The disheartening truth Of Thanksgiving

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Sasha Zahler, Contributing Writer

Thanksgiving has been an American holiday since 1612 to celebrate blessings, gratefulness and giving thanks. Families sit around and feast on cornucopias of food to appreciate the things they are given, but often neglect the history of the holiday they’re celebrating.

Americans celebrate the feast that white colonizers and Native Americans shared after colonizers conquered their lands, instead of acknowledging how the colonization killed many Native Americans. Europeans brought many illnesses that ended with fast and painful deaths to Native Americans. Another commonly unspoken event that took place was Europeans capturing Native Americans and selling them into slavery.

I believe that it is important for American citizens to be educated on these facts. In school, students are told that during this time many Native Americans died due to the illness that Europeans brought, but this topic is quickly brushed over and turned to the amazing innovations that Native Americans introduced the colonizers to. Schools should spend more time on acknowledging the struggle and pain that Native Americans went through.

Native Americans attended the feast that took place to honor the mutual defense pact, not because they were openly invited. This was not the warm and welcoming dinner that Americans are told, in fact Native Americans only agreed to sit with the colonizers following the discussion that was in an attempt to mediate the tensions. It’s important that Americans are informed of the relationship with Natives and Europeans during this time. Europeans did not treat Native Americans as their equals– they viewed them as a group to steal traditions and ways of life from. Although they were enlightened by Natives knowledge of the land, colonizers did not view it as this way and still believed to be the superior group.

In 1637, John Winthrop established the first Thanksgiving following the death of 700 Pequot people. It wasn’t until Lincoln commemorated Thanksgiving as the fourth Thursday of every November that America began to celebrate the “holiday” in unison. American citizens today fail to recognize the fact that Thanksgiving is a holiday built off death and sorrow.

For Native Americans the day is commonly referred to as a National Day Of Mourning. They view this day as the day that colonizers came to their lands and created an uprising of deaths on their friends, families and tribes.

“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,” the United American Indians of New England said.

I believe that the national government should address this issue and include the National Day Of Mourning as a national holiday. It’s imperative that Native Americans are not ignored and dishonored on Thanksgiving, rather appreciated and mourned.

Thanksgiving is unknowingly a celebration of the ongoing racism and oppression that Native Americans face. It is important to discuss the brutality that Native Americans endured for a multitude of reasons. One of those is acknowledging how many traditions died with the lives of Natives and now this is affecting Native Americans culture currently.

Native Americans make up two percent of the United States population which adds up to approximately 5.2 million people. That means that 5.2 million Native Americans every year are reminded of the genocide of their ancestors, but are told to be grateful for their blessing and celebrate with their friends and family. When in reality Native Americans are being disgraced and humiliated by a nation built on stolen land and that has the audacity to not acknowledge the deaths of an ample number of Native Americans lives that were taken on “Thanksgiving.”

Since Thanksgiving is a national holiday it would be ignorant to ask everyone not to celebrate, but it is imperative that at Thanksgiving dinners there is discussion of the tragedy that Native Americans went through and acknowledge what the nation is truly celebrating.