The holiday that American big business’s forgot.
You know, Turkey Day. A day of yummy food and being thankful?
The holiday tucked in between the slew of candy, costumes, and spooky decorations and lights at the end of October; and all the red and green decorations that start crowding store aisles before Halloween is even over.
The holiday celebrating the survival of pilgrims with the help of their new Indian friends. The one that you learned all about in grade school.
I know that there is controversy surrounding how early explorers and settlers treated their new neighbors, and for that reason, some choose not to celebrate the holiday. I think maybe it is better to acknowledge the wrongs that took place against native peoples even as we acknowledge the struggles settlers overcame as they tried to find a better life for themselves and their families.
In the “settling” of America, crimes were perpetrated against native peoples: theft of personal property, resources, and land; murder; forced removal; forced confinement; and even enslavement. Some people will argue that the average person wasn’t guilty of these crimes. Even if the average person did not directly participate in these activities, the attitudes of the average white settlers, which usually ranged from apathetic to the plight of natives to hostility, to outright support of the activities against them, helped perpetuate these crimes.
Failing to acknowledge that these things took place when we celebrate thanksgiving is wrong. It’s a denial that they ever even took place at all. In a way, so is refusing to even acknowledge Thanksgiving. I think it’s better to be honest and acknowledge that the settling of America came at a great cost to native people. We should teach our children our history – all of it, even when it is uncomfortable. Whether in our schools, and at our dinner tables. Failing to do so dishonors the native peoples of our country.
Before you ask, I’m of mixed heritage, with native blood and white blood on both sides. I also celebrate Thanksgiving every year by contemplating all the things I am thankful for in my life, and sharing a table with my friends and family. We are human. We do wonderful things. We do brave, incredible things. We also do things that we would rather not discuss. Denial dooms us to repeat our past aggression and allows others to suffer upon us our past grievances.
This year, I am thankful I live in a place where I have the right to say things that are sometimes difficult to hear. I watch the news lately, and wonder if we are losing this right. I hope not. This is the one of the things that makes America truly great.