The third Thursday of November is a day for feasting for some. For others in the Native American culture, it is a day of solemn remembrance.
“A lot of people I know celebrate an Unthanksgiving, serving traditional foods from their tribe. [They] talk about the historical significance starting with the Europeans landing … in the 1600s,” said Gina Ricketts. The Native American program director at Central Oregon Community College, Ricketts is a member of the Hupa tribe.
The pilgrims landed on the eastern shore of what is now America but they were not prepared for the harsh winter weather. The Wampanoag tribe, native to that area, shared what they had.
“If not for the Wampanoag tribe, the Pilgrims would have starved those first few months,” said Ricketts.
There are many interpretations as to what the relationship between the Europeans and the Wampanoags was like.
Native Americans were interested in alliances and looked to the settlers as potential allies in peace with other tribes.
“The first Thanksgiving was to thank the pilgrims for taking care of another tribe that the Wampanoag were fighting with. It was like, ‘you take care of our enemies, we’ll take care of you,’” said Sean Muller, COCC student and member of the First Nations Student Union.
The land across America was once inhabited by many different tribes or groups of Native American tribes. During the westward expansion, this land was taken from the natives. Methods varied, ranging from manipulation to force.
“When we look at stuff from the past, we have to acknowledge our different view point,” Ricketts said. “It was an okay policy back then. We can’t condemn them, but also, we shouldn’t forget.”
Becoming an educator was Ricketts’ way of giving back to her tribe and to her heritage. She takes it upon herself to contribute to history with some of the details that have been left out out in the past.
Ricketts said, “There is more to History than many people are currently being taught.”
You can contact Michelle Greer at firstname.lastname@example.org