I only recently heard about Truthsgiving, one of many things I learned from my new friends as we walked during the First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March in September, 2018. The subject came up as we were eating dinner together in Boone, Iowa. The other pictures are from the next morning as we were leaving Boone. (see photos below).
Today most of us White people know the traditional story of Thanksgiving is a lie. But people continue to celebrate Thanksgiving with family gatherings, saying that is what Thanksgiving means to them now. But “the truth is that real history has been whitewashed and that Thanksgiving perpetuates white supremacy and romanticized notions about Indigenous Peoples. To celebrate the current Thanksgiving mythology is to celebrate the theft of land through ethnic cleansing and enslavement.”
I’m so glad my friends have created a website of resources to teach us about Truthsgiving. There are many resources there. https://www.truthsgiving.org/
Truthsgiving is enacted through truth telling. I’ve always said stories are so important, especially for trying to create change. That’s what I try to do on this blog.
ALL THAT WE ARE IS STORY.Richard Wagamese (October 14, 1955-March 10, 2017)
From the moment we are born to the time we continue on our spirit journey, we are involved in the creation of the story of our time here. It is what we arrive with. It is all we leave behind. We are not the things we accumulate. We are not the things we deem important. We are story. All of us. What comes to matter then is the creation of the best possible story we can while we’re here; you, me, us, together. When we can do that and we take the time to share those stories with each other, we get bigger inside, we see each other, we recognize our kinship — we change the world one story at a time
Ojibwe from Wabeseemoong Independent Nations, Canada
I also love reading the quote above, that Truthsgiving must be enacted through mutual aid. Mutual aid is a wonderful concept my friend Ronnie James has been teaching me about. Teaching by example as we and other friends put together boxes of food to give away each Saturday morning. https://atomic-temporary-82209146.wpcomstaging.com/?s=mutual+aid Des Moines Mutual Aid is a partner of the Truthsgiving Collective.
There are many colonial mythologies about Indigenous Peoples and the founding of the US and Canada. Thanksgiving is one of them, however, in the words of Wamsutta Frank James, Wampanoag, “the Pilgrims had hardly explored the shores of Cape Cod four days before they had robbed the graves of my ancestors, and stolen their corn, wheat, and beans.” The truth is that real history has been whitewashed and that Thanksgiving perpetuates white supremacy and romanticized notions about Indigenous Peoples. To celebrate the current Thanksgiving mythology is to celebrate the theft of land through ethnic cleansing and enslavement. It is a lie that overlooks the genocide of Native American Indigenous Peoples and the enslavement of African Indigenous Peoples in order for settler-vigilantes and colonial militias to steal land and labor–the legacy of which is still felt today.TRUTHSGIVING The Truth Will Not be Whitewashed
Truthsgiving is an ideology that must be enacted through truth telling and mutual aid to discourage colonized ideas about the thanksgiving mythology—not a name switch so we can keep doing the same thing. It’s about telling and doing the truth on this day so we can stop dangerous stereotypes and whitewashed history from continuing to harm Indigenous lands and Peoples, as well as Black, Latinx, Asian-American and all oppressed folks on Turtle Island.https://www.truthsgiving.org/about
The idea of Truthsgiving did not emerge from anything new. Indigenous Peoples across Turtle Island have been resisting this mythology since its inception, even when they did not know about it, simply because we have resisted colonization and genocide since Columbus set foot on the lands of the Lucayan People (now known as the Bahamas).
Modern resistance to the holiday began during the rise of the Red Power movement during the civil rights era. According to Sikowis, “In 1970, the National Day of Mourning was instituted by James, the United American Indians of New England, and the local Wampanoag community as a resistance to Thanksgiving. This alternative holiday is held at Plymouth Rock and has occurred annually for almost 50 years. The National Day of Mourning also coincides with an event on the other side of the country that takes place on Alcatraz Island (an important Native American site). Unthanksgiving Day, also known as The Indigenous Peoples Sunrise Ceremony, is a large cultural event that has been held annually since 1975 and commemorates the Alcatraz-Red Power Movement occupation of 1969. There are, in fact, many anti-Thanksgiving events that occur around the country each year — one of which I have co-organized, called Truthsgiving.”
There are also many other resistance events held all over Turtle Island every year through Indigenous-led organizations and family gatherings where the mythology is overridden. That is how Truthsgiving emerged–as a family gathering to resist Thanksgiving that then turned into local celebrations in Iowa City, organized by Great Plains Action Society founder, Sikowis.
This website was created to uplift the collective efforts of Tribal Nations, Indigenous-led organizations and Indigenous Persons that are attempting to abolish institutionalized and aggrandized white supremacy that is supported through the thanksgiving mythology. It is, so far, a collective effort by organizations in the Midwest.https://www.truthsgiving.org/about