Note: this was written on Thanksgiving Day 2018 and sent out to members. We are re-posting it here this year for continued discussion.
About the featured image: Want to learn about something badass?Check out B.Yellowtail, a fashion line inspired by designer Bethany Yellowtail’s Apsaalooke (Crow) & Tsetsehestahese & So’taeo’o (Northern Cheyenne) tribal heritage on this Eco-Feminist Blog, Honey & Rouge.
Among our many goals that fall under the umbrella of advancing intersectional feminism is this:
- to decolonize — starting with ourselves (our bodies), continuing with our work (our business, our activism) and ultimately our communities (and how we build community)
Today is widely celebrated as “Thanksgiving Day” here in the US, and for many it means gathering with family or friends or loved ones and sharing a meal together — which is wonderful.
But being dedicated to truth and justice means looking honestly at our shared history. Today, we’re looking at the roots of this holiday.
According to numerous sources (read many of them quoted here), Thanksgiving Day was declared specifically to celebrate the massacre of Native people by white settlers, followed by their claiming and renaming of the land, which had been stewarded for generations by these Native tribes.
Many of us are aware that our history books are incomplete, and oftentimes skewed, slanted and fabricated to look back kindly on those who have long held power under an imperialist, white supremacist, capitalist patriarchy.
The work to dismantle these power structures — which harm *all of us* (even those who may be temporarily propped up by this very power structure) — requires honest assessment, sitting in discomfort and committing to the work of decolonizing, starting with ourselves.
We encourage you to take time today to acknowledge the land where you are meeting, and the original stewards of that land. Acknowledge the history and the part your ancestors or family traditions have played in perpetuating that history. This will mean different things to each of us, but we can all take time to think about our role, past, present and future, in the things we celebrate.
If you live in New Hampshire, as many of our members do, here’s one place to learn more about the Abenaki, including the Penacook tribe, which inhabited the New Hampshire region over 10,000 years: Abenaki; and you can read about the much more recent history of eugenics used against Native families in the 1920s and 1930s in the Vermont region here: The rise and fall of eugenics. Here’s another overview of some Native history, although it skips over any reference of the systematic massacre of these people: Paths to NH’s Native Past (If you know of other reputable sources for information on our region’s Indigenous history, please hit reply and let me know!)
Many more resources can be found here: https://indigenousnh.com/
Looking for a proactive way to support Native people today? Teen Vogue is on point, as usual: 10 Native Activism Organizations to Show Your Support This Thanksgiving — or hey, #ShopIndigenous from B.Yellowtail or another Native designer.
Many holidays have roots in the systematic domination of one group of people over another. Some also serve as wonderful opportunities to gather with family, friends and loved ones.
Both of these things can be true at the same time.
Let’s make sure that we make space to acknowledge all of the truth that we can today. Because as Maya Angelou said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”