Thanksgiving is a Day of Mourning for Some Native Tribes

Yesterday I wrote about the Truthsgiving Pledge. The first step of the Pledge is to educate ourselves. The second step is to educate others. The Truthsgiving.org website has many resources to help us do that.

One way to get the attention of your nonnative friends is to tell them Thanksgiving is a Day of Mourning for some native tribes. Putting it that way helps teach how deeply traumatic colonization was not only historically, but continues to be today. Trauma is passed from generation to generation.

It is good to talk with our friends. And these days of social media provide powerful platforms we can use to spread the Truthsgiving message (step 2 of the Pledge). You can write about Truthsgiving in your own words. And/or share this link to the Truthsgiving website: https://www.truthsgiving.org/

Truthsgiving Pledge cropped.png

Thanksgiving Is a Day of Mourning for Some Native Tribes

It’s important to know that for many Native Americans, Thanksgiving is a day of mourning and protest since it commemorates the arrival of settlers in North America and the centuries of oppression and genocide that followed after.

For the last 51 years, the United American Indians of New England have organized a rally and day of mourning on  Thanksgiving. Here’s what they have to say about this choice to mourn:

“Thanksgiving day is a reminder of the genocide of millions of Native people, the theft of Native lands, and the relentless assault on Native culture. Participants in National Day of Mourning honor Native ancestors and the struggles of Native peoples to survive today. It is a day of remembrance and spiritual connection as well as a protest of the racism and oppression which Native Americans continue to experience.”

Some Native Americans mourn publicly and openly, while some simply refrain from participating in this national holiday.

This Thanksgiving, Join Us in Remembrance

Here at Native Hope, we hope that this Thanksgiving, the hearts of all people, Native and non-Native, are filled with hope, healing, and a desire to dismantle the barriers—physical, economic, educational, psychological, and spiritual— that divide us and oppress us.

This time of year, and these two holidays, Thanksgiving and Native American Heritage Day, give us the opportunity to reflect on our collective history and to celebrate the beauty, strength, and resilience of the Native tribes of North America.

We remember the generosity of the Wampanoag tribe to the helpless settlers.

We remember the hundreds of thousands of Native Americans who lost their lives at the hands of colonialists and the genocide of whole tribes.

We remember the vibrant and powerful Native descendants, families, and communities that persist to this day throughout the culture and the country.

We remember people like Sharice Davids and Debra Haaland who in 2018 became the first Native American women elected to Congress.

What Does Thanksgiving Mean to Native Americans?


Every year on Thanksgiving, the United American Indians of New England holds its own commemoration — a protest and march known as the National Day of Mourning in Plymouth, MA. Kisha James, a 17-year-old high school student of Lakota and Wampanoag descent, has been attending the Thanksgiving Day protests her whole life. She shared her story and what it means to her to be a Native American woman on Thanksgiving with Refinery29

I remember vividly my first Thanksgiving in elementary school. The teacher sat the entire kindergarten class down and asked us to share what we were thankful for and talk about what we were going to do to celebrate that Thursday. Everybody else before me was like, “Oh, I’m going to be traveling to see my family,” or “I’m going to be eating this amazing Thanksgiving dinner.” When it got to me, of course, I didn’t have those traditions to share. Instead, I was attending a protest.

For Me, Thanksgiving Is A “Day Of Mourning” by KISHA JAMES, Refinery29, NOVEMBER 21, 2016

Decolonizing Thanksgiving: A Toolkit for Combatting Racism in Schools by Lindsey Passenger Wieck, Medium, Nov 11, 2018


Native Land Map

Native Land Map: A map showing the traditional homelands of Indigenous peoples of North America and Australia.

Our Mission

We strive to map Indigenous lands in a way that changes, challenges, and improves the way people see the history of their countries and peoples. We hope to strengthen the spiritual bonds that people have with the land, its people, and its meaning.

We strive to map Indigenous territories, treaties, and languages across the world in a way that goes beyond colonial ways of thinking in order to better represent how Indigenous people want to see themselves.

We provide educational resources to correct the way that people speak about colonialism and indigeneity, and to encourage territory awareness in everyday speech and action.


This entry was posted in decolonize, First Nations, Indigenous, Native Americans, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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