This Thanksgiving, remember we are on stolen land

Via Unsplash. 

It may be uncomfortable to acknowledge the true history of Thanksgiving and admit that we, as members of the SIUE community, are on stolen land – but it’s the least we can do. 


SIUE exists in the lands of the Kiikaapoi, Peoria, Kaskaskia, Michigamea, Cahokia, Tamaroa and Dhegiha Siouan peoples, a fact we need to keep at the forefront of our Thanksgiving celebrations. 


SIUE is hosting a land acknowledgement ceremony to acknowledge the history of our region, and that’s an important step. But the work does not stop there. As we students return home for the holidays and Thanksgiving celebrations, we need to take that knowledge with us. 


Research the history of the people who lived in our region first. Learn about the struggles Native Americans continue to face today – particularly Native American women. Native American women are two and a half times more likely to be sexually assaulted than non-Native women, and in 86 percent of those cases, the assailant is non-Native. Indigenous women are murdered at a 10 times higher rate than all other ethnicities, with murder being the third leading cause of death for indigenous women, and the majority of these murders are committed by non-Natives on Native land. 


According to Native Women’s Wilderness, an organization dedicated to helping Indigenous women connect and outdoor education, “While condensing Indigenous Women’s experiences into a numerical value is a heavy burden that potentially relegates human women, girls and two-spirits into statistics, the current numbers illustrate the harrowing conditions for Indigenous persons within the U.S.” 


So while you’re sitting down with your family to enjoy a meal that supposedly commemorates harmony between Indigenous people and colonizers, consider starting a conversation about the plight of Indigenous people today. However, don’t just focus on tragedy – Native Hope, a resource that works with tribal entities to meet various needs, asks non-Native allies to share stories of hope and Native American values, such as appreciation for community and reverence for the environment, to avoid reinforcing stereotypes and shift the narrative to celebrating the richness of Native tradition and modern relevance.  


Consider using some of the money you would have spent on Black Friday shopping to donate to organizations committed to ending the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women, such as Native Hope, MMIW USA or the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women


We have a long way to go in terms of portrayals of Native Americans in the media, the celebration of Thanksgiving itself and the language we use to talk about Native Americans. A land acknowledgement ceremony is just one small step in the right direction. Let’s continue to grow as allies, however uncomfortable that may be. 


(2) comments

Cleetus Yeetus

This Thanksgiving, remember to give thanks to those colonizers who brought civilization to this land. Without those “colonizers” we would be living in teepees and warring with neighboring tribes. There would still be people down in South America cutting out peoples hearts and rolling them down pyramids. Only bright spot is that there would be no SIUE and no computers for these blue-haired dumb-dumbs to type this garbage.

Daniel Burns

Show me a region on this planet besides Antarctica where blood has not been spilled in war. If you think Native Tribes did not raid and take each other's land, horses, women, and supplies, you are a fool. Do you hold the former Roman, Greek, Mongol, English, Spanish, and Muslim Empires in the same regard? All expanded through war and conquest. It was not the early colonists (who were sent by their parent nations to build colonies) who forced the Trail of Tears or the Battle at Little Big Horn, it was the government. It was the government that slaughtered millions of bison (buffalo) to starve out the dependent tribes. It was the government who gave the same tribes disease infected blankets knowing they had no immunity. Also, calling anyone a colonizer is using a racial slur against an ethnic group (whites). Calling anyone a racial slur is wrong regardless of who it is or whatever they did to you. If you want respect from people, it is easier when you don't insult them.

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