A Thanksgiving Day Letter

from UUCB’s Honoring Indigenous Peoples Group

Hello everyone,

As we did last year, UUCB’s Honoring Indigenous Peoples Group offers these thoughts at this time of Thanksgiving.

When planning your celebration, please consider that while Thanksgiving is a beloved holiday for many, it is also a painful one for many. With the persistent retelling of the story of a joyous meal between Native Americans and Pilgrims, the holiday completely covers over the reality of the history of Native Americans. In short, Thanksgiving is based on a false narrative and has been called “The Day of Mourning” by some indigenous people.

The Thanksgiving story does not typically take into account the fact that huge populations of Indigenous peoples were killed, lands stolen, and children placed in boarding schools, forbidden to speak their native languages – all in an attempt to decimate Indigenous peoples and culture.

 So, as we gather together with family and friends – in person and virtually – consider some of the following:

  • Read up on some of the history around Thanksgiving.

    One Way to Honor Indigenous People This Thanksgiving — Kajora Lovely

    How to Decolonize Your Thanksgiving Dinner

    With Thanksgiving: A Native American View

    THANKSGIVING: A Day of Mourning

    8 Ways to Decolonize and Honor Native Peoples on Thanksgiving

  • Include a simple dish that honors Native Americans. For example, the Three Sisters – corn, beans and squash – prepared to your liking.  “Call in the spirits of the land and ancestors. Let them know this offering is out of respect, and you can also add anything else you like. For example, you can ask that the spirits and deities continue to guide and protect their living descendants.”

  • Read a land acknowledgement during your event – we offer one here – or make one of your own!

    During this Thanksgiving holiday, we acknowledge that our home sits on land formerly stewarded by the Muwekma Ohlone people. We pay deep respect to the ancestors and to members of Indigenous peoples in the community. We acknowledge the painful history of genocide and forced removal of Indigenous peoples from this land and extend honor and recognition to those still connected to this land. Colonization is an ongoing process, and it continues to harm. We commit ourselves to continue on the long road toward true equity and liberation for all.

  • Encourage conversations with questions such as:

    How has our awareness of Native American history, especially around land theft, changed over time? How is it different from what you learned in school?

    How did our family get to where we live? To this continent, state, and city?

    What family stories do we have that are in relationship to Indigenous people?

We are thankful for our awareness of the history of this holiday and this land, and we are committed to continue to highlight and contribute to the work currently being done by and for the people indigenous to this land.

Love and best wishes for this Thanksgiving holiday,

The Honoring Indigenous Peoples Group: Mimi Bull, Carol Carlisle, Rev. Michelle Collins, Ann Harlow, Lynne Henderson, Don Klose, Wyndy Knox Carr, Helen Tinsley-Jones, Anne Wardell, Julie Winkelstein