It’s Thanksgiving — the season for being thankful. And despite the headlines, there’s much for which we can be grateful. At the same, this is also the season to treasure traditions. If there’s one thing that makes America great, it is its diversity of people and the traditions they practice freely throughout the year.
However, many indigenous people, specifically Native Americans, don’t view this day like other Americans do. Instead, it’s a day and time for mourning — a whitewashing so to speak of their history and heritage — violently destroyed when white Europeans, “Pilgrims” as we learn from our history books, settled here and proceeded to dispossess them of their land. Fortunately, they held fast to their culture.
Just as the history of the Native American has remained uncelebrated and ignored, so has the history of other black and brown people. It’s been substantially erased from our history books, our school curricula, and our national celebrations, save for Black History and Hispanic Heritage Month.
Did you know that November is also Native American Indian Heritage Month, declared as such by President George H.W. Bush on August 3, 1990? And every president since has proclaimed November in honor of Native Americans, including Donald Trump who declared, “As part of our American family, Native Americans will never be left behind under this administration. Together, we will strengthen the relationship between the United States Government and Native Americans.”
Yet, last September, Native Americans in Montana and South Dakota sued the Trump Administration for approving an oil pipeline from Canada despite potential dangers. In an article published in Montana’s Star-Advertiser: “The tribes argue President Donald Trump brushed aside their rights and put their members at risk when he reversed President Barack Obama’s rejection of the $8 billion TransCanada Corp. project.”
From Trump’s disparaging reference to Sen. Elizabeth Warren as “Pocahontas” to his zero tolerance on illegal immigration and the forced separation of families, Native Americans see history repeating itself leaving them little reason, still, to adopt Thanksgiving as a celebration and cultural tradition.
All said, not only as Americans but as human beings, taking time to say thank you and to give thanks is a good thing. Even Native Americans agree with that. But in so doing, give thought, honor and homage to those who suffered so that others could thrive on this land called America.