A Reason for the Season

Thursday November 22, 2012

By Dina Gilio-Whitaker

For Native Americans the Thanksgiving season is cause for debate, and with good reason. It's an opportunity to tell another side of history through the lens of our experience. It is an inconvenient truth that Thanksgiving is not the same happy occasion for everyone in the United States. Indians will gather by the hundreds at Plymouth Rock on Thanksgiving day (as they do every year) to express a national day of mourning for what the reader will hopefully see as obvious reasons.

The question is often asked: do Indians celebrate Thanksgiving (as in the national holiday)? Many do celebrate the day as a way to get together with family on a day off and enjoy a good meal, but many are adamant that they are not celebrating the national holiday. In Native cultures there is no need to set aside one day a year to give thanks because thanks-giving is built into the culture. Native cultures do not make distinctions between religion or spirituality and that which we could call secular aspects of life. Because life is inherently spiritual and seen as a gift given by the Creator or other deities, everyday is an opportunity to express gratitude.

As indigenous peoples, we are thankful for having been born of the land our ancestors have walked since time immemorial. We give thanks for the rich heritage passed down to us by the Creator through our ancestors, and for all they've taught us about how to be human beings living in right relationship to the Earth and all her children, human and non-human. We are grateful for each day the Creator sees fit to give us breath and the sacred foods that sustain us, and the opportunity to pass on the beauty of our ways to our children and share it with others so that they, too, will learn how to walk in balance on this precious planet we call our Mother.


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