My family wants to get together for Thanksgiving, but I’m worried about COVID. There’s a lot of us. Also, should Natives even be celebrating?

Hi there! These are great questions! They’ve been on my mind too.

Yeah, you’re right to be thinking about how best to keep yourself and your family safe. There were over a million COVID cases reported in the past 7 days. So, there is nothing more real than that.

Bottom line, the safest way to continue being safe during the holiday’s or other celebrations is to celebrate at home, with the people that you live with, especially if you’ve got a lot of family members. This is how we take care of our elders and our relatives.

Secondly, it’s okay to celebrate any US holiday however you choose to.

It’s also okay if you want to boycott or redefine the holiday by reflecting on how the holiday might look through an Indigenous lens. For example, if you would rather spend holidays like Thanksgiving, Columbus Day, or July 4th practicing a tradition from your Tribe or by spreading awareness, then go for it!

It’s also great to acknowledge the myth of Thanksgiving. The myth that friendly unidentified Indians welcomed the pilgrims to America and taught them how to survive and live off the land. It was not harmonious for the Wampanoags, whose lives and society were forever damaged after the English arrived. The Pilgrims’ entry into their homeland is remembered as a day of deep mourning for the massacres that occurred, rather than a moment of giving thanks.

Perhaps you could take a moment to reflect on how the telling and retelling of false stories impacts our Tribal communities today.

I want to leave by saying…that it is also okay if you don’t know how to feel about celebrating or observing any US holiday. However you feel about it at this moment…is okay!

Thanks for writing in! And well done for taking care of yourself and your family!

Auntie Manda


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