Native Americans coming together and sharing a positive meal is whitewashing at its finest. Genocide can’t be celebrated and mocked by a fairytale feast that never took place. Unfortunately, most of the literature taught in schools is written by white male authors.
“If it can be destroyed by the truth, it deserves to be destroyed by the truth.” – Schulz (Charlie Brown)
Saying this, I have no qualms about family gatherings. I enjoy a hearty meal as much as the next. Thanking a moment to share a meal with friends and family and reflect on all that we have to be thankful is a positive thing. It just can’t come at the cost of erasure.
Most people don’t remember and many simply don’t care that pilgrim appropriated land, that Abraham Lincoln coin this holiday for patriotism during the Civil War and that this American president ordered the largest mass execution of Dakota people in United States history. The same story is repeated all over North America.
I don’t know why it’s so difficult to have our history heard and acknowledge. Accepting and learning from our failures is the only way to achieve our stated goals of equality and justice for all. It’s not about pointing a guilty finger at anyone. It’s about making sure that an entire nation isn’t forgotten and pushed aside.
It’s about taking a moment to acknowledge that Thanksgiving is a day of mourning for many Native Americans. It’s a day of sadness. For our people, this was a terrible time and we have every right to express how we feel about it.
Thanksgiving also reinforces the idea that Native Americans are in the past and we aren’t here anymore. The reality is that Native Americans are thriving, many are still speaking their language. We are practising our culture.
Obviously, most people don’t celebrate Thanksgiving for its true meaning. Most see it as a day about family and having a nice dinner. Most people don’t even think about the history or give a hoot. It’s great to be surrounded by family, to come together and spend real time.
You can’t change history, no matter how hard you try. The whitewashing of our textbooks doesn’t change the reality of what really happened and the reality is attempted genocide. Our history has been changed and destroyed so much that it is now time to learn some more of the truth. That is not asking too much!
I hope that there is a moment though to acknowledge that First Nation people are still there and that we are thriving. History has to be remembered so that it will not be repeated.
We shouldn’t forget the atrocities of the past. We can’t change it but we can remember and try to honour First Nation cultures.