Thanksgiving is a terrible Holiday. It is no surprise it comes so close to Columbus day. Both of these holidays perpetuate the myths around the colonization of North America by Europeans. These myths suggest that the land was not occupied, the people living here did not have their own societies, the people here did not mind the Europeans invasion, the Europeans were kind or gentle people, the Europeans were victims, the Europeans were not racist and cruel, etc.
Thanksgiving needs to be transformed into a day of rememberance for the millions of indigenous people in North America who suffered and still suffer from genocide, rape, pillaging, theft, oppression, torture, degradation, cheating, cultural appropriation and more at the hands of whites. Solidarity with all indigenous peoples struggling for autonomy.
Christopher Columbus was a terrible person, who deserves no holiday. Next year we are pushing to celebrate Columbus day as Harriet Tubman day instead. The kids in our neighborhood suggested she might be a much more worthwhile person to celebrate.
As for Thanksgiving, I know of 2 people who are planning to fast on Thanksgiving, so as to avoid any participation in the gluttonous celebration of genocide. Someone else I know bakes vegan baked goods every year and hands them out and gets people to make hand turkeys and pledge not to eat turkey this Thanksgiving. I’m going to help him again this year, and probably hand out the food in front of the North Avenue Library.
Thanksgiving needs to be dismantled. There are probably lots of ways to approach this day without endorsing it. A lot of people have off of work or school. And it is hard to want to not participate in a group gathering. In Richmond multiple groups of people hold ‘Friendsgiving’ events where people not related by blood but by choice have a potluck style meal. But I don’t think that just doing Thanksgiving differently is enough. People need to think about indigenous history on this land, the way indigenous groups have been and still are subjected to genocide, oppression, pillaging, denial of rights, cultural appropriation and more.
I’m going to continue to think about this crap holiday and the histories it ignores. I am going to read Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown to learn more about resistance by the indigenous people here.
Some other books you might want to look into if you want to learn more about the real interactions between white people and indigenous people in North America include:
In the Courts of the Conqueror: The 10 Worst Indian Law Cases Ever Decided – Walter R. Echo-Hawk and Patricia N. Limerick (Foreword by)
500 Years of Indigenous Resistance – Gord Hill
Columbus and other Cannibals: The Wtiko Disease of Exploitation, Imperialism, and Terrorism – Jack D. Forbes and Derrick Jensen (Introduction by)
Hoping Against Hope: The Stuggle Against Colonialsm in Canada – Ward Churchill (Contributor), Michael Parenti (Contributor), and Praxis Media Productions (Producer)
American Indians: Stereotypes & Realities – Devon A Mihesuah
Pacifism as Pathology: Reflections on the Role of Armed Struggle in North America (2nd edition) – Ed Mead (Contributor), Mike Ryan (Contributor), Derrick Jensen (Introduction by), and Ward Churchill
Conquest: Sexual Violence And American Indian Genocide – Winona LaDuke (Introduction by) and Andrea Smith
Islands In Captivity: The International Tribunal On The Rights Of Indigenous Hawaiians – Sharon Venne (Editor) and Ward Churchill (Editor)
Rethinking Columbus – Eduardo Galeano (Contributor), Winona LaDuke (Contributor), Ward Churchill (Contributor), Bob Peterson (Editor), and Bill Bigelow (Editor)
Custer Died For Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto – Vine Deloria Jr.