Learn the true history of Thanksgiving and thank the thousands of years of environmental protection and Indigenous sustainability
Thanksgiving may seem a little different than usual this year, with fewer people gathering around the table but Thanksgiving is always a time to show gratitude – even if you aren’t able to spend it like you normally would
It also happens to be the perfect time to refresh the holiday’s true origins and to achieve this end, it is important to acknowledge its painful background – and the “decolonization” of our understanding of Thanksgiving – before celebrating the holiday’s current feelings of thanksgiving
At its best, Thanksgiving can be seen as a time to appreciate family and friends and the act of gratitude itself, not a celebration of early pilgrims Many Americans take Thanksgiving to spend a day with loved ones, and eat a big meal – often based on certain foods like turkey, potatoes, and corn Or maybe they attend some kind of religious service but, just like Columbus Day, many also consider Thanksgiving to be a reminder of the invasion, genocide and the ongoing marginalization of indigenous peoples.
Since the 1970s, Native Americans have gathered in New England on Thanksgiving Day to celebrate a National Day of Mourning that honors both the ancestors of the Aboriginal and those who still struggle to survive today in the face of institutionalized racial and cultural persecution is held in Plymouth ( Location of the first settlement for pilgrims) This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the first protest
National Day of Mourning is sponsored by the American Indians of New England (UAINE), who oppose the narrative of a mutually beneficial relationship between pilgrims and Native Americans argue that pilgrims were colonists who introduced sexism, racism, homophobia, prisons, and the caste system into The North American continent
On the West Coast, “Unthanksgiving Day” is experiencing a similar protest, and counter celebrations draw attention to the fabrication of the typical Thanksgiving story and the bleaching of colonial history in the United States Many mainstream narratives surrounding Thanksgiving tend to exclude the whole Thanksgiving story in Wampanoag – and whatever came about. By
Hearing indigenous voices, getting to know, celebrating and supporting indigenous people is an essential part of decolonizing our view of Thanksgiving but in these conversations as well, we learned more about the origins of sustainable food in the United States
November, which is National Native American Heritage Month and World Vegetarian Month, is the perfect time to give thanks to early Americans – and learn from traditional and modern Aboriginal lessons of sustainability, food systems, and environmental protection
While Native American cultures and geographical locations varied greatly, there were – and still are – common threads supporting people’s treatment of the environment. One of these factors is the recognition of the influence of all human life on the natural ecosystem as well as the interconnectedness of the intersecting parts of each ecosystem. p>
According to a study published by Science Daily earlier this year, the vast majority of people did not make significant changes to their surrounding landscapes prior to European colonization
Says study author and archaeologist Elizabeth Shelton: “Records indicate that indigenous peoples have not modified their immediate environments substantially. Instead, they note that“ the large-scale and intensive deforestation and agriculture brought in by Europeans in the seventeenth century was in stark contrast to what It was done by “
This contrasts with a previously held belief that Native Americans effectively managed landscapes. The research adds that although people lived in the New England area for at least 14,000 years before colonization, their ecological footprint was virtually invisible.
After the arrival of Europeans, logging and burning of forests appeared on a large scale in the ecological record of the New England region. This ecological invasion fits perfectly with the broader mindset of colonialism, which is itself an exercise of domination
The theory of environmental imperialism, first formulated by professor and academic Alfred W. Crosby posits that the Europeans’ destruction of wildlife and native plants through disease, fauna and physical destruction contributed to the “success” of European colonialism – at the expense of large indigenous peoples.
Today, Western ecologists continue to frequently damage natural ecosystems – if inadvertently – in an effort to repair the damage that began with colonialism but many people are also working to restore traditional land and resource management systems to repair the environmental damage mentioned in Often times, these systems were created and practiced by indigenous peoples in the United States and around the world.
While indigenous peoples now make up less than 5 percent of the total population, they protect more than 80 percent of global biodiversity in Australia, the Indigenous Ranger program combines traditional knowledge and conservation training to protect endangered species and mitigate fire risks Forestry, and prevention of illegal hunting activities
The Indigenous Leadership Initiative (ILI) – a pan-Canadian network of indigenous leaders – actively promotes First Nations-led conservation and sustainable development efforts
“Countries tend to make really strong decisions about their terrestrial base,” ILI Director Valerie Courtois told LIVEKINDLY “because our culture, identity and place in the world are rooted in our responsibility to those lands and waters, as indigenous peoples”
The level of care and respect for the complexity and diversity of surrounding ecosystems is fundamental to the majority of traditional land management The ILI Institute, in particular, brings together more than 10,000 years of indigenous knowledge with modern forest and land management systems, reconciling different technologies to maximize their positive impact on the land
Courtois added: “The original sciences tend to focus on the relationship between things and how they interact.” Thus, there is a true complementarity between these two approaches, and Guardians really play this reconciliation role on a daily basis to make the most of this knowledge.
“When indigenous peoples hold the pen, when determining land use in their lands, they tend to protect more than 60 percent of those landscapes,” Courtois said. This protection has significance, not only for local, regional and national communities, but for the world at large. The boreal forest is an important region in the global struggle against climate change
Self-control and personal accountability in general promote healthy relationships between people, plants, and animals and this also includes sustainable foraging, fishing and hunting – the latter has been repeatedly treated with prejudice and misunderstanding by white environmentalists, particularly among the plant community.
Early farmers in the United States o, Native Americans were also adept at a variety of sustainable agricultural practices Wampanoag – whose knowledge kept pilgrims alive in their first year on the continent – is known for its organic farming methods, while the Hopi specializes in dryland cultivation of products such as Pumpkin, beans, and corn
Both permaculture and regenerative agriculture are embedded in all traditional indigenous farming practices Native Americans have used – and have used – farming techniques that incorporate a whole systems approach to crops, land and the entire ecosystem
Sean Sherman – founder of Sioux chef, chef, and award-winning author, James Beard – previously spoke of European colonists’ war over indigenous food crops were burned, food stores were destroyed, and bison were killed in order to further subjugate indigenous peoples
“Until the nineteenth century, the indigenous people did not have to pay for food because they took care of their food, right, Sherman said in a video shared by The Sioux Chef If you can control your food, you can control your destiny.
The colonization of U Q also influenced basic generational knowledge related to farming and hunting, practical skills and culture. This is in part why teaching modern indigenous foods about traditional farming, ingredients and dishes is so important today
Through its Minneapolis-based nonprofit, the North American Indigenous Peoples’ Traditional Food Systems (NāTIFS), Sioux Chef promotes the education of indigenous food methods and facilitates access to indigenous foods in order to create a healthy and sustainable future for Native Americans that supports this Education Redefine, reclaim, and revitalize North American cuisine and culture for all indigenous peoples of the United StatesQ
In a statement sent to LIVEKINDLY, NāTIFS Foundation and Executive Director Dana Thompson said: “We envision a new North American food system that generates wealth and improves health in indigenous communities through food-related institutions”
“We focus on modern uses of indigenous foods and traditional ingredients We do not use any colonized ingredients, including sugar cane, white flour and dairy products” NāTIFS also avoids the use of beef, pork and chicken
“Indigenous food is medicine, and it provides health benefits,” Thompson said. “A conscious attachment to the foods of our ancestors nourishes not only our bodies, but our souls as well.”
Learning about pre-colonial foods, cooking and consuming them is one step towards completely decolonizing your Thanksgiving celebration Your meal may include the three main agricultural crops preferred by North American indigenous groups: winter squash and climbing beans and corn. Also known as the Three Sisters, these crops benefit each other when grown together using the traditional companion planting technique
In an interview with VICE, Chef Navi Craig – a half-Navajo member of the White Mountain Apache in Whiteriver, Arizona – said that a decolonized Thanksgiving meal might look different to everyone, Craig explained: “It all depends on the person.” It can be a vegetarian meal, either completely vegetarian or with little meat “
Craig particularly highlights The Three Sisters, included in equal parts, as a simple meal containing millions of different combinations, he said, “This is the gateway to decolonizing your diet, and it will add Native American history to any Thanksgiving spread.”
Thompson suggested that those looking to decolonize their diets this Thanksgiving start by looking for indigenous tribes in your area This original Earth map can help you discover the history of the indigenous people in your area then, identify colonized dishes and ingredients in your repertoire and swap them to create A decolonized version instead
“You can’t go wrong with using locally grown vegetables like squash, sweet potatoes, and root vegetables,” she said, “Try seasoning vegetables with sumac Pure maple syrup is a great sweetener for everything from pureed root vegetables to sunflower seed cookies.
Recognition of indigenous, holistic and integrated stewardship supports efforts for sustainability, environmental protection, independence and empowerment of indigenous peoples
Indigenous food systems are sustainable and benefit people, animals and the earth. They use sustainable agriculture and heirloom plants and focus on locally grown and naturally available foods. By decolonizing the Thanksgiving celebration, you can also increase its sustainability
Thompson explained that “the indigenous food system is in many ways the opposite of the colonial industrial food system” “We also believe in thanking the Earth for its gifts when we harvest it, and part of this respect and appreciation includes not letting anything go to waste”
Sustainable stewardship and food production – rooted in thousands of years of Native American culture – is something we can all acknowledge, learn about, and thank not only for Thanksgiving, but every time we sit down for a meal
Liam writes on environmental and social sustainability and animal protection. He holds a BA with Honors in English Literature and Film, and writes for sustainable business magazine Liam is interested in cross-policy and DIY music
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