How can we recognize Thanksgiving and Truthsgiving?

How can we recognize Thanksgiving and Truthsgiving?

How can we simultaneously recognize Thanksgiving and Truthsgiving / Day of Mourning?

For many Americans, Thanksgiving is a precious day full of family, food, and gratitude. But for many Indigenous Peoples, this day is a National Day of Mourning or Truthsgiving. It marks the beginning of the genocide and erasure of Indigenous Peoples, displacement, dispossession, land theft, eradication and assimilation policies, and much more, says Jordan Marie Brings Three White Horses Whetstone. She is the Founder and Organizer of Rising Hearts, a Filmmaker, and a Professional Runner / Athlete Advocate. I talked to Jordan about how we can navigate this day:

How is the Day of Mourning / Truthsgiving recognized across the country? 

Jordan: “Indigenous Peoples see this day as a means to connect with the lands, and honor their ancestors and their communities. It's a day of remembrance, a celebration of resilience and our Indigenous communities thriving, and a form of protest against the racism and systems of oppression that Indigenous Peoples faced throughout the past and present. Participants locally can participate by supporting local community actions organized by Indigenous Peoples to learn from, fasting, donating to local Indigenous communities and organizations, learning whose lands you're in, and rethinking your plate by trying more Indigenous-centered foods and recipes.” 

How can those of us who grew up celebrating Thanksgiving do so while simultaneously recognizing the dark roots of the traditional holiday?

Jordan: “This day can still remain a day to be with family and friends, but we can help shift the perspective and see the truth of what this day actually means and how it came to be romanticized and white-washed. For me, I still use this day as a way to be connected with my family and with the lands. It's how we frame this day, why we gather, who we honor and remember, and now, as a new mom to a son and about to have twin girls, it's the opportunity to educate them with the truth from a young age. It's an opportunity for us to try new Indigenous foods we find from Tocabe, Well For Culture, The Sioux Chef and other Indigenous-inspired meals that we include on this day. It's our way and commitment to Indigenize this day as much as we can with my family.”

We challenge you to consider how you can enjoy this day with family and thankfulness while standing in solidarity with Indigenous Peoples across the country. 

As a first step, here are a few ways we can learn about and participate in National Day of Mourning / Truthsgiving:

  • Educating ourselves and starting conversations about the reality of Thanksgiving can be just as powerful as donating money or attending a demonstration. It’s as easy as a Google search – here’s a good place to start.
  • Attend a local or digital run/walk: Rising Hearts’ Truthsgiving run/walk provides the option to run, walk, or donate from November 22 -26. The registration page contains resources for continuing to unlearn and relearn about this day. You can also learn more on their Instagram @rising_hearts 

“We've been organizing the Truthsgiving run/walk since 2020 as a way to bring awareness, bring community together virtually and in person when we are able to, and fundraise for Indigenous communities and organizations that were considered first contact Tribes/Communities to support their efforts, communities, and heart work,” Jordan says. 

  • Learn what stolen land we live on and the history of its communities with this interactive map from Native Land Digital. Groundwork’s Los Angeles roastery and cafes are on Chumash, Tongva and Fernandeño Tataviam lands. Our roastery in Portland, Oregon is on the lands of Cayuse, Umatilla, Walla Walla, Stl’pulmsh, Clackamas, Cascades, and the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde and of Siletz Indians. 

Today, Groundwork recognizes Indigenous histories, contributions, and suffering. We celebrate the present, shaped by their resilience and knowledge. We commit to building a future in which Indigenous peoples control their own destinies and realize their dreams. 

Written by
Melina Devoney
Barista & Blogger