The Other Side of Thanksgiving
The historical lens through which national holidays are viewed is often blurred and distorted. Thanksgiving is a case in point. The much-revered Pilgrims fresh off the Mayflower sat down and shared native foods with the friendly Wampanoags. A heart-warming story. But this idea of the gift-giving Indian, helping to establish and enrich what would become the United States, is a myth. Native Americans would soon be overwhelmed and killed en masse by white settlers. Those that survived the murderous campaigns against them were relegated to inhospitable reservations. Indian land was stolen fair and square. Today we honor the memory of the slaughtered with Apache and Black Hawk helicopters, Jeep Cherokees, the Washington Redskins and calling bin Laden, Geronimo. Native Americans are offended by the appropriation of their culture. It is the final stage of genocide.
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz grew up in rural Oklahoma, the daughter of a tenant farmer and part-Indian mother. A distinguished scholar, she has been active in the international Indigenous movement for many years and is known for her commitment to social justice issues. She is the recipient of the 2017 Lannan Cultural Freedom Prize. Her 1977 book The Great Sioux Nation was the fundamental document at the first UN conference on Indigenous peoples of the Americas. She is the author of An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, winner of the 2015 American Book Award, Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment, All the Real Indians Died Off and 20 Other Myths about Native Americans and Not a Nation of Immigrants.