President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a resolution in 1941 declaring Thanksgiving a nationally recognized holiday to be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. Many of us have learned about “The First Thanksgiving” as a celebration of friendship between the Pilgrims and Wampanoag tribe members in Plymouth, Massachusetts. However, the story we were told is rather different from the true history of the event and ignores the violent killing and displacement of indigenous tribes across the country.
As you gather with your loved ones this season, do some research about what indigenous tribes once lived in your region.
The non-profit organization Native Land Digital has an interactive online map that can help you determine what lands you are living on. You can consider supporting local indigenous organizations, preparing an indigenous recipe for your Thanksgiving table, or reading books from the indigenous perspective, like some of these available from the library:
For many, Thanksgiving is a celebration of family and an acknowledgement of what we are grateful for in our lives. While honoring the Indigienous people and gaining a new perspective on the Thanksgiving holiday, you can also look at Thanksgiving traditions around the world. Many countries don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in the same way that Americans do, but there are several holidays and celebrations that focus on family, thankfulness, and harvest seasons.
In South Korea, the Chuseok Harvest Festival celebrates family and focuses on one’s ancestral roots. Pongal is a festival in India that thanks the Sun, Mother Nature and farm animals for bountiful harvests. The Festival of Yams in Ghana celebrates the yam harvest and brings families together in song and dance.
If you’re looking for something great to read with young ones, check out some of these books about the Thanksgiving holiday, kindness and thankfulness.
Have a happy, healthy and grateful Thanksgiving this year!
Alison Robles is a part-time clerk at the Crestwood Library. She is an avid reader with a passion for fantasy, history and science fiction. A Yonkers native, she graduated from Iona University in 2020 with a dual-degree in Marketing and Public Relations.