Honoring Indigineous History a Home and Giving Thanks Around the World

In 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a resolution 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, that story is rather different from the true history of the event and diminishes the long history of killing and displacing of indigenous tribes across the country.

As you gather with your loved ones this season, consider doing 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 also consider supporting local indigenous organizations, preparing an indigenous recipe for your Thanksgiving table, or reading books by indigenous authors. 

For many, Thanksgiving is a celebration of family and an acknowledgement of what we are grateful for in our lives. While honoring the Indigenous 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.

The South Korean Chuseok Harvest Festival celebrates family and focuses on one’s ancestral roots. Barbados celebrates the sugarcane harvest with the Crop Over Festival with markets, music and dancing. The Kaamatan festival celebrated by the Kadazan-Dusun tribe in Malaysia celebrates the fertility of the land and the gift of the Earth.

In the United States, many popular Thanksgiving traditions include watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, gathering for a turkey dinner, or sitting on the couch to watch football. No matter how you celebrate, it’s important to take time to think about what you are thankful for and the spend time with your loved ones. 

Have a happy, healthy and grateful Thanksgiving!

Alison Robles is a part-time page at the Crestwood Library. She is an avid reader with a passion for YA lit, historical fiction and fantasy. A Yonkers native, she graduated from Iona University in 2020 with a dual-degree in Marketing and Public Relations. She is pursuing an MS in Information and Library Science from the University at Buffalo.

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