Thanksgiving is a complicated day for many Native Americans. In fact, since 1970, Indigenous people and their allies have gathered in Plymouth to commemorate a National Day of Mourning on Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving Day is a reminder of the genocide of millions of Native people, the theft of Native lands, and the erasure of Native cultures. The National Day of Mourning honors Indigenous ancestors and Native resilience, is a day of remembrance and spiritual connection, as well as a protest against the racism and oppression that Indigenous people continue to experience across the world. Learn more about the National Day of Mourning from the United American Indians of New England at www.uaine.org
The story of the “First Thanksgiving” is a myth that emerged in the mid 1800s, and romanticized depictions of the dinner shared between Pilgrims and generic, nameless Indians were used to support Manifest Destiny as settlers pushed to the west. The actual history behind the interaction is much more complex and nuanced – so much so that the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian has created a study guide about it titled “Harvest Ceremony: Beyond the Thanksgiving Myth”.
For Snoqualmie, voicing gratitude and giving thanks to our lands and waters which provide us with our first foods, to the plants and foods themselves, and to those who prepared the food, is a way of being, rather than a single day practice.
Rather than perpetuating the Thanksgiving myth, there are many more meaningful ways individuals can celebrate this holiday which reject Native erasure, and uplift and support Tribal voices and work to protect our lands and cultural resources.
Here are some suggestions for how you can celebrate Thanksgiving this year:
Learn more about the Snoqualmie Tribe | The Snoqualmie Tribe has many resources available to members of the public about our lands, our culture, our language, and how individuals can support the Tribe. Check out these links to learn more:
- Tribal Website
- Culture Website
- Environmental & Natural Resources Website
- Snoqualmie Tribe Ancestral Lands Movement
Learn About Snoqualmie’s First Foods | Many of our traditional foods are threatened and increasingly hard to find, due to land use changes following sellers arriving on our ancestral lands. It is common knowledge in the region that the salmon populations have been significantly impacted, but are you aware of these other traditional first foods?
- spəqʷulc (wapato) – once found readily throughout the Snoqualmie Valley and beyond, spəqʷulc is now increasingly hard to find. Water quality is also important to determining of the spəqʷulc that remains is safe to eat, and pollution in waterways has had a bit impact.
- Learn about Snoqualmie’s connection to spəqʷulc and how the Tribe is working to restore it on our lands at this storymap: https://bit.ly/3XGvo8r
- c̓abid (camas) – c̓abid once flourished in Meadowbrook Prairie (baqʷab) which was stewarded as a native prairie since time immemorial by the Snoqualmie people until we were pushed out from the area by arriving settlers who transformed the prairie into a farm and other later uses. The Tribe is now working to try and restore camas to our prairie, which will require generations to accomplish, and cooperation from local governments which now legally own the land.
- Learn more about Snoqualmie’s connection to c̓abid and restoration efforts here: https://enr.snoqualmietribe.us/spring-camas-2023/
Support Tribal Businesses | Tribal businesses provide jobs to over 1700 individuals including Snoqualmie Tribal Members and other Natives, and the revenues and taxes from the businesses support many Tribal programs including education, health & wellness, land restoration, protection of cultural resources & sacred sites, and Tribal cultural programs. Snoqualmie Tribe’s businesses include:
Support Tribal Lands Being Returned to Tribes (Land Back) | Snoqualmie and other Indigenous people are deeply connected to our lands even though we have been forcibly removed from them through colonization. Our lands have been mined, logged, scraped, and transformed by extractionist activities and they need to be protected. Individuals can support Land Back efforts by frequenting Tribal businesses and by publicly voicing support for Tribal lands to be returned to the Tribe.
Here are some resources about how the Tribe has invested in reclaiming its ancestral lands, and the importance of Tribal ownership of land:
- Seattle Times – Why we should transfer ‘land back’ to Indigenous people:
- National Audubon: How Tribes are Reclaiming and Protecting their Ancestral Lands from Coast to Coast:
- Snoqualmie Tribe starts land protection tax at Salish Lodge
Read a Book by a Native Author | Many books depicting Native Americans are written and illustrated by individuals who are not Native themselves, and unfortunately there are many other examples of cultural appropriation in literature. Stories are critical to Tribal communities, and it’s important that our stories are treated with care and respect, so it matters who the author and illustrator are. Even better, consider buying from a Native-owned bookstore like Birchbark Books in Minneapolis which is owned by Louise Erdrich (enrolled Turtle Mountain Chippewa).
- Birchbark Books has many fantastic books! Here is a link to the page with books related to Food & Cooking: https://birchbarkbooks.com/collections/food-cooking