Tuesday, November 23, 2010
The Meaning of Thanksgiving
I hate to be the one to ruin everybody's festivities, but where truth lies, it must be uncovered. What is thanksgiving? What does it represent? In school we were taught about the Mayflower and a wonderful feast between the Native Americans and the Pilgrims. The truth? Yes Native Americans, like Squanto, taught the Europeans all about this "new world" and how to cultivate it. What did they get in return for their services? 93 epidemics between 1520 and 1918, including 41 eruptions of smallpox. European disease wiped out 95% of the East Coastal tribal population. What else did the Europeans "give" to the Natives? Destroying their land, their bison, and their culture. Enslavement and indentured servants.
Okay, so maybe Thanksgiving is engraved in your family tradition, and it's a time of year when everyone has off of work and school and the whole family gets together to create memories and good times. Would it be too much to ask to say a prayer for the fallen civilizations Of aboriginal Americans, like the Iroquois and Seminoles and the displaced Natives of the Mississippi Ohio area like the Osage, Kaw, Ponca and Omaha? Say a prayer for them and for their descendants, who are still feeling the devastating effects of those European settlers.
As for me? I want to be with my family. I want to eat and be joyful, but can I really celebrate the destruction of someone else's culture? Which is a part of my culture, being able to trace the Cherokee blood in my own ancestry. Many Native Americans look at Thanksgiving as a day of mourning. I will never look at Turkey day the same again.