A handful of years ago, I looked through stacks of our old family photos. I came across one picture that left a pit in my stomach.
How much celebration of white supremacy can fit in a 4 x 6 photo? The photo showed my third grade Christian school class at a Thanksgiving Day celebration. We performed a play for our families and had a meal together, all while further spreading the fallacies of Thanksgiving day.
Half of the students were dressed as Pilgrims and the other half as American Indians, complete with appropriated costumes. We all recited, “In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” Our parents clapped.
Choosing to deconstruct my white-washed education around Columbus Day and Thanksgiving as an adult and parent has shifted my priorities to making sure the generational cycle of oppression celebration ends.
The second Monday in October is “Indigenous People’s Day.” If this truth-focused shift is new to you, please check out this resource to learn of the atrocities to the Indigenous Peoples at the hands of the white settlers.
Ideas to Honor Indigenous Peoples’ Day
To further continue generational cycle breaking for our children and families, here are some new ways to honor these specific holidays.
- Use the Native Land website to look up the Native land you reside on and read about the tribe it belongs to.
- Purchase and read books by Indigenous authors. There are books here for all ages and a variety of topics to choose from as well.
- Explore the Portland Art Museum that houses the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Center for Native American Art on the 2nd and 3rd stories of its main building.
- Visit the Native Gathering Garden. While there, honor the Indigenous peoples who long cared for this land we are on.
- Purchase from Indigenous-owned businesses. My favorites are:
- Change your language. Find substitutes for these and similar words: tribe, chief, spirit animal, sitting Indian-style, powwow.
- Donate to a local cause empowering Indigenous culture and lifting Indigenous voices. Consider donating to the Native American Youth and Family Center.
Most importantly, however you decide to beautifully honor Indigenous Peoples’ Day, don’t forget to acknowledge the atrocities and harmful history of it all.