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One Love (for real this time),
Jamal and Tamika

Nov 27, 2008

Thanksgiving

Guest Blogger: Blue Wing

Hey Jamal and Tamika,

I never thought I would see this day come. Talk about a day to be thankful. After generations of people gathering together on the third Thursday of November to relive myths of false history, and indulge in gluttony as a celebration of the “discovery” of centuries-old land. After hundreds of years of the country praising the people who nearly exterminated my relatives, nearly my entire race…. “Thanksgiving” has finally ended.

The day has been replaced with “First Nations Day” a national day of apology, mourning and education. Kids do not get the day off from school, but adults do get the day off from work in order to share in the national day of education. This way the day still maintains a focus on family and community, but in a memoriam of the families that were split apart by death and relocation, and to honor the communities that were set to war against each other. Adults join the kids in school and spend the day learning nonviolent communication skills and conflict resolution. Now, when people say “never again” they actually have the tools to back up that statement.

The original plan for the national day of mourning was to read the names of all the Native peoples who died in the founding of the United States, the way they do with all the other memorials but the list was far too long. Genocide is inconvenient that way, isn’t it? Instead, members of the US Senate gather to read and enter into the record a list of the many things that have been co-opted, stolen from or gifted and invented by Native American peoples without which this country could not have grown and succeeded. This is fun for the kids to watch on television as a part of the school day, because it includes everything from potato chips, root beer and beef jerky to rubber products, anesthetics and detoxification. The kids pick from the list and create a project to do with their family based on one important offering from Native Americans. Kids do everything from learn how to make their own potato chips to help their parents quit smoking.

Instead of creating “Pilgrim and Indian” skits, each child wears the name of one Native American child who, had it not been for wars, exterminations, disease, relocation, and the host of tools that were used to systematically remove the original people from this land, may have lived a full and prosperous life. The kids write mini-biographies imagining what this young person’s life might have been like had they been given the chance to grow up and thrive. Each of these stories is placed in the Museum of Native American History in Washington DC, creating a sense of all the people and potential that was lost.

Oh and the best part, after years of dreading the entire month of November in school, Native kids don’t have to attend the activities for that day. The country finally recognized that the people who bear the effects of oppression don’t have to bear witness, hold hands or educate those who have enjoyed the benefits of their loss. Native American families are able to spend the day together, creating their own rituals, honoring relatives, and making plans for a successful future together.

1 comments:

Waldrich the Rootin' Teuton Dec 1, 2008, 2:05:00 PM  

Thanks for sharing First Nations Day as a substitute for Thanksgiving. This makes much more sense and sanity.
As a recreational thinking exercise I've begun to wonder how things would have been different if explorers from what is known as the Americas had come to explore the "New World" (in this case, Europe) with its Picts, Celts, Teutons, Galls, etc. It could have been pretty interesting.

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