…thoughts on Thanksgiving & the National Day of Mourning by Stacey McAdoo…
🎵You could thank me now, uh, go ‘head🎵 -Drake
As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, let us be mindful that some will be observing that day as the National Day of the Mourning. The National Day of Mourning, an annual protest organized by Native Americans of New England, has officially been observed since 1970. These gatherings are demonstrations against racism and oppression and are a remembrance of the ancestors.
When we speak to our children, loved ones, or possibly even our students about the origins and traditions associated with the fourth Thursday of November, let us not regurgitate Thanksgiving myths but instead be truthful about what this day (and all the subsequent days) represent. And, by all means, let’s not speak of Native Americans as if they no longer exist. While 90% of Native Americans did die due to violence and new diseases brought to the Americas (which is approximately three times the number of Africans forced through the Middle Passage and five times the number of Jews murdered in the Holocaust), there are close to 7 million Native Americans alive today. That’s about 2% of our entire US population. And of those numbers, several thousand belong to the Quapaw Nation. And we, Little Rockers, are currently living on stolen land that the Quapaws were once caretakers of.
So as we sit with, reflect on and show our appreciation for our families this Thanksgiving, I hope that we all share a moment of silence for the millions who experienced genocide, theft of their land, and whose cultures are constantly under attack, stereotyped or caricaturized.
*To learn more about this topic read Thanksgiving: A Native American View by Jacqueline Keeler and The Suppressed Speech of Wamsutta (Frank B.) James, Wampanoag. Teaching Tolerance has built a lesson plan for 6th-12th graders, titled Thanksgiving Mourning, around these two pieces.
***Stacey James McAdoo, the 2019 Arkansas Teacher of the Year, has been a public school educator since 2002 (of which 17 years were spent as an Oral Communication and AVID Coordinator at the historic Little Rock Central High School). She is the sponsor of the spoken word collective called Writeous Poets from Little Rock, Arkansas and is the living embodiment of her ATOY platform of using passion and poetry to close the opportunity gap.***