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  • Writer's pictureJudy Lee

Thanksgiving and Day of Mourning

Old oil painting of stereotypical thanksgiving feast with native americans and pilgrams.

As we approach Thanksgiving, it's common to recall the story we were taught in school about the camaraderie and peace between Native Americans and Pilgrims of the Plymouth Colony in the 17th Century. However, it's crucial to recognize that this narrative primarily stems from the perspective of the colonialists. To foster cultural sensitivity and inclusion, it's important to explore alternative viewpoints. Many Indigenous people, for example, call Thanksgiving a Day of Mourning.

If you're interested in delving deeper into this topic, below are some articles that help us rethink Thanksgiving, along with resources for educators:

Does this mean we should all feel shame about Thanksgiving and stop celebrating?* Of course not. We understand that Thanksgiving is an important time for many of us to connect with family and friends. How we choose to approach this holiday is up to each of us to decide but what we can do is individually and collectively strive to create more awareness and knowledge around the holiday. Consider doing the following:

  • Educate yourself and recognize Thanksgiving as a Day of Mourning for many Indigenous people.

  • Give a land acknowledgment at your gathering and consider donating to landback projects like Real Rent Duwamish.

  • Respect and believe the stories of Indigenous people. Seek out articles written by them and try to see their point of view.

  • Create awareness around the language we use to describe the history of Thanksgiving (e.g. use 'colonizers' instead of 'settlers').

  • Create new Thanksgiving traditions by integrating new foods or changing the way you celebrate.

  • Give thanks for these opportunities to learn and grow! They may not feel comfortable but as one of our Foundational Beliefs states, "experiencing discomfort is important to learning."

*Some thoughts about feeling bad from an art therapist.


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