It’s that time of year again when we Americans gather with our friends and families to celebrate the nation’s most fraught holiday. Thanksgiving is upon us.
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We wanted to send an inclusive holiday message today as millions of Americans (and we’d assume most of our readers) celebrate turkey day. But Thanksgiving, like Columbus Day, is increasingly awkward to acknowledge as this country tries—at times awkwardly—to begin grappling with its history.
In Native American communities, Thanksgiving marks a different occasion: a national day of mourning. It is a somber occasion to reflect on a brutal genocide and generations of oppression, trauma, and exploitation—first by colonizing Europeans and later Americans and their government.
It’s old hat to say that the official story of the holiday papers over what was the start of one of the darkest chapters in our nation’s history. But it does bear repeating that the ripples of bygone atrocities and degradation are still felt today in the form of persistent and lingering inequities.
For example, Native Americans have a 102.6 percent higher midlife mortality rate than white Americans. The population on reservations is younger than the rest of the U.S. population. The national poverty rate for Native Americans is 25 percent, the highest of any group in the country.
For an Indigenous perspective, check out The Red Nation’s National Day of Mourning livestream.
Also, read the debate The Nation just published: Should We Keep Celebrating Thanksgiving?
How to help
The Native American Rights Fund, which has provided legal assistance to Native American tribes and individuals for decades.
The Association on American Indian Affairs, which has worked since 1922 to protect Indigenous cultures and promote Native American and Native Alaskan welfare.
For more Thanksgiving-related content out the following:
“The Turkey Pardon Is a Perfect Emblem of Our Very Dumb Politics” from The New Republic.
“10 More Things to Be Grateful for This Thanksgiving” from The Intercept.
“The Invention of Contemporary Thanksgiving” from Skipped History.
In Other News
In other news, the Israel-Palestine news this week has been predictably horrifying. Civilian casualties have reached new heights amid Israel’s bombing campaign in Gaza, but President Biden once again rejected calls for a ceasefire. There has been some potentially positive news too: a tentative deal was struck this week for a 4-day pause to the fighting and a release of some of the hostages. Check out these stories:
“Israelis Receive ‘Public Service’ Award As Gaza Death Toll Passes 14,000” from The Maple.
“Israel and Hamas agree to temporary cease-fire, hostage release deal” from States Newsroom.
“From Bin Laden to Gaza” from Counterpunch.
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Labor scored some pretty significant wins too. Considering everything happening in the country and the world, the resurgence of labor power is a beacon of hope.
“Unions Are Finally Going Where the Money Is” from The New Republic.
“New York’s 20,000 Building Cleaners Ready to Strike for a Fair Contract” from Documented.
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