For me, Thanksgiving is an opportunity to gather with friends and family and give thanks for all our blessings. Many thank God; others thank our nation; others thank those such as our military troops who defend the nation. All who thank on this day are truly righteous!
At the same time, a growing number of Americans criticize this day of thanks claiming the celebration honors colonization and the theft of native land. Hanna LeBaron wrote on social media:
Opinion alert! I’m an outsider observer. I have never understood Thanksgiving. Now looking from both perspectives the offspring of colonialists and immigrants and Native Americans, my feeling is to not celebrate Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a colonial celebration and it is a hurtful holiday for the native peoples of this land. Everyone gets to learn the history and decide what’s right.
Love for everyone this day and peace, please.
What Is Thanksgiving?
Thanksgiving is about GIVING THANKS and sharing good times with friends and family. The first Thanksgiving witnessed people escaping religious persecution and oppression gathering with Native People, the Wampanoag. Together they gave thanks and shared their good fortune.
There were about 102 passengers on the Mayflower. They had to live on the ship as they worked to build homes in the region of New England. About 50% died the first year. All were thankful just to be alive. None stole land or committed atrocities. The Wampanoag people joined with the Pilgrims to celebrate.
Their example set the table for our modern Thanksgiving.
More divisive groups, such as Black Lives Matter, want to turn this day of giving thanks to our nation, our defenders, and our family and friends to one of shame. Shame on them!
If BLM is correct, then the USA owns the moon. Americans were the first to set foot on this “new land.” Americans hoisted our flag. All others who follow will simply be colonizing the land we founded. Right?
I followed the link, native-land.ca, and received a number of caveats:
This map does not represent or intend to represent official or legal boundaries of any Indigenous nations. To learn about definitive boundaries, contact the nations in question.
Also, this map is not perfect — it is a work in progress with tons of contributions from the community. Please send us fixes if you find errors.
None of us can claim “ancestral homeland” on the moon. There is no dispute today in 2021 that the citizens of the USA first touched this soil in 1969. Americans own the moon. Can we also claim we own Mars?
I found myself dwelling on the pain of what I learned. I became angry and bitter during the holiday and ashamed to celebrate with my family when Thanksgiving rolled around. I especially struggled with this anger around the Thanksgiving holiday when I worked as a resource aide in an elementary school.Corinne Oestreich
Corinne Oestreich, guest writer on HuffPost, says, “As A Native American, Here’s What I Want My Fellow Americans To Know About Thanksgiving: Take time during dinner to recognize whose traditional lands you give thanks on.”
Corinne reports she grew up in the Silicon Valley of California. She was born in the city and has lived there her entire life, as an “Urban Native.” Her grandfather moved to California from Mohawk territory in the 1950s after he served in Korea. Her Oyaté (family) has all lived in Sunnyvale ever since.
Corinne says, “As a child, Thanksgiving was for me what it is for most children ― a day when you spend time with family, talking or thinking about what you’re thankful for.”
If Corinne lives in Sunnyvale, she likely now lives on land she claims was “stolen” from some other people. How can she live with herself? She’s a tribal member living on land originally founded by another tribe. Isn’t she a thief just as she claims the rest of us are?
The more Corinne studies, the more disenchanted she has become. For her, this day of giving thanks to God, family and country now upsets her. Isn’t this sad? What has she gained in her “wokeness”?
There are haters in America. They spend their time looking backward and hoping to divide us today. None of our ancestors were perfect. Native People had wars with other tribes. They raped, scalped and stole from others. They took what was not theirs.
European settlers came by the millions to this new land. They were told there was available land. Some built homes and communities. At times, they were attacked by Native People. In turn, they attacked. This Clash of Civilization led to war and violence. We know the outcome.
Did Native People own the continent? Does the USA own the moon?
Who Owns Hawai’i?
In Hawai’i, we suffer similar social and political battles. Some say Polynesians arrived first. However, who was first?
When the first Europeans arrived in 1778, British captain James Cook discovered Polynesians likely from Bora Bora, Tahiti or the Marquesas islands. Historical research suggests they were not the first.
Between 1780-1810, a tribal chief by the name of Kamehameha waged war in the eight major islands. Using British long guns and canons, he conquered rival chiefs, threw opponents off cliffs, and declared his reign over the newly-formed Hawai’i Kingdom. Did Kamehameha I have a moral right to call himself king? Didn’t he steal land from other Polynesians that was not his?
Dissimilar to the original 13 colonies of the USA, Kamehameha I forced others into his kingdom. Colonists in North America banded together freely to oppose a king across the Atlantic. At the same time in the Pacific, Kamehameha followed the British example of turning human beings into peasants, requiring taxes and labor, and ruling without representation.
Descendants of Kamehameha refer to themselves as the Kanaka Maoli. Recently, they blocked construction of a thirty-meter telescope on Mauna Kea located on Big Island. They claim they own the mountain and that this land is sacred to them.
To the Kanaka, I ask: does the USA own the moon? The Kanaka did not settle on the summit of Mauna Kea. In fact, in the 1880s, King Kalakaua asked British explorers to construct an observatory on the mountain. Kings for decades had leased or sold land on Big Island for the production of food products or raising of livestock.
Who owns Hawai’i? Who owns North America? Who owns the moon?
Maybe we should answer the questions of our own time before pointing fingers and assigning failure to those who lived in our past.
Happy Thanksgiving to all. I certainly agree with Corinne, “As a child, Thanksgiving was for me what it is for most children ― a day when you spend time with family, talking or thinking about what you’re thankful for.”
I’m thankful for all of you who support me and ClearHealthLife. Let’s make the upcoming year one of blessing, thanks and aloha — and love, much love!
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Ko’olau of Kaua’i. I am the Defiant One
“I Believe We Can”