THANKSGIVING IS A CELEBRATION OF WHITE SUPREMACY & INDIGENOUS GENOCIDE.
If you’re already feeling upset, attacked, activated, I want to remind you:Recognizing that Thanksgiving is founded upon genocide of Indigenous peoples and therefore inherently a celebration of white supremacy & colonialism does NOT mean that everyone who celebrates Thanksgiving is inherently a terrible person. It means we have great learning to do.
So, if this offends you, recognize you have work to do to dismantle the white supremacy and colonial ideals you’ve been steeped in and raised on. And keep reading.
Now, let’s dive in.
YES, THANKSGIVING IS FOUNDED ON GENOCIDE
Though a meal did take place between the genocidal white European colonizers and some Indigenous Mashpee Wampanoag people, the romanticized feast between the “Pilgrims and Indians is not actually where Thanksgiving comes from. Instead, it was named after a massacre:
In the 1637 Pequot Massacre, 700 Native people were slaughtered in what’s now known as Mystic, Connecticut. The following day the colonists proclaimed it “a day of public celebration and thanks-giving,” and declaring, “there now scarce remains a name or family of them [Natives] but are either slain, captivated or fled.” So let’s talk about important things to remember every day, but today especially.
- WE LIVE ON STOLEN LAND
If you are not Native, you are living on stolen land. Recognize and honor this. Today, I will be eating on the unceded territory of the Manahoac & Nacotchtank people. Find out whose land you are occupying here. If you can, pay them rent. Many Native tribes have specific ways to do this. Google “[tribe name] + pay rent.” If you cannot find anything, donate monthly to an Indigenous organization. I pay monthly rent to the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center.
And if you find yourself saying,“But all land is stolen,” consider this that "Everyone did it," is a terrible excuse for genocide.
- INDIGENOUS TRAUMA IS NOT ANCIENT HISTORY
Thinking that Indigenous peoples should just “get over it,” and that we should be able to celebrate this holiday because “that’s not how it is now,” or you “don’t see it that way” is dismissive not only of the history and the horrible decimation the colonizers caused, but also of the Indigenous folks still here today. Indigenous communities are still incredibly marginalized, disenfranchised and impoverished. To say that “the genocide is in the past, can we just move on,” is ridiculous. Why is it that when mostly white people die, it’s “never forget”? Think 9/11. Also, Indigenous folks are not gone, no matter how much this country acts like they are. They are still here and we should pay them and their history respect & reparations.
- TALK TO OTHERS ABOUT THE TRUE HISTORY OF THANKSGIVING
Charlie (@dineaesthetics) reminds us: “Your [non-native folks’] voice and presence is needed in this fight against settler colonialism.”Non-Native folks, today is a day to stand strong in your allyship. Walk into difficult conversations if you can. Spend some time learning (from Indigenous voices) about the history of this “holiday” and share what you know with your peers and family members. Engage with difficult conversations surrounding these topics.Compensate Charlie for their labor via Venmo, PayPal, or CashApp.
- “Is there space to “celebrate” the “holiday” of thanksgiving without disrespecting Natives? If so, how?”
When I asked Charlie this question, they answered, “Personally, yes. If you value family and community, then spend the day with them. Capitalism controls when we’re able to rest and be with our loved ones. So, rest and celebrate them, yet also spend some time being critical of the origins of Thanksgiving, and why.”
That is, understanding, recognizing, and honoring the history of Thanksgiving does not mean folks cannot celebrate gratitude and family. But we must understand that celebrating this holiday specifically is celebrating white supremacy, whether intended or not. Thanksgiving was not founded on peace and lovely warm feelings. It was founded on genocide. It was not founded as a day to be thankful for your family. It was founded as a day to be thankful for the death of Indigenous peoples.
Compensate Charlie for their labor via Venmo, PayPal, or CashApp.
LASTLY, FOLLOW INDIGENOUS ACCOUNTS
- @lilnativeboy – payment info here
- @misscorinne86 – Venmo: misscorinne86, Cashapp: $misscorinne86, PayPal.
- @dineaesthetics – payment info here
OTHER ACTIONS TO TAKE