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Reflections on Thanksgiving from the Indigenous Social Work Scholars Committee

Dear CSW Community,

As we approach the upcoming four-day long weekend, we are reflecting on the significance of a Thanksgiving with intention. There are a number of layers to the federal holiday called Thanksgiving that are and are not Indigenous, just as there are a number of ways it is celebrated or recognized. Many families acknowledge sharing food and gathering with community on this day, but the historic meaning of Thanksgiving is often missing.

Two hands peeling back the husk of an ear of cornThe myth of Thanksgiving is chock full of inaccuracies—for the real history we need to turn to the Wampanoag. There is context to why some Native Peoples hold a day of mourning on this holiday (the Wampanoag remember the appearance of pilgrims as a day of mourning and not giving thanks). The meaning of giving thanks, or sharing of abundance with community, is a positive Indigenous belief system, traditionally and contemporarily. Did you know that the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas developed many of the traditional Thanksgiving table foods: corn, potatoes, squash, wild rice, several varieties of beans and chili peppers, and chocolate!

The memories we create with the people we care about most on the 4th Thursday of November IS a positive message that we can contribute to being good humans. Understanding why people in the U.S. turn to their neighbors or community members in need this time of year was inspired by the cultural values of generosity, gratitude, and community.

Want to learn more to share another true meaning of giving thanks from an Indigenous perspective? We have created a list of resources you can consider including in your celebrations attached in our first newsletter! 

In community,
Indigenous Social Work Scholars Committee

ISWS Newsletter, November 2023
This Interactive Map ShowsWhich Indigenous Lands YouLive On
Nine Ways to Decolonize andHonor Native Peoples onThanksgiving
Native American Perspectives on Thanksgiving
Native Knowledge 360 degrees Essential Understandings
The Thanksgiving Tale We Tell Is a Harmful Lie. As a Native American, I’ve Found a Better Way to Celebrate the Holiday
Check out these Indigenous owned businesses

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Last Updated: 12/12/23