By Lisa Urlbauer, Medium, November 22, 2019
Next week, our friends in the U.S. are celebrating Thanksgiving. It’s a celebration of the blessings of the year, especially of the harvest — enjoyed by many with turkey, stuffing, and pie.
Thanksgiving is also a good opportunity to learn about indigenous communities. “There’s just no way to celebrate Thanksgiving without celebrating Native genocide,” says a citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. When the pilgrims arrived, the Wampanoag tribe had already inhabited the area of Plymouth, or Patuxet, for an estimated 10,000 years. For indigenous communities, the first gathering of 1621 was followed by a tense relationship with the settlers, then brutality and enslavement.
Today, 6.6 million people, two percent of the American population, identify as Native American or Alaska Native. And while the narrative around them often focuses on the very real issues they face, it also frequently paints them as powerless victims. That robs them of vital aspects of their cultural heritage like strength, creativity, and connectedness. My colleague Katherine Noble-Goodman has created a collection of eight stories celebrating indigenous knowledge. Three of them I’d like to highlight here.