The First Thanksgiving 1621, oil on canvas by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1899).
This work is in the public domain in its country of origin and other countries and areas where the copyright term is the author’s life plus 70 years or less.
In light of police brutality and government non-intervention at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, as well as the ongoing plight of the Native American community, we should take this opportunity to reflection what Thanksgiving really stands for.
The colonization of North America signaled the eventual birth of a new nation, but in the process brought death to almost an entire population. When a British expedition landed on the North American shore in 1614, they brought with them a plague that killed about 90 percent of the indigenous population native to the area, according to an article by Links.
Former President Andrew Jackson issued the Indian Removal Act of 1830, which led to the infamous Trail of Tears–a deadly march to Oklahoma territory which the Creek Native Americans were forced to endure so that their home lands of Georgia and Alabama could be developed by the U.S.
In 1973, about 200 protesters occupied Wounded Knee, the South Dakota site of a 1980 massacre of Native Americans. By the time the 71-day occupation was over, two American Indian Activists were dead from federal marshal gunshots.
This systematic violence towards Native Americans and the blind eye that many government officials (and everyday citizens) turn to it persists to present day. While Thanksgiving has traditionally been a day to celebrate the colonization of North America and reflect on the importance of friends and loved ones, it is important to keep in mind those who continue to suffer so we could thrive.