Friday, November 29, 2013

"Edibles consisted of a surf-and-turf spread of venison, wild turkey, guinea fowl (also called turkey, although Natives referred to it as peru), pea fowl, goose, duck, swan and partridge, along with the surf part consisting of clams, eel, cod and lobster, along with maize bread, pumpkin and other squashes."Read more at

I appreciate having lots of conscientious friends on facebook preaching about the Thanksgiving holiday and the need to realize we don't often talk about the real story or consider or focus on the treatment of native peoples in the U.S. after the entry of the European settlers. 

This morning on a run through the lovely woods, I was listening to a story about Kiribati and how by 2030 is will be mostly underwater and if there's a huge wave the 32 islands could be eliminated much earlier. The interview asked the reporter if he felt guilty about the situation due to sea-level rise which is caused by industrialized countries in the north and not by the I-Kiribati. He said along the lines of: I'm not the right person to ask because I feel guilty about everything (dude, I can identify). And he went on to say what amazes him is that the President of Kiribati is angry at places like the U.S. and China but knows ultimately that may not help his cause of trying to prepare his people who have been on the island for more than 5000 years, make a transition to other countries as migrant workers rather than poor refugees. Then the reporter said this would probably be the first case of forced migration of an entire population because of climate change. 

That caught my ear. First, ever? What about people that had to go over the land bridge? Obviously, that wasn't his point. His point was man-made climate change forcing populations to move. Not just natural climate shifts 20,000 years ago. Point taken. 

So... guilt. How far back should memories go?

One of the things Kiribati has requested is reparations. China and America should pay up for their pollution and help these I-Kiribati move. Given recent payments by the U.K. to the Mau-Mau survivors in Kenya and the turning tide around climate change, or maybe I should say the early waves of change - maybe someday there will be reparations for the Kiribati. Fourteen Caribbean Islands are requesting reparations for the legacy of slavery two centuries old. It should certainly be discussed. 

What's the take away?

1) I really want to be able to enjoy Thanksgiving, the one American* holiday that doesn't feel like it's about glorifying our violent nation (Veteran's Day**, Memorial Day, 4th of July) or buying things (Christmas, Halloween, all holidays because of sales). (Now, obviously Thanksgiving is followed by one of the grossest consumer days in the U.S..) Nonetheless, I LOVE the idea of sharing a day over a meal where we allow ourselves to be thankful - secularly - for all the blessings in our lives. When we can gather with families and friends and not be worried about presents or getting to a house of worship or a tv special.

2) We should have so much more education about modern American Indians and about the huge variety of groups, including the Wampanoag, who are under-represented in U.S. history books and our conversations. And Thanksgiving shouldn't be the only day we bring it up. And we probably do need and will eventually get more reparations - monetary and otherwise in this world that I deeply want to believe will bend toward justice. 

So, thanks for those "surf and turf" thanksgiving of 1621 menu items and for teaching me our modern Thanksgiving traditions began after 1863 when Abraham Lincoln was trying to unite a war-riddled country. 

Preaching to the preachers over for the day! 

With gratitude and thanksgiving, 

*"American" when referring to something of the U.S. or the U.S. people, can also be guilt inducing - what about all the peoples of the Americas? Give me something better than United Statesian and I'll work with you.

**Please note that I feel that Veteran's is an incredibly important day to be thankful for the incredible sacrifices of human lives for others, as we believe in the causes of freedom, liberty and have been told that is what we are fighting to defend, and in many cases, have been. 

1 comment:

  1. Maybe I'll use every other 4th Thursday to learn more about American Indians.