By Ciara Watson
To the average American, Thanksgiving is a time in which you and your children get a two-day free vacation from work and school. For a small number of sometimes forgotten American people, however, Thanksgiving is a holiday reminding them of war and the genocide of their people and culture.
Since 1970, United American Indians of New England (UAINE) has gathered at noon on Cole’s Hill in Plymouth to commemorate a National Day of Mourning on the United States’ Thanksgiving holiday.
“Many Native Americans do not celebrate the arrival of the Pilgrims and other European settlers. Thanksgiving day is a reminder of the genocide of millions of Native people, the theft of Native lands, and the relentless assault on Native culture,” says the UAINE website.
Though many people of the Native American culture still feel great pain and sorrow for their betrayal from the past, there are a few who believe in perseverance and self empowerment for a better future.
Dineh Nation and the Yukon Dakota Sioux, Jacqueline Keeler spoke about all of the injustices her culture has faced on that Thanksgiving Thursday day 300 years ago, and finished her entry by saying, “the healing can begin.”
Through many years of drying many tears, Native Americans all across the country have been able to think of Thanksgiving beyond a day remembering only death and massacre, but also one of family, love and hope for the future. Those who are able to embrace the Thanksgiving holiday do so as a family but never forget their culture’s past while also giving charge to their future.
“Personally, since this holiday is so permanent in our culture, I choose to look at Thanksgiving as a time to spend with my family as opposed to the history that the U.S. I choose to ignore the selected version of this day,” UNO Professor Cathi Warren said. “While the Tribes and the English did meet and share food, the relations after this led to the time of horror that the tribes have been dealing with for the last 400 years.”
So this year while you are eating your homemade turkey and stuffing; let us not forget to thank Native Americans for the sacrifices they made so we can enjoy this “day of thanks,” we have all come to love and celebrate.