Unthanksgiving: A History


Image via KAWL

Evie Mohan, Staff Writer

Everyone knows the traditional Thanksgiving story. Squanto helps the Pilgrims survive, and guides them as they build a new life. To thank him, the Pilgrims arrange for a huge feast to be taken in, and are courteous enough to invite his whole tribe. Hpappy Turkey Day, right? 


Unfortunately, this story will not go on to have a happy ending. The Natives will go on to face cultural genocide, as well as literal genocide. They had their identities erased, their cultures destroyed, and their land taken.


You can imagine that a day like Thanksgiving day can be offensive to these people, and upsets many. To counter the whitewashing of American history, and commemorate their tribe’s bravery, the American Indian movement started a tradition known as “Unthanksgiving Day”. 


The tradition goes back to 1975, and is a celebration on the 22nd of November. Native Americans gather to the island, and have a day of ceremonies, speeches, and traditional items. They raise awareness of modern issues, such as the The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), and the white-washing of American education. 


While non-Natives prepare for feasts, these people travel out to Alcatraz Island in California, and have a day of raising awareness for different causes often ones that better their future. 


One major issue that was brought up in past years, is the slow death of certain languages and dialects. This is due to the fact that those who passed the knowledge on were missing from the community. To combat this, the National Coalition of Native American Language Schools and Programs are creating immersion schools, that are community led, and they teach the languages that are in the most danger. This revitalization is incredibly important, not only for their history, but for America as a whole. 


To support them, please visit their website, and read up on how YOU can make a difference today. 


Lastly, people should be supporting Native American efforts to get back their land and their culture, which was cruelly taken from them, is vital in present times. Hopefully, young generation can help mend as many of these broken promises as we can. 


On a final note, click here to watch the Sunrise Ceremony from Unthanksgiving Day, 2010: