Native American mourning ceremony in Boston ((Photo Credit: Boston Globe))
Native American mourning ceremony in Boston

(Photo Credit: Boston Globe)

Thanksgiving: The Native American Perspective

November 9, 2022

When thinking of the origins of Thanksgiving many relate back to the story of Native Americans and Pilgrims coming together for the first feast. Today it is celebrated with the annual New York Thanksgiving parade in commencement, families preparing for turkey cutting, and coming together in unity. As this national holiday is a day of coming together in celebration, it is also a day of mourning.

Native American Supporters helping those in mourning on Thanksgiving day, 2019 (Photo Credit: The Philadelphia Inquiry)

 According to The Indianapolis Public Library, “Indigenous Peoples in America recognize Thanksgiving as a day of mourning. It is a time to remember ancestral history as well as a day to acknowledge and protest the racism and oppression which they continue to experience today.” 

Sophia Swezey (12), president of Academy’s Native American Club states, “Thanksgiving can be difficult for Native American families. It celebrates the arrival of European pilgrims in North America, as well as the subsequent centuries of persecution of Native Americans that followed. Prayer is an essential component of my Thanksgiving festivities. Throughout the day, we offer gratitude for the deceased and mourn those who have passed. My family and I, members of the Cherokee and Lumbee tribes, are planning to make fry bread, a traditional Native American recipe, to commemorate our ancestors. At the  end of the day we are thankful to be with family from both near and far.”

Traditional Native American Fry Bread: Made with simple ingredients, generally wheat flour, sugar, salt, and fat, frybread can be eaten alone or with various toppings such as honey, jam, powdered sugar, venison, or beef. (Photo Credit: Norine’s Nest)

To be an active ally to Native Americans, you can choose to no longer celebrate Thanksgiving and/or support those in mourning.

By continuing to educate and teach the future generation of the true history of Thanksgiving, we can keep an open and honest perspective of those around us. Below is a video on ways to still celebrate Thanksgiving and honor Native Americans. 

As many take this holiday as a time to get together and enjoy a feast, the remembrance of massacred Native Americans due to colonization are also taken into account during this week. The overall support, celebration, and remembrance of Indigenous culture within the Americas takes place the whole month.

How will you celebrate Native American Heritage and keep the history alive this year?

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