Examiner.com posted this article regarding Thanksgiving and towards the end exhorts people, not to quit the celebration, but to share the Truth of it’s history.
The only concern I have with the telling of the “Truth” of Thanksgiving is the vast amounts of “Truths” out there! Even among the links at the bottom of the post, and in internet search engines, you will find different versions of what, where, when and why Thanksgiving came to be. History has been mauled by those in control and there is little agreement as to the details of this holiday. It vacillates from the Spanish being the first to gather and give thanks to the Creator with a Mass of gratitude (although I think that one is not supposed to count because it was the Spanish), the Pilgrims, George Washington, Lincoln… all the way up to recent history, when congress passed it into law. Then there are all the different native Nations who suffered the brunt of the initial brutalities upon meeting the Europeans, just before they celebrated these feasts! Who’s Truth do we share then?
I do not disagree with the author’s encouragement to “instill in them [the children], the truth.” However, as inferred above, that Truth can very well be subjective. Depending on the way you look at it, you change the focus of the story. At no moment do I deny the horrors of our history and I believe that the truth of our past should be taught; to each child the history of their Nation first and then that of our cousins. But there is also a higher truth to be taught in the celebration of Thanksgiving, a truth that is not of the Europeans but of our very culture.
Daily gratitude to the Creator was something the people of the Americas did on a regular basis, several times a day, if necessary. If you google the NA code of ethics the very first “code” is :
“Each morning upon rising, and each evening before sleeping, give thanks for the life within you and for all life, for the good things the Creator has given you and for the opportunity to grow a little more each day. Consider your thoughts and actions of the past day and seek for the courage and strength to be a better person. Seek for the things that will benefit others (everyone).”
This is pretty much the same attitude found in The Gospel of the Redman, a book written in in the 30’s about native religion as seen through white eyes. It states the native way of life was one of spirituality and gratitude:
“When you arise in the morning, give thanks for the morning light. Give thanks for your life and strength. Give thanks for your food and give thanks for the joy of living. And if perchance you see no reason for giving thanks, rest assured the fault is in yourself.”
and the comment in the same book:
“…my God is with me everyday and all the time.”
My point in presenting these examples is not to propagate the romantic notions of indigenous peoples of old, but to point out one of the very core teachings of the Native Nations: gratitude. This “Attitude of Gratitude” is one of the most positive things we could nurture and grow within ourselves and our children; gratitude for the lives we have, gratitude for the friends and family we have to share it with, gratitude for our survival as a people and gratitude for our growth as a Nation, now and in the future. If we as Indigenous Peoples, as families, as human beings, can come together and share in the spirit of gratitude for all these things, we will provide our children a better understanding of who we are and where we came from. We will be able to refocus on our history as something that happened to our people in the past and be grateful to the Creator that we have overcome. We will instill in our children the knowing that we may not have control of the situations we find ourselves in, we can’t control what others do or say, but we always have control over how we choose to see it- our attitude. We can celebrate our present and work on our future as opposed to mourning the past.
Yes, the past has it’s place, it should be remembered, honored and learned from, just not lived in.
And I would add that to what Jacqueline Keeler says in her post regarding Thanksgiving :
Because if we can survive, with our ability to share and to give intact, then the evil and the good will that met that Thanksgiving day in the land of the Wampanoag will have come full circle.