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  • Writer's picturealaurafilbin

26 November 2020: Minor Reparations on Thanksgiving

Happy (American) Thanksgiving! Today is a day that, though it is rooted in some very problematic history, has come to be associated with spending time with family, practicing gratitude, and eating a lot of food. I can get behind those last three things, but it’s important to recognize the history of the land we’re on.

I’m white. I’m not any percentage Native American, which means that my ancestors were all either colonizers or immigrants, and the history of white people colonizing indigenous peoples’ land is a volatile one. While I do enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday for what it is now, we can’t ignore where it started.

Native people lived in the Americas at least 12,000 years before Europeans came and had no sense of ‘owning the land,’ so when Europeans came, they essentially stole land out from under the natives. This continues even to the present, where Native American reservations are tiny areas of land, underfunded and neglected, with its people suffering under numerous injustices.

European invaders—because, let’s face it, that’s kinda what we were—killed indigenous peoples with disease, violence, and they attempted to eradicate the cultures of these people. Many tribes still suffer from this because Native children were separated from their tribes, their families, and were sent to residential schools, where they were forced to speak English and conform to American culture.

It’s impossible to deny that white people have done so much damage, not just to Native Americans, but indigenous peoples globally. In order to make a minor contribution to the reparations that ought to be made to these people, I’d like to encourage you to learn whose native land you’re on, donate to the tribes (if you can), and do whatever you can to be an ally to those people.

I personally live on Yokuts land in what is now California, and this area was made up of up to sixty different tribes, though the most prominent of which is the Tachi.

You can find out what land you’re on using and I encourage you to do research on local tribes in order to learn more about what you can do to help them.

Happy Thanksgiving, stay safe, and good luck to me finishing NaNoWriMo!

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