Many white Americans have been fed the same tale about Thanksgiving our whole lives - that it's a celebration of peace, survival, collaboration, perseverance, and adaptability. We were handed a story that is so alarmingly false that it could only benefit and sustain the interests of white colonialism & supremacy.
I mean, let’s not dance around it anymore, right?
Although Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863, he shouldn’t be considered an icon for Indigenous diplomacy or reconciliation.
"It wasn't until after the formation of the United States that narratives of a harmonious celebration between Pilgrims and Wampanoag were created to justify westward expansion and “manifest destiny.” And we know today that this westward expansion led to the theft of Native land, devastated Native languages, cultural practices, food systems, and much more." - First Nations Development Insitute
Therefore, we must confront the fact that Thanksgiving has been misdirecting us from acknowledging the real history and its injustice. However, we can use this national holiday and Indigenous day of mourning to open up a conversation about how we can begin divesting from damaging narratives and practices such as those we see around this time of year.
Please keep in mind that ultimately there's no way to decolonize Thanksgiving. Its most fundamental structure, history, and celebration perpetuate harmful ideologies that cause tangible damage, injury, and grief.
Know & Acknowledge the Land You Are On
The first and most basic step to decolonizing your Thanksgiving (& life) is to recognize the Indigenous territories you occupy. This simple action takes less than a minute but is a powerful way to acknowledge stolen land and suppressed histories.
➡️ Find out here which Indigenous territory you are currently occupying ⬅️
Once you know which Indigenous territory you live on, learn the pronunciation of that land and the community it was taken from in the respective Indigenous language.
Give Yourself the Education your White High School Never Could
While we can rightfully critique the historically inaccurate & ethnocentrist nature of much of our public education, right now we have the power to reclaim our knowledge and hold ourselves responsible for our education.
When we educate ourselves, we take accountability for how informed, open, and willing to learn and grow we are. In addition, we relieve the Indigenous American community from the perpetual task of having to inform and educate us. Can you imagine how frustrating it would be to constantly correct harmful historical narratives despite the information being readily available for us to inform ourselves?
Start here by reading this short article from First Nation:
Then read the real history of the United States told from an Indigenous perspective:
Educate yourself on your local Indigenous history & expand from there. Perhaps there is something unique to your profession, place of work or residence that re-education could benefit and uplift. Maybe you’re an educator, writer, or stylist - you can all make an impact in a distinctive way. Consider what strengths and voice you have & pursue knowledge that can put you in integrity in what you’re already doing.
Scroll down for more recommended Indigenous literature, businesses, and more.
Share Resources + Amplify Indigenous Voices
Once you know the real history, refrain from sharing inaccurate stories or furthering harmful narratives about Thanksgiving and Indigenous history. Share educational resources that are written and told by Indigenous Americans & uplift the voices of people whose ancestors survived the unimaginable. Share stories of Indigenous resiliency, wisdom, and ingenuity.
Pay Up ~ Divine Currency 💰
The effects of years of systemic oppression, genocide, and economic and cultural suppression are no joke. Pay reparations to your local Indigenous communities, NGOs, and businesses. With self-education and intention, we can play a small part in economic reconciliation.
If opportunities to support locally are limited in your area, consider supporting these...
& Indigenous-Owned Businesses:
As we move into Black Friday and the holiday season, consider supporting Indigenous-owned businesses. While these holidays are certainly consumptive if you're going to shop you can use this as an opportunity to support Indigenous-owned and operated businesses & experience first-hand ancestral knowledge, traditions, and culture.
As always, check what's available locally but here are some eye-catching products and
fabulous businesses you can confidently share your support:
These gorgeous earrings are from Eighth Generation (& they're on sale if I might add). They have tons of different designs plus textiles, apparel, & art.
Check out these earrings here ✨
This Wolf Mountain Lodge Cardigan from b.YELLOWTAIL makes me weak at the knees 😫 Quivering.
This Sweetgrass Body Mist from Sequoia is one of so many unique & stunning products on their website. While you explore, check out their new Three Sisters candle 🕯
This is a Blue Corn Facial Scrub from SHIMA' - a nonprofit made up of Navajo farmers, herb gatherers, soap makers, and medicine men and women. This product is made from ancestral blue corn seeds & all their products share the same rich heritage, depth, and intentionality.
You better believe there's some tea on this list! This Good Medicine spearmint and eucalyptus tea from the Native American Tea Company was highly recommended. Also the orange cinnamon and black tea Warriors Brew sounds absolutely divine.
Explore more Indigenous-owned businesses
The NTVS - It was impossible to pick just one to highlight! NTVS is a Native-owned clothing company.
RPM.FM - This site connects you to Native musicians & their websites where you can purchase their music direct.
The IOWAY Bee Farm - Explore products from raw honey, lotion & lip balms, candles, and more from the Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska.
Spotted Horse Coffee - Shop fair trade and organic coffee sourced from Indigenous Female Coffee Producers.
Haipažaža Pȟežuta - Check out Lakota-made soaps, scrubs, bath bombs, hair products & more all created using ancestral plant knowledge.
Consider what you can do to make a positive impact and give back part of your money to Indigenous American nations, organizations & movements. We all have something unique to offer our comunity whether through our business, donations, or time.
Decolonizing the Dinner Table
Yep. Because this holiday was built from colonization to sustain colonization, harmful ideologies are part of every facet of this holiday, even onto the table and plate itself.
However, for those who'd still like to gather, we have an opportunity to honor Indigenous Americans on Thanksgiving by including foods that are rich in native history.
First, identify which foods are indigenous to the Americas.
Second, identify which foods are indigenous to the region you live in.
Third, identify which foods your ancestors ate - ask your family if you have any Indigenous American history and if you can incorporate that into your holiday meal.
This process is deeply individual so no two practices may look the same. You can take your own personal journey to connect to your ancestors, connect to the land, and gather in a way that is informed and intentional.
The Three Sisters
The Three Sisters are a great introduction into native food science that you can create, learn from, and discuss over your meal. Made up of corn, beans, and squash, there are endless possibilities for integrating these ingredients onto your plate.
One of the coolest things about the Three Sisters is why & how they came to be. It’s a testament to ancestral knowledge and the indigenous connection to the land. Take this opportunity to dive deeper into these traditions:
Learn about companion planting
Read the recipe for a Three Sisters Soup