EXPLORE THE NATIVE AMERICAN SIDE OF THANKSGIVING

Are you ready for something different this Thanksgiving? Have your rituals of food, family and football become ruts?

Try sitting on the other side of the table, so to speak – the Indian side. After all, November is Native American Heritage Month. 

Here are a few suggestions to get you started.

-Learn what really happened at that first Thanksgiving Feast, and a whole lot more besides. “This Land Is Their Land: The Wampanoag Indians, Plymouth Colony, and the Troubled History of Thanksgiving” by historian Daniel J. Silverman busts the myths of our grade-school pageants while introducing us to Indian reality in 17th century Massachusetts. Deep divisions opened within tribes over whether to welcome or attack ever-more-numerous colonists. Trading for European goods bolstered a tribe’s power and prestige, but the costs of contact included plague, violence and alcohol.

-Plan to attend a powwow. The website PowWows.com offers a state-by-state listing of events, as well as an etiquette guide and Native American sources of powwow supplies and regalia.

-Research whether you have enough Native American ancestry to join a tribe. The U.S. Department of the Interior offers a “Trace Indian Ancestry” page to get you started. 

-Visit a museum of American Indian history, art and culture. PowWows.com has compiled a list of 10 (https://www.powwows.com/10-of-the-best-native-american-museums-in-the-united-states/). They’re located in Taos, New Mexico, Pittsburgh, Clewiston, Florida, Salamanca, New York, Phoenix, Warner, New Hampshire, Indianapolis, Onchiota, New York, Rapid City, South Dakota and Washington, D.C.

-Donate; see the Native American Heritage Fund, the American Indian College Fund, the Warrior Women Project and the covid fund at First Nations.   

-Attend the National Day of Mourning in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Since 1970, the event on Thanksgiving Day has acknowledged the genocide, land theft and strength in action of Native Americans. 

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