Discover the Meaning of Thanksgiving from the Native American side

“For many of us, thinking about Thanksgiving makes us think of the First Thanksgiving between the Indians and the Pilgrims. There are many versions of this story though, but many of us know the one we are taught in school.  In 1621, America would have their very first Thanksgiving Dinner between the two different groups. Today it is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November. 

The very first Thanksgiving was to celebrate a treaty between the pilgrims and the Indians. This was a large feast that had enough food to feed everyone for weeks. On the table was foul such as geese, turkey, swans, duck, etc. There was also lots of meat, vegetables and grains provided by both the Indians and the pilgrims. Everyone had a wonderful celebration, and certainly a wonderful meal.  The Native Indians even signed a paper stating that the pilgrims had the right to Plymouth.

Thanksgiving to the Native American Indians may not mean the same thing that it did to the white settlers in American History.  To the Indians, Thanksgiving would mean a totally different thing. This was the beginning of their end - a time where they had given up their land in return for gifts that were full of disease - which would kill many of them later down the road. 

The White settlers would see this as a friendship being started, knowing that without the help of the Native American Indians, they would never have survived the rough winter.  It was a time of celebrating with family and friends and being thankful they were still around to do it.  Today, we celebrate it with our own family with turkey, yams and ham. 

Thanksgiving will always be remembered as a time when the Native American Indians and Pilgrims sat at a long table and ate together, sharing everything they had with one another.”

Food for thought: What does the holiday mean to you?

Original piece:

November Campaign: Native American Rights Fund

Not only is it more important than ever to dig into our nation’s history for clues, but recently our hearts have been called to help serve the voices of a people nearly forgotten. For the month of November and beyond we intend to spread awareness, raise voices and collectively work together to understand the Native American’s continuous battle for basic human rights. The Native American Rights Fund ‘is the oldest and largest nonprofit law firm dedicated to asserting and defending the rights of Indian tribes, organizations and individuals nationwide.’ *

NARF’s Priorities Include:

  • Preserving Tribal Existence

  • Protecting Tribal Natural Resources

  • Promoting Native American Human Rights

  • Holding Governments Accountable To Native Americans

  • Developing Indian Law

  • Educating The Public About Indian Rights, Laws And Issues

In reflection, much of our nation is oddly asleep on the history, culture and frankly appalling foundation on which we stand. Where we are exposed to everyday mascots (literally and figuratively speaking) the miss on Indigenous loss speaks volumes to the systems we abide by today. Treading carefully with politics, we admit that even our ignorance gets the very best of us at times. Selling dreamcatchers and arrowhead jewelry for profit, falling into seemingly dire trends and using alarming keywords for return investments. Although we cannot argue our complete innocence, we can create a dialog for change.

The atrocities that continue to push the Original peoples of America into the ground need to be brought to light. We cannot change history nor do our apologies make change for it, but we can spark positive thinking and create a wave of awareness that will wash up on the shores of what is good and what is right.

How Can You Help?

Have a conversation. Ask a friend, family member, co-worker or mentor what they remember about Native American history. Talk about the things you were taught in school and inform yourselves of the chronicled events that brought us to present day. Below are some great resources for quick reads and informative narratives. Speak about how it makes you feel. Imagine how it must feel/must have felt for Native Americans. Understand there are two sides to every story. Explore these ideas and see what kind of understanding, compassion and enlightenment it brings you, if any.

Consider sharing our blog and campaign to spread our words and thoughts and hopefully assist in directing realization, recognition and an eagerness for change.


Want to chat but don’t know how to spark that conversation? Drop your thoughts and questions below!