Charles Trimble: Thanksgiving and colonization
"A day after Thanksgiving last year, the Omaha World Herald carried a story about the Meskwaki reservation in Tama, Iowa, and feelings about the holiday on the part of some of the tribal people there. Apparently the assignment was to gauge attitudes in light of expressions of resentment in some quarters about the national observance of yet another “colonizing” imposition on Native peoples – Thanksgiving.

Native people quoted in the newspaper article said essentially that the celebration to them was simply an annual getting together of family and friends. They didn’t feel themselves compelled to pray, feast and celebrate, and they held no bitterness. On the other hand, some said, they have plenty to be thankful for.

I suppose that this response pretty much reflects the majority in Indian country – on the reservations and off.

Tribal elder, Roger Welsch, recalled that Alfred “Buddy” Gilpin, Jr., of the Omaha tribe “scoffed at the idea of a special day, or hour, or moment set aside for prayer and Thanksgiving because in his own words, ‘For us every moment of life is a prayer of gratitude.’”

My expert source on things historical, Nancy Gillis – executive, historian, teacher and Hunkapi sibling, told a different story of the first Thanksgiving than that which American tradition has cooked up.

As Nancy told it, “Thanksgiving is often depicted in an idyllic scene with starched-and-buckled pilgrims devoutly in prayer over a bountiful spread of turkey with all the trimmings, joined at the table by a small number of Indians, often shown wearing Plains tribal garb.” But, in reality, she said, “it was an uneasy three-day meeting of the settlers and Wampanoag Indians to work out a peace and mutual-support agreement.”"

Get the Story:
Charles Trimble: Thanksgiving out among the colonized (Indian Country Today 11/21)

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