Envision for a moment that Germany won World War II. They in turn created a holiday that celebrated this feat and ignored the Holocaust and Anti-Semitism. This holiday would be centered around families giving thanks for one of the biggest human rights travesties in world history. Businesses would close during this national observance. Schools would empty as generations of students are indoctrinated with the lessons of this national achievement. Government offices would shut down and mile after mile of city blocks would fill up with revelers marching in parades. Imagine how Jewish people would feel.
This is how most American Indians/Alaska Natives feel about Thanksgiving. They see it as a holiday that took advantage of their gratefulness as our country’s first citizens and in turn were rewarded with land theft, extermination from disease, violence and near total destruction through forced assimilation.
Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with being thankful. There is something very wrong about celebrating a holiday that does not contain one ounce of truthfulness and historical accuracy.
I think other countries have more authentic Thanksgiving celebrations. China celebrates the birth of the moon. Greece recognizes agriculture. Egypt acknowledges fertility. Indonesia and Japan commemorate the significance of rice. Korea remembers the souls of their ancestors.
I realize Thanksgiving is here to stay. It would be difficult to undo a national holiday that was introduced during the Lincoln Presidency and formally codified during the Truman Administration. Can’t we at least celebrate it in a different way?
Here is how most American Indians/Alaska Natives celebrate Thanksgiving: (1) From a feel good history to a feel bad history; (2) Instead of one day of the year every day of the year; (3) From being religiously ordained to a day of mourning; (4) Instead of shopping till you drop buying only what you need and (4) From being ethnocentric to being self-reflective.
The question remains. Why does this country continue to celebrate a national holiday that does not honor its first citizens? The answer can be found in the behavior of bullies. It is difficult for a bully to change their stripes because to do so would acknowledge there is some of value in their victims.
In the meantime, American Indians/Alaska Natives will cover. Unable to bring their full selves to a celebration that mocks them year after year but yet thankful we have survived another year of bullying