Un-Thanksgiving Day: Spreading Awareness of Indigenous People and Culture


Sofia Boughton

Un-Thanksgiving Day is around the corner. Depicted in the photo is The Native Thunderbird Symbol. He represents power, protection, and strength. He is often seen as the most powerful of all spirits.

Ever since childhood, students are taught about the Holiday Thanksgiving: A holiday about family, compassion, and love. It is a tradition in American culture to celebrate this holiday, including school and job breaks. However, not many people know the history behind this holiday, and how deep the history goes.

Due to the consequences of colonization, much of the stories told for Thanksgiving are told very light-heartedly to a number people, and glazed over when the genocide of indigenous folk are mentioned. History is usually told from the winners’ side, and it never gets to see the negatives of what colonizers had done to indigenous people as a whole. Much injustice is present, but it seems a number of people pretend they do not see it.

After the day of the first Thanksgiving in 1621, a mass-genocide was committed against indigenous people of America, and many lives were lost. Indigenous people are people whose historical and current territory has become taken over by the expansion of colonization. Leading to the creation of the holiday created by the indigenous people of America: Un-Thanksgiving Day.

Un-Thanksgiving Day, also known as The Indigenous Peoples Sunrise Ceremony, is an event held on Alcatraz Island, San Francisco Bay to honor the indigenous peoples of the Americas and promote their rights. This holiday also comes with the National Day of Mourning in Massachusetts. The National Day of mourning is an annual demonstration held on Thanksgiving Day that hopes to educate the general public about Indigenous people of America. Speeches are made for indigenous rights, and various elements of indigenous culture and heritage are celebrated.

This holiday is more important than ever this year, as the awareness of indigenous people is starting to dwindle, and their lives are still currently at risk. For example, Wet’suwet’en people, while in Canada, are facing hard times at the moment, with a pipeline, with an eviction notice given to them, along with them getting pushed out of the area if they do not abide by this pipeline. There have been a consistent number of marches standing in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en people. Another example is Line 3, an environmentally harmful pipeline that goes straight into indigenous peoples territory.

Thanksgiving Day is flawed, but people can still celebrate it, as it is a way for people to connect with their families and have a nice day watching the parade. However, flaws in the holiday should be noted, and indigenous voices should be heard and recognized during and after the holiday. However, if there’s recognition of the fakeness of this upcoming holiday, please also do a part to help Indigenous people in the front lines of the sovereignty and climate change fight. From Wet’suwet’en peoples territory being taken, to Line 3 and beyond, there are a lot of causes to donate to. Donating to indigenous foundations and fundraisers to help stop oil pipelines is the key to supporting people and Un-Thanksgiving Day.

There is still such a long way to go to educating the public about this holiday and its purpose, but slowly and surely people will become more aware.