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There’s no doubt that this country has much to offer and that there are countless ways to be thankful no matter how rough life is or has been especially this year. Being aware of what we have becomes more meaningful when we realize the inequities that are so ingrained. There’s still so much more we have to learn and improve so that more people can have more to be thankful for daily. We have a great deal of wrong to understand and rebuild and to start we invite you to take a moment to reflect and consider how you think about Thanksgiving.
The inequities here in the United States are deeply ingrained in this country's history. In some parts of this nation there have been efforts to change and teach the more true and honest history of this country however it’s only making a small dent. There is much more to be shared and spread. With awareness there is a better chance of building stronger communities just like those which once thrived on these lands.
Environment and Community
Today we face challenges around the globe because we have not taken care of our environment. Many Native nations have a foundational belief that as long as humans are respectful of the natural world, it will provide for us.
Traditionally Native nations place a high value on social relationships and community. When it came to the idea of community - it was not just the people that had a role - the animals, plants and nature were all integrated. Their way of life was interwoven with nature and each other and together the ecosystems in which they lived provided and sustained their communities and in turn their collective well being.
Health of Native Communities
The United States Government has had a direct impact on the destruction of the physical and mental health of native communities and it started with the genocide which started hundreds of years ago and still continues quietly today.
The United States government put into place systems with the goal of eventually killing off Native nations. A few of the tactics that were the slow deterioration of the nations included and are not limited to removing native nations off their lands, punishing people for their cultural practices, and forcing them to work away from their home. This was not a system of assimilation and development that was for the better, these practices eventually helped dismantle the foundation of their well being.
Although some nations have been more successful in rebuilding their culture to some degree most communities did not survive and the rest still struggle today. These stories and struggles should not be erased and forgotten for they shape the foundations of our traditions we carry on today and they need repair and support from all of us.
Reshaping how we build community
Around the globe, communities are forming and rebuilding on multiple levels this year.
Many new connections are unfortunately being built upon the tragic foundation of inequities that have been heightened this year. With too many people in the communities most affected by these unjust systems passing daily there is no doubt that
When we come up on the other side of the struggles we face today with the pandemic of 2020 we will need to remain connected. We will need more people to join the efforts to bridge the gaps so that we can build a stronger tomorrow.
Remembrance and Thanks
In the years to come think about what you will incorporate into Thanksgiving. Perhaps remembrance and acknowledgement of the more complete history of the Native nations shall contribute to your choices, greater giving and respect for others, and longer lists of gratitude.
Here are a few articles for reference that we recommend as you continue your journey to connect with the historical relevance of Thanksgiving.
An authentic look at Thanksgiving
Understanding Thanksgiving in a socially responsible way
What does Thanksgiving mean to Native Americans
Wampanoag Native Amercians on Thanksgiving