~ By Ceceilia Tso, Navajo Woman & Goddess Guide
It has always been part of my Native American culture to give thanks every day.
As a child, I didn’t really understand the meaning behind the dominant American culture’s holiday of Thanksgiving as portrayed in school and on television; the commercialization, the romanticized meaning behind the holiday. I didn’t understand why people would want to dress up and pretend to be something that they’re not; to honor a story that is untrue about the pilgrims and Indians.
For me, the best part of Thanksgiving was the way our families came together, united by our own traditional foods from our cultures.
However, the true story is much more gruesome. We were massacred by the millions and the land we inhabited was stolen. The treaties that were signed by our ancestors are the most disregarded treaties in this country.
The blatant disregard and oppression of the indigenous people persists today. It is fueled mostly by misinformation and the continued false narratives about us as people and our history. Thanksgiving is a prime example. I wonder, when will the history books be corrected and the full history be taught to us in school?
Did you know that we are the most stolen, raped, murdered and killed peoples in the United States? Four out of five Native women are affected by violence today and face murder rates that are 10 times the national average according to the US Department of Justice. There is a movement called the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (#MMIW) that has been happening for years in the United States and Canada.
Like my ancestors who were decimated by smallpox and other diseases, the current pandemic’s rate of infection is 3.5% higher than that of non-hispanic white persons. My nation, the Navajo Nation, alone has lost more than 600 tribal members.
So rather than “celebrating a fictitious and romanticized story” we could first learn about the true story and then take a page from our neighbors to the north.
The First Nations people of Canada had a national public acknowledgement and apology from their federal government. This has never happened here in the USA, but it could. Canada, through the process of Peace and Reconciliation, is now taking steps to honor and acknowledge its First Nations people and their land.
That would be a day of Giving … acknowledging another’s pain and experience is one of the most profound gifts one can give.
As for me, today …
Thanksgiving Day, and everyday, I honor my people, the medicine people and our healers. I honor our elders, grandmothers, code talkers and military warriors. I honor our violated and abused women and children and our children who are given away or stolen. I honor our family members who persevered every day even when enduring oppression in this country. I honor my ancestors. Diné (Navajo – “The People” ), Navajo Nation, First Nations and all Indigenous people.
Ceceilia is a teacher, trainer and student of life. As the single mom of 2 grown children she is currently in the final stages of completing a Phd program and launching her consulting and leadership development practice.
Ceceilia had already developed herself as a trainer for Native and First Nation communities delivering the “Strengthening Families Program” healing families.