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Learn & Unlearn: Anti-racism Resource Guide


Original post on @saic.maffairs 11/29/2020.

Foundation: Stereotypes, Prejudice, Discrimination, Oppression

A Quick History Lesson on Thanksgiving

The story of the first Thanksgiving dinner is much different than the version of our history books. Look closer and you’ll see that a joyful harvest meal erases the genocide, colonization, and theft of land from the Indigenous and Native people to whom this is their homeland. The assumptions and stereotypes we construct through our Thanksgiving narrative continuously impact how we perceive and represent Indigenous stories (See Lesson: Stereotypes, Prejudice and Discrimination).

It’s up to us. We need to re-learn, rethink, rework, and revolutionize our Thanksgiving, and we can do so without rejecting the holiday! Our holiday traditions can be revolutionized to honor, and recognize history without perpetuating harm or oppression  (See Lesson: Oppression). Food and our celebrations around meals can be some of the most sacred moments in our lives.  Use this time to reflect and honor the traditional Indigenous and Native people who reside in this land past, present, and future.


“How does the whitewashing of Thanksgiving impact the first people of this land and our relationship to food? And how do we reclaim and rematriate the seeds of our ceremonial food ways?” — Zenobia Jeffries Warfield1

To Research

To Read

To Listen

To Watch

To Follow

To Act

  • Redefining and Decolonizing Thanksgiving
    • Reflect on the word Decolonization:
      “Decolonization is the process of deconstructing colonial ideologies of the superiority and privilege of Western thought and approaches."2
    • Address foundational myths behind Thanksgiving.
    • Know whose land you are on. Learn the history of the land you occupy. How resources are distributed, where these resources come from.
    • Reflect on family history
  • How Can We Rethink, Rework, and Revolutionize Thanksgiving Celebrations?
    • Before enjoying your meal, take a moment of silence. Remember and honor the ancestors and people occupying this land before colonization. 
    • In some households, American history is completely detached from Thanksgiving itself. Now considered “Family Day,” many families focus on reflecting, gratitude, and family bonding instead.
    • Prepare and enjoy a meal using ingredients native to your location! Experiment with decolonizing your dinner for the evening. 
    • Giving back to those without families to spend time with or a meal to enjoy. Donate your time or money to those in need!
    • Opt in to celebrate the Day of Mourning in honor Native ancestors and the struggles within indigenous communities today and historically. 
    • Read and celebrate Indigenous stories! 
    • Stand with Standing Rock. Take the time to educate yourself and others; donate if you’re able to!
    • Plant and support native biodiversity in your community. Repair the damage of colonization on the Earth. 

To Reflect

  • Where did you learn the history of Thanksgiving? How has your relationship with this history changed?
  • Whose ancestral lands are you living on?
  • What opportunities do you have to bring awareness to the harmful misrepresentation of this history? 

Works Cited

  1. M. Karlos Baca, “Decolonizing Thanksgiving and Reviving Indigenous Relationships To Food”, NDN Collective, 2018. 
  2. Ian Cull, Robert L. A. Hancock, Stephanie McKeo, “Pulling Together: A Guide for Front-Line Staff, Student Services and Advisors,” BCcampus Open Textbooks, 2018.