Thanksgiving Toolkit – Unlearn history and Take Action

“Thanksgiving needs another transformation,
a day to mourn US colonization and attempted genocide
and celebrate the survival of Native Nations through their resistance.

  – Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz, Indigenous historian

Dear Friends,

For many of us, the holiday called Thanksgiving is an important time of coming together with family and friends. But the feel-good narrative on which this celebration is based – the mythology of generous Pilgrims showing gratitude to the Indigenous people who welcomed their settlement – hides and erases the genocide this country was built on. For many Native people, Thanksgiving is a National Day of Mourning, marked by the first Thanksgiving which was a feast held by Governor Winthrop in 1637 to thank those that helped him massacre the Pequot people.

What would it mean for us to tell a different story; an honest story?

This day gives us a chance to look at and change stories we have inherited – both about our families and the history of the United States. To this end, Catalyst contributed to this Rethinking ‘Thanksgiving’ Toolkit with the Indigenous Solidarity Group of Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ). The toolkit is geared for white folks to learn a more truthful history of Thanksgiving, and to connect to and support Indigenous organizing today. Check it out, share it around, talk to people in your life about it, and take action with others to support the powerful Indigenous movements of our time.

Right now, Indigenous organizers are calling on all of us to help protect millions of acres of Indigenous land (some under ‘public domain’) in Alaska and the Southwest from oil and gas exploitation. Check out the Gwich’in Steering Committee who will be leading a delegation to Washington, DC, to hold a week of action on December 5-12 to protect Arctic Wildlife Refuge and Gwich’in Homelands. The week of actions coincides with FrackOff Greater Chaco’s call to action to protect Greater Chaco Canyon. Follow The Red Nation for updates and ways to support.

If you’re in the Bay Area, join us this Friday for the 19th annual prayer gathering and protest at the Emeryville Shellmound where the Bay Street Mall was built on top of a sacred site and the largest burial ground in the East Bay. 

Wherever you are, find Indigenous organizing to connect with. Let’s use Thanksgiving as a reminder to unlearn the histories we’ve been taught and redouble our commitment to supporting Indigenous struggle.

With love,
Dylan Cooke
On behalf of Catalyst Project