Intro: I wrote this in (an online) group where marginalized people are prioritized. This time of year has always been incredibly difficult, and it was amplified last year with everything happening at Standing Rock, and the onslaught of posts, particularly in this group, alternating between variations of support of Standing Rock Water Protectors, and casting ‘thanksgiving’ in a positive light. There were none of the usual community call-outs, and a post by another NDN persxn about the pain that ‘thanksgiving’ celebrations bring was all but ignored, a few days prior to this posting. I have made some edits for clarity, but it is essentially what I wrote in an exasperated desire to speak to ongoing intergenerational trauma and its societal and individual perpetuation.
K, so non-Natives need to STOP making posts promoting and looking for ‘thanksgiving’ events in all forms, and casually making jokes akin to haha genocide, cause this is violence, especially when Indigenous bodies are being brutalized at Standing Rock and all over occupied Turtle Island, which is nothing new in this settler-colonial society. Gawddamn, y’all know this group is supposed to be intersectional. Take that shit somewhere else cause it’s like you’re spitting in our faces as you walk on top of our ancestors. Fuck Christopher Columbus, this whole settler-colonial government and the incoming one, ‘thanksgiving’, and ur willful ignorance in continuing to disseminate revisionist narratives of genocide, abuses in forced boarding and residential schools, stolen land, rape, decimation of language, decentralization and invisibilization of Two-Spirit/Queer/Trans Indigenous people, and on, and on, and on.
I will not be responding to comments cause I have enough yt tears right now, thnx. This post is also for non-Native PoC. Rethink your lateral oppression. And yes, even if you’re posting memes critiquing ‘thanksgiving’ but still celebrating it, then it doesn’t absolve you from participating in a narrative that bolsters itself on people’s inability to remember our hxstories in favor of ‘not being left out’, or feeling awkward. Yes, your “friendsgiving” and ‘unthanksgiving’ are the same as ‘thanksgiving.’ Calling a celebration of yt supremacy and genocide by another name is actually a really sinister form of violence that is constantly used by the oppressor to co-opt and invalidate justified anger and pain. Erasing all hxstories ’til no one cares about anything anymore. Not even the water, the land, or each other. And then y’all wonder why fascism is more out in the open now. It was always there. It was always there.
Some suggestions for ways to support Indigenous people that I have done the labor of coming up with, which many others have already spoken to over time:
-At the federal, state, and local level, petition for the removal of ‘thanksgiving’, and the addition of a holiday which is -not- on ’thanksgiving’, which remembers the massacres of members of the Pequot Nation, Wampanoag Nation, and all Indigenous people on Turtle Island, as well as honors Indigenous peoples of today, who are still here, and are still resisting settler-colonialism. Congress must designate federal holidays and while this is probably the last thing the current party majority would do, do not let that be a deterrent. Eventually the majority will change, and federal holidays are not removed nor created without a lot of political pressure, so it’s important to be vigilant.
Each state also decides individually whether federal holidays are observed, and can recognize other days that are not federal holidays as state holidays. So it is possible to put pressure on your government at the state and local level as well. Think of how cities such as Berkeley, Denver, and Phoenix now celebrate Indigenous People’s Day instead of Columbus Day. ‘Victory Day’ was once in observance from 1948-1975, every year on September 2nd. It is possible to do this. Even more so since the actual benefits of the holiday, such as the potential for time off from work and school would not be changing, just shifting what month/day they are celebrated. Most importantly, the -why- of the celebration would shift, and this would have huge immediate and future implications. Things have not always been this way. Help the dead rest, and the living move forward.
-Refuse to celebrate ‘thanksgiving’, and educate others about why you don’t celebrate it in a variety of ways, including but not limited to online forums, groups, personal blog, as well as in persxn. Tell your cashier at the grocery store, tell your uncle, tell your classmate. Tell everyone.
-Find out whose land you live on, and reach out to them to offer your emotional, physical, spiritual, and/or financial support. Donate to organizations that support Indigenous issues, and have Indigenous people in leaderships positions. Pay particular attention to marginalized populations within the already marginalized Indigenous population: 2SLGBTQIA+ people, people who are sick and/or disabled, etc.
Jacqs Aspensong Nevarez is a Genderfluid Jicarilla Apache, Comanche, Chicanx, W. Irish Turtle Islander working on a chapbook called Anhedonia and Mixed Race Queer and Feminist Zine. They are currently attending SFSU and navigating life in Huichin (Oakland) on Chochenyo Ohlone lands.
Monique Sonoquie is a Salinan/Chumash/Apache/Yaqui/Zapotec/Irish photographer and works in traditional Maori Romiromi healing.