As an Indigenous person (albeit in Canada, where we celebrate Thanksgiving in October), I hold that holiday to be an occasion of potentiality.
I consider, on that day, the vision of my Indigenous ancestors, who welcomed newcomers, taught them to survive, and (contrary to the propaganda) hosted the table and laid the feast, offering of the best of this continent: The Three Sisters, corn beans and squash, who feature in the feast to this day, along with turkey (indigenous), potatoes (indigenous), pecans(indigenous) and cranberry (indigenous).
We can transform Thanksgiving, by learning about the provenance of these feast staples, and honouring those Indigenous folks who were, at the time of the first Thanksgiving, dwellers in settled communities, farmers of land and sea, living well on this land and sharing with newcomers.
I consider, on that day, my immigrant ancestors, who were not told they were being brought here as an instrument of displacement and erasure, and hadn’t the means to go back, could only choose to live in neighbourship with the indigenous folks in their area.
They brought wheat and dairy, pork and beef, chickens and carrots and rhubarb to the feast. They did not know the history. That does not have to remain the case.
We can choose. We have a lot to share with each other, both of mourning and of celebration.
So, American cousins, set a table today, and if you choose, set an extra chair, for those who first offered food, friendship and sanctuary here. Or maybe put together a little plate with some of each of your feast items, and set it out beneath a local tree, on a rock, by the water, somewhere as an offering of Thanks to the ancestors we all share. Maybe even as a pledge to our descendants, committing us to become the sort of ancestors they can be proud of, for our clarity, generosity and heart.
Thanks to ArbazKhan Yousufzai for this image from the mighty pixabay.com