The United States public is very well versed in the Euro-centric Thanksgiving and all the traditional attendant values it conjures up. What is not at all well understood is how indigenous people view this same event. If you look up on the Internet some of the Native American descriptive terms for the same event, you would find genocide, haunting, grieving, red holocaust, etc.
Native Americans feel a special kind of guilt, a learned hopelessness, a loss of identity, a separateness that is difficult to convey. How would you feel if your traditions, language, customs and ways of life were taken away and your ancestors murdered and forcefully forced to relocate on barren reservation and then you had your children taken away from their families and made to attend Indian boarding schools where you had your hair cut and were made to wear white mans clothing and adopt their ways. Even speaking your native tongue would lead to severe punishment. Are we talking war, POW’s or the original people who helped the first settlers found this great country?
Could not our society benefit from more integration of Indian culture and wisdom especially in this time of global pollution? Their voice and wisdom need to be heard. Something as simple and taken for granted as potable water is becoming ever so scarce because of an unrestrained greed with no contrasting voice about the long term effects of permanently scarring our environment all in the name of profit.
This Thanksgiving, set an extra plate for a needy person at your holiday meal. This person may be a Native or not…it’s symbolic of always being there to help a person in need. It’s a ritual to not only observe, but to teach our children. Rituals are initiations into a sometimes complex and mysterious life that will challenge all of us at different times. This is not done with a text, a video on your computer or a tweet. It’s experienced between family, friends and passed on to future generations. Never being too big to ask for a hand or give a hand is a humanitarian attitude that goes a long way in an increasingly hostile world. Let’s face it, compared with many that live on Reservations, most of the people reading this have it made in the shade. In the spirit of the original Thanksgiving it was a sharing of abundance. The spirit of this coming together was sharing and cooperation…and then it turned into greed, the lust for power, land, resources and domination.
There is something very special happening on the Fort Peck Reservation in MT. There is an awakening, a resurgence, hope is being re-established with these kids. From the entire LHNC family we want to thank a man who welcomed us to his reservation and has ‘aken us under his wing and allowed us to help his people. This man is Kenny Smoker, the tribal wellness director of the Fort Peck Reservation who is as honorable a man as you will ever meet. When we first started helping the kids with LHNC, we felt as we were pilgrims or strangers in a strange land. How people with so little would share anything they had with you. Each time you came back, the kids would greet you with big smiles and the trust would deepen.
LHNC extends our thanks to all of our supporters and donors. We just couldn’t do what we do without all of your support and love.