What It Means to Decolonize Thanksgiving In 2022

The Bioneers community (that means you) has always been at the vanguard of social and environmental movements, especially those that honor Indigenous knowledge to solve the planet’s most pressing challenges. In order to understand how destructive practices continue to persist in America, we need to examine how narratives of “conquest” continue to disconnect us from nature and the peoples who have been stewarding it since time immemorial. In this newsletter, we share our ideas developed by the Bioneers Indigeneity Program about how to transform Thanksgiving into a new set of narratives that honor nature, the plants and animals indigenous to this land, and help us reconcile our nation’s troubled past.  

Want more news like this? Sign up for the Bioneers Pulse to receive the latest news from the Bioneers community straight to your inbox.

Teaching Children the True Story of Thanksgiving

In 2022, Charlsebridge Press published Keepunumuk: Weeâchumun’s Thanksgiving Story to transform the story of this holiday that so many Americans take for granted. The inspiration for this children’s book came from the idea of hosting a “Decolonized Thanksgiving,” and it creates a new story that puts Native peoples—and nature—at its heart: Two children from the Wampanoag tribe learn how Weeâchumun (corn) persuaded the First Peoples to help the newcomers (the Pilgrims) survive in their new home. 

“I think it will play an important role in a larger, Native-led movement to educate the American public about Native Peoples, our histories, and the contributions that we make to this country. It’s very important to underscore that this book is reaching children. I strongly believe that children are the pathway to the social change their parents learn. When children learn, their parents learn. For children who read this book as their first exposure to Thanksgiving, Keepunumuk will shape their baseline understanding of the Wampanoag peoples and all Native Americans by extension.” —Alexis Bunten (Unangan and Yup’ik), co-author of Keepunumuk and co-director of the Bioneers Indigeneity Program

Read more.

3 Simple Ways to Teach Children About Thanksgiving

As parents and authors of the children’s book Keepunumuk: Weeâchumun’s Thanksgiving Story, Alexis Bunten, Anthony Perry, and Danielle Greendeer strove to create a story that gets ahead of the stereotypes that are so often children’s first exposure to the narrative of Thanksgiving. They believe that the holiday can be celebrated in a way that shows gratitude to the plants and animals native to North America, while not shying away from the true history of this country. In this article, the authors offer three hands-on ways to help children learn the real story of Thanksgiving and integrate the lessons from Keepunumuk into their holiday traditions.

Read more. 

How to Decolonize Your Thanksgiving This Year

In 2016, Bioneers made a commitment to decolonize Thanksgiving by recognizing and sharing the truth of what this holiday means for Native Americans and all Americans. We’ve collected a variety of resources to learn more about what it means to decolonize Thanksgiving, including articles, videos, and curriculum on how to “Indigenize” the holiday and what decolonization encompasses that can help you start conversations with your family and friends, and create new traditions. You’ll also find an interactive map that will show you whose ancestral territories you’re living on. 

Read more.

Healing From Colonization on Thanksgiving and Beyond

Edgar Villanueva and Hilary Giovale share an ancestral bond that is far from unique, but one that is rarely acknowledged. Edgar is a member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina. For generations, his family has lived in the same region where Hilary’s ancestor received a land grant after his family migrated from Scotland in 1739. Now 280 years later, Edgar and Hilary reach across the Thanksgiving table to bridge the painful colonial gap.

Read more.

3 Simple Ways to Decolonize Your Thanksgiving

With Thanksgiving around the corner, millions of families across the country are preparing to celebrate one of the more loved holidays on the calendar. Most look forward to the day as a time to take a break, to be with family, and to enjoy a meal together in the spirit of gratitude, but for many Native Americans, Thanksgiving is a national day of mourning over the genocide that took place throughout America. Here are some ideas for new traditions you can include at your Thanksgiving this year to better honor the Native Americans, immigrants, and their descendants who contribute to our country’s diversity.

Read more.

Keep Your Finger on the Pulse

Our bi-weekly newsletter provides insights into the people, projects, and organizations creating lasting change in the world.