Do you really believe in Santa? Better yet, did the Indians and pilgrims really have a peaceful dinner we now call Thanksgiving? As the 21st Century continues to unearth the truth of our holidays, will it change your celebration?
After centuries of telling the pilgrim and Indian story, we still dress our kids up for the Thanksgiving pageants while decorating the house with similar knickknacks. Are we following a blind tradition of an Imperialistic tale of false greatness? Probably not. We, as Americans, don’t necessarily celebrate peace with the Indian Nations we have destroyed over the years. Instead, we celebrate peace between our family, neighbors, and community. But a little knowledge doesn’t hurt any of us.
In the disastrous year of 2020, we have many little and big things to celebrate. From avoiding a Corona virus infection to surviving one or even to the unemployment check being on time. We can be happy to have a turkey and a Zoom call to family located across the nation. Once we dig into the leftovers on the day after it’s back to learning. It’s time we all learned about how the Native Americans are faring in the 21st Century. In all truth, it’s as if Custer is still alive.
Native Americans, those people who brought us American agriculture and survival tips for our expansive lands, aren’t recovering from centuries of imperialism. They have high Corona infections leading to deaths. They have high alcoholism, unemployment, and drug abuse. The reservations are not desert oases. They’re towns forced to live in inhabitable conditions without funding, resources for economic growth, and an overbearing foreign police force against their people.
Native American women were the leaders of their tribes at one time. They were cultivators of the great empires of peaceful and collaborative nations in America. Today, 4 out of every 5 Native American and Alaska Native women are abused. There is now a record number of Native American women in Congress at the poultry sum of 6. Sure, it’s a start but nothing to brag about for either political party that has represented Native Americans for centuries. Both the Democrats and Republicans have failed all the Native American Nations. But what have we said as their neighbors? Have we supported Native Americans to be more than a folktale on a national holiday?
Okay, I’m not trying to ruin anyone’s holiday with the truth but it is what it is. We have protested across the nation against racism but rarely are Native Americans or Alaska or Hawaiian Natives mentioned. If we are going to be a truly inclusive nation, which I’m pretty sure we are really working on for once, we need to include everyone. The next time you tell a Thanksgiving story to your kids, tell them the truth. The next time you go to a protest make a sign that includes the Native Nations. Start spreading not just the joy but the knowledge of our nation at our holidays.