Decolonizing Thanksgiving: Dismantling the Mythos

This is our annual Decolonizing Thanksgiving newsletter, which is part of a commitment Bioneers made in 2016 to share the truth of what this holiday means for Native Americans and all Americans. Beyond sharing the information and resources below, we’re taking our commitment one step further this year with the publication of our Decolonizing Thanksgiving deep-dive resource

On this page, you’ll find a collection of content and tools related to decolonizing Thanksgiving, and you’ll also find our guides to decolonization in general. We’ve also included a selection of resources and tools from tribes, educational institutions, and Native-led organizations to support continued engagement. 

We hope you’ll take a moment to browse through what we’ve collected here and to consider what the decolonization of your Thanksgiving might look like this year.

The True, Indigenous History of Thanksgiving

The American mythos of the First Thanksgiving erases a large part of the history of European colonialism and its impact on tribal nations. For the true story of what happened at the First Thanksgiving, and how Indigenous lives have been affected ever since, Bioneers’ Indigeneity Program’s Alexis Bunten (Aleut/Yup’ik) hosted a conversation with Chris Newell (Passamaquoddy), the Director of Education for the Akomawt Educational Initiative.

Read more here.

3 Ways to Decolonize Thanksgiving

While thanksgiving can inspire gratitude, nurture relationships, and bring families together, celebration should not come at the expense of the history of the Nations Indigenous to North America. For many Native people, the holiday is a national day of mourning. Decolonizing thanksgiving can establish new traditions seated in healing, reciprocity, and kinship.

Read more here.

Whose Ancestral Territories Are You Living On? 

A fundamental task for non-Indigenous people who want to be better allied with Indigenous people is to learn whose land they are currently living on. Identifying the Nation native to the land you live on can foster gratitude, humility and open doors to learning more about the history of colonial dispossession. 

Read more here.

A Lesson Plan & Teacher’s Guide to The Real Thanksgiving 

The story of Thanksgiving begins with the Wampanoag tribe and European settlers. In this teacher guide, walk through the real history of thanksgiving with an in-depth lesson plan that includes drawing activities, discussion questions, and videos. 

Read more here.

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