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A Thanksgiving Reflection from Guest Columnist, Sara Robinson

Ha’a Newe, I want to thank Yufna for allowing me space to share my memories and thoughts regarding the Thanksgiving holiday. I am an Eastern Shoshone wiput (woman) and I was born, raised and live my life with my own family on the Wind River Indian Reservation. I grew up celebrating Thanksgiving with my family. On each side of my Tribal family trees, Eastern Shoshone and Skidi, we gathered to connect and renew familial relationships, cook banquet sized meals together, share stories, play card games like Squaw game, and share food together in our Circle. And we prayed for our Ancestors and Relatives as pitiful human beings. In a sweat lodge, in ceremony, at the Southern Baptist church, at the tribal community center, in our home. My Thanksgiving celebrations never focused on Pilgrams. Our public education system is at fault for building a whiteness-biased system promoting a false narrative of Thanksgiving, and Wampanoag citizens and settlers coming together in community space in the spirit of friendship and harmony. Whatever!! This biased Thanksgiving celebrates the arrival of outsiders, colonized settlers to North America, and centuries of genocide and racism to eradicate the original inhabitants of North America. On Thursday, November 23, 2023, the United States holiday known as Thanksgiving will be celebrated by America’s melting pot populous. In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln declared a national Proclamation for all the States of the Union (ME, NY, NH, VT, MA, CT, RI, PA, NJ, OH, IN, IL, KS, MI, WI, MN, IA, CA, NV, OR) to celebrate Thanksgiving Day during the Civil War (1861-1865). Fast forward to 1970, the United American Indians of New England declared the fourth Thursday in November, each year, to be recognized as the National Day of Mourning for Native Americans. On the East Coast, our Pequot Relatives acknowledge that in 1637, the Thanksgiving celebration is connected to English colonists’ massacre of a Pequot village and celebration of their Victory. This news leaves a nasty taste in your mouth. As Tribal Nations and Indigenous People, we are each unique and distinct in our Tribal lifeways that Creator bestowed on us, the Originals. I believe that we hold each other up through respect and love to live life based on our own personal upbringing and spiritual beliefs without judgement from the barrow ditch. On this upcoming Thanksgiving Day, I ask that you remember our Eastern Coast relatives who mourn Ancestors, and to speak truth of the historical events related to Thanksgiving.

Sara Robinson, Eastern Shoshone WCADVSA

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