Native Americans and Thanksgiving
Most white Americans celebrate Thanksgiving yearly with good food and other activities. This day is looked upon by Native Americans differently from how white Americans look at it. There are native Americans who celebrate Thanksgiving as a day of giving thanks, there are those who look at it as a day of mourning and remembrance.
If you want to understand why this is so, then you should look back at what really happened on the first Thanksgiving day.
What is being taught in schools is that when the white pilgrims settled in America, it was the Native Americans that taught them how to survive, how to plant corn and other food items. The pilgrims and Native Americans ate a feast together in thanksgiving for the abundant harvest that was gathered from their crops.
But this is not the real story of the first Thanksgiving. The pilgrims settled at Plymouth because the Native Americans had died of the plague. Soon Squanto, a Native American who taught pilgrims many things, was captured and made into a slave. Soon, the pilgrims and their descendants made Native Americans their slaves, killing, persecuting and robbing them over the next few centuries.
And so, for Native Americans, the first Thanksgiving makes them remember a violent past while the white Americans celebrate plentiful harvest on the day.
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Over time, however, the holiday has changed. Although we still hear the story of the first Thanksgiving being told, today’s celebration is all about family, food, and gratitude. If you read on here, you will learn about the traditions and history of Thanksgiving.
And because of the way it is being celebrated today, there are many Native Americans who do celebrate this day. Celebrating this day for them gives them a chance to continue a heritage of extending grace to anyone who needs it. But there are some who look at the resilience of their people and the fact that they have survived the oppression.
Schools today still teach the story of the first Thanksgiving but many anti-racist organizations are asking them to be more aware of the real history of the day. They ask teachers to give their students more accurate information about Native American culture.
White people don’t have to remember the painful past. But you can celebrate this day by talking to your family about what the first Thanksgiving meant to both the pilgrims and the Native Americans. The past cannot simply be ignored by Native Americans.
Some Native Americans treat Thanksgiving as a day of giving thanks for life, while others see it as a painful remembrance of suffering and oppression.