Thanksgiving Overshadowed By Violence Against Natives At Standing Rock

Lauren Harwyn
The violence and human rights violations against Native Americans occurring at the Dakota Access Pipeline protests cast a shadow over Thanksgiving.

As America settles down to celebrate Thanksgiving, we are presented with a grim irony that the holiday which allegedly celebrates cooperation between white colonists and Native Americans is overshadowed by violence at the Dakota Access Pipeline.

The story of Thanksgiving we are taught in school—that the native people and the white Pilgrims got together for a big feast of gratitude and camaraderie —not only is extremely white-washed, but also has never been proven as historical fact. There are many convoluted theories and histories that have confused the truth around the first Thanksgiving, relegating it to the status of myth and legend.

What we do know to be historical fact—and what we are not told about Thanksgiving in school—is that once white colonists landed, the Pilgrims and Native Americans fought bloody war after bloody war and Native people were systematically enslaved, murdered, and oppressed by white colonizers (before we claimed all their land and resources as our own.)

"Truth be told," writes Sarah Sunshine Manning for Indian Country Today, "this beloved lie was packaged solely for nationalistic consumption when, following the bloody Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863. Back then, Americans were desperately in need of unity and inspiration. Hence, the myth of the first Thanksgiving was born to inspire and unite."

The legend of Thanksgiving becomes even less palatable when you consider the atrocities against Native American water protectors at the Dakota Access Pipeline, in Cannonball North Dakota. A young woman may lose her arm after police threw a grenade into a crowd of protestors and hundreds have been injured by water cannons fired in freezing weather, rubber bullets and tear gas. The chilling reality of the relationship between Native Americans and the U.S. government is now staring us all in the face.

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Many have taken to social media in response to the violence and its bearing on the Thanksgiving holiday.

Others are calling on people to donate money otherwise spent on an elaborate feast to support DAPL protestors through financial action.

Even John Oliver chimed in on "Last Week Tonight." Oliver called out the hypocrisy of Trump's anti-refugee rhetoric, when white "refugees" stole North America from Natives. 

John Oliver on refugees, Native Americans

There is no doubt that the DAPL protests are waking up more people to the oppression and violence that Native Americans face. As police and mercenaries crack down on the peaceful protesters and their camp, safely sitting at home with a hot meal is something truly to be grateful for.

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Banner Image Credit: Reuters