Now Comes the Tainted Holiday
It’s American Thanksgiving again.
Time for turkey, stuffing, cranberries and cognitive dissonance.
Like so much of the history of the United States of America, Thanksgiving is a happy smiley story layered over appalling crimes against humanity.
Ask the Wampanoag what they feel about the meal they shared with white colonizers 400 years ago. It is not a happy, smiley story.
They are not grateful for encountering those people, or for that day.
Yes, I think we should. The Harvest Sabbath and the bounty of that season come to mind.
But this day, commemorating that event? With all that came after?
With the genocide that came after? That was already in its early stages?
Hard for an informed person to do.
I have no recommendations, no neat and tidy conclusions.
I will gather with chosen family on Thursday, and I will, indeed, be grateful to see them, as happens so rarely. I will eat, and drink, and laugh.
And history will gnaw at me.
I’ve chosen an organization, the California Tribal Fund, to contribute to this year. That’s nearly nothing, but it’s what I can do.
That, and fight like hell in my professional life to support conservation efforts with Tribal engagement and land back and Tribal co-management of public lands.
This terrible wrong will never be righted. But we must do what we can.
Image: The First Thanksgiving 1621, oil on canvas by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1899). The painting shows common misrepresentations about the event which persist to modern times: Pilgrims did not wear such outfits, nor did they eat at a dinner table, the Wampanoag are dressed in the style of Native Americans from the Great Plains, and provision of food was mostly done by the Wampanoag FOR the colonists, not vice versa. In short, the whole thing is an ahistoric fantasy.