You remembered to roast the Turkey, mash the potatoes and get the perfect ingredients for the pumpkin pie. You made sure family members arrived on time and that you had your best china set for the big feast. But what you completely forgot – perhaps ignored – is the colonial legacy embedded in Thanksgiving.
Today is the 47th National Day of Mourning for Native Americans, as they 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,” explains the website of the United American Indians of New England.
As you carve the Turkey or munch on the pie with your beloved ones know that hundreds of Native Americans protesting the North Dakota Access Pipeline are being shot with rubber bullets, arrested, tear-gassed and attacked with water cannons in subfreezing temperatures. Thanksgiving to Native Americans means genocide, violence and injustice that continue in the name of liberalism and democracy.
“Since 1970, Native Americans and other supporters have gathered at noon on Cole’s Hill in Plymouth to commemorate a National Day of Mourning on the US thanksgiving holiday….Many people seem to have an only vague idea of what Native Americans in this country have been put through,” wrote scholar Wesley Harris.
The Huffington Post reported that approximately 300 Native American and non-native protesters were injured in one 10-hour clash with law enforcement on Sunday evening and 26 were taken to hospitals. Those taken to had “severe head and limb wounds, eye trauma, internal bleeding and hypothermia from being doused with water in 22-degree weather,” wrote Laura Bassett.
The Dakota Access Pipeline is a $3.7 billion project that would cross four states and change the landscape of the US crude oil supply, according to CNN. According to the timeline, protests against the pipeline started in August when protestors, led by the Standing Rock Sioux, blocked the construction site at Cannon Ball, North Dakota because drinking water would be immediately threatened by the pipeline.
Not only do the lives of Native Americans not seem to matter, but they continue to be forced to participate in the brutal, colonial narratives of white supremacists – whether they like it or not. The Guardian reported that actor Jane Fonda is part of a delegation to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota that will serve 500 people a Thanksgiving dinner of 30 pasture-raised turkeys from Bill Niman’s ranch prepared by a locavore chef.
The Guardian quoted Kandi Mosset, a member of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara nation, who had mixed feelings about the gesture.
“What is the narrative there? ‘Oh, we want to help the poor Indians on Thanksgiving of all days?’ We’re trying to make people understand that we don’t need celebrities to come and feed us and get a photo op and just leave,” she added.
As you enjoy today’s precious moments with family members, remember to hold a few moments of silence to mourn the death of Native Americans and to reflect on the atrocities they have endured for hundreds of years. Discuss with your guests ways to support them in their struggle against corporate greed, colonial tyranny and inhumane mistreatment. Make commitments to learn about the past and present fights of Native Americans who have long been a core thread of this nation’s fabric. Have the awareness and consciousness to collectively support them and stand with them against modern day violence and brutality.
Here are resources to support Standing Rocks Protests:
Ways to Help Standing Rock Protestors This Thanksgiving
7 Ways to Support Standing Rock’s Protests Against the Dakota Access Pipeline
10 Ways You Can Help the Standing Rock Sioux Fight the Dakota Access Pipeline