With this holiday season being different than any other, let’s take advantage of the opportunity to make new traditions. Those who celebrate Thanksgiving will host or attend smaller gatherings in compliance with CDC’s safety protocol for the holidays.
While it is unfortunate and upsetting that we must sacrifice events we normally look forward to for the wellbeing of our health and safety, let’s reflect on the sacrifice that America’s Indigenous peoples were forced to make. Rather than sulk over our cancelled parties, let’s view this time of year as our First peoples do, a time of mourning.
That’s right, some Native Americans do not celebrate Thanksgiving at all. What we learned as young students about the arrival of English peoples in 1620 was far from a peaceful feast between Pilgrims and Wampanoags. Since we were wrongly taught the historical significance of “Colombus Day,” now renamed Indigenous People’s Day, and wrongly taught about Thanksgiving, it is our responsibility to re-teach ourselves as well as our families the truth.
We can begin these lessons with a brief introduction of reading a few articles that shed light on the stains forever left on United State’s history:
USA Today’s “After a summer of racial reckoning, is America ready to learn the truth about Thanksgiving?”
Cape Cod Times’s “Not all Native Americans celebrate Thanksgiving. Find out why.”
Bridgewater State University’s “Recognizing Indigenous People”
2020 marks the 400th year anniversary of the founding of Plymouth colony and the “historic interaction between the Wampanoag and English Peoples.” The Plymouth 400 Commemoration was originally planned to feature a year of events including a tour of Massachusetts.
A weekend was originally set to take place here at Bridgewater State University where the entire campus would have been devoted to a major event through Plymouth 400 providing students, faculty and staff the opportunity to volunteer and get involved. However, due to Covid-19 this was replaced with a virtual event, Here it Began: 2020 Hindsight or Foresight Indigenous History Conference.
I am proud that our university is making strides to help us become better educated and more empathetic people. 53% of BSU students are first-generation students, meaning more than half of our student body represent the first person in their family to attend college for a bachelor’s degree.
Not everyone has the privilege of higher education. This holiday, when your family presses you with questions about what you’re studying, take it as a chance to make them feel enlightened. Give them the best gift, the feeling of learning something new.