a word about Thanksgiving
by core team member nicHi douglas
what is the Thanksgiving holiday? most liberal Americans will say that it's really just a time to celebrate family, passively acknowledging their understanding of the sordid history attached to the tradition, but escaping that truth through a more palatable reframing. sadly, our relationship to history is not passive and it cannot be ignored, especially when it repeats itself. just last week, Mashpee Wampanoags rallied at the U.S. Capitol to protect their sovereignty and tribal land base because the current Presidential Administration has decided to rescind a 2015 federal designation to hold land on behalf of the tribe. the Wampanoag are the people most historians consider to be the tribe associated with the idyllic re-imagining of the very first Thanksgiving. so it seems particularly appalling that this Administration is moving to erase these people, again. once more, I find myself torn between the American traditions of joyous holiday dining, parades, and freewheeling capitalism, and the American tradition of theft. so what am I supposed to do today?
we asked acclaimed director, Madeline Sayet (Mohegan), what is on her mind this Thanksgiving. After similarly stating the difficulty of thinking about this holiday, Madeline said, "Thankfulness is important. Gratitude is something that should be celebrated more often. But part of being thankful is knowing where in space and time we sit, in relationship to the stories of the land we are on, and the erasure of the fight of indigenous peoples in that narrative is ongoing . . . ". giving thanks is a massive part of indigenous life: thanks to the land, thanks to the ancestors, and thanks to the Creator and other gods. and these thanks do not fall on just one day a year. the practice I am most interested in learning and exercising this year is the practice of daily gratitude -- to habitually recognize and speak truth to the many contributing factors that make my life (and my family's lives) possible.
I am thankful for family.
I am thankful we are able to buy, cook, and share a meal.
I am thankful for the land on which we meet, land that has known many people before mine arrived.
I honor those people. and I give thanks for them -- their existence, their struggle, their future.
and tomorrow I will give thanks again.