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for Americans, whatever that means, Native and not: How do we put the giving back in Thanksgiving?

What is a good way for non-natives to honor Native Americans without adding insult to injury? Should we take the day as a reminder that systems of inequality are still robbing many Natives of their health and well being, depending on their situation? Should we also give money to Native organizations working to improve that problem (or in my case ask well off family members to do so)? I do not find "leave the country I was raised in to live in one I wasn't" to be a fair answer though I would be interested to hear discussion about that too.

(on a totally different subject for those of you who have opted into the "rants" filter I will put something up later that may be interesting ideas on why some of us have different perspectives.)

(no subject)

Date: 2012-11-22 04:27 pm (UTC)
tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (Default)
From: [personal profile] tim
I don't know if I'm on the rants filter, but I do love rants!

(no subject)

Date: 2012-11-22 07:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I have been thinking about this, too.

For most people I know, Thanksgiving has nothing to do with the fake history grafted onto it in the late 1800s. It's just about eating a big traditional meal with family, and being thankful for what we've got. Pilgrims and Indians have nothing to do with it. And I think that's a valid approach, though it feels kind of ... thin? to me. Like there isn't a lot of substance.

But I think it is good to use holidays as opportunities to focus on particular things--If I were a more competent parent, I'd go get a big stack of library books and teach a lesson each day about one of the cultures which went into the founding of America. 30 days is ample room for lessons about many different cultures and how they got here and shaped America, from the different Indian groups to Pilgrims and Spaniards and Africans. For children as young as mine, I wouldn't bring up much about the genocide and all (Link is a rather... sensitive child), just that we are all here now, and all Americans, and should all work together and value each other's contributions, and be thankful for the blessings of a rich heritage.

Older kids, or adults, can handle the more nuanced subject matter. It's important not to gloss over the negatives, but it's also important not to make them an exclusive focus. It is very easy to start to see other groups solely through the lens of "problems". This is something we westerners do a lot of when looking at the third world. We see problems, we feel guilt about the problems, we want to fix the problems, but in the process we can lose sight of the people. People got more than just problems.

Most people, I suspect, while they want their problems acknowledged and for people to try to be helpful, also would like to celebrate all of the interesting, positive, and creative things they have done and accomplished.

If I ever do manage to live in a different country, I think it will be just as important to learn about the peoples and history which shaped that country. But I am here, among these people, so there is value to learning about here.


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