TRUTHSGIVING is a term my friend Sikowis Nobiss defined in contrast to the inaccurate myth of Thanksgiving. The Great Plains Action Society she is the founder of created the website: TRUTHSGIVING. The Truth will not be whitewashed.
There are many settler colonial mythologies about Native Americans. These widely held but false beliefs are rooted in deeply entrenched discriminatory attitudes and behaviors that are perpetuated by institutionalized racism. One of the most celebrated mythologies is the holiday of Thanksgiving, which is believed, since 1621, to be a mutually sanctioned gathering of “Indians” and Pilgrims. The truth is far from the mythos of popular imagination. The real story is one where settler vigilantes unyieldingly pushed themselves into Native American homelands, and forced an uneasy gathering upon the locals.
In the words of Wamsutta Frank James, Wampanoag, “the Pilgrims had hardly explored the shores of Cape Cod four days before they had robbed the graves of my ancestors, and stolen their corn, wheat, and beans.” These words came from his 1970 Thanksgiving Day speech, which he wrote for the annual celebration of the landing of the Pilgrims held every year in Plymouth, Massachusetts. However, this speech was never presented; the organizers of the celebration reportedly asked to see his speech ahead of time, according to James’ obituary in theBoston Globe, and allegedly asked him to rewrite it on the basis that his words were not aligned with the popular mythology. He instead declared Thanksgiving a National Day of Mourning.
Thanksgiving Promotes Whitewashed History, So I Organized Truthsgiving Instead by Sikowis, aka, Christine Nobiss, Bustle, November 16, 2018
This website of the Great Plains Action Society has many resources for those who want to learn more. TRUTHSGIVING. The Truth will not be whitewashed.
Truthsgiving is an ideology that must be enacted through truth telling and mutual aid to discourage colonized ideas about the thanksgiving mythology—not a name switch so we can keep doing the same thing. It’s about telling and doing the truth on this day so we can stop dangerous stereotypes and whitewashed history from continuing to harm Indigenous lands and Peoples, as well as Black, Latinx, Asian-American and all oppressed folks on Turtle Island.
The idea of Truthsgiving did not emerge from anything new. Indigenous Peoples across Turtle Island have been resisting this mythology since its inception, even when they did not know about it, simply because we have resisted colonization and genocide since Columbus set foot on the lands of the Lucayan People (now known as the Bahamas).
Modern resistance to the holiday began during the rise of the Red Power movement during the civil rights era. According to Sikowis, “In 1970, the National Day of Mourning was instituted by James, the United American Indians of New England, and the local Wampanoag community as a resistance to Thanksgiving. This alternative holiday is held at Plymouth Rock and has occurred annually for almost 50 years. The National Day of Mourning also coincides with an event on the other side of the country that takes place on Alcatraz Island (an important Native American site). Unthanksgiving Day, also known as The Indigenous Peoples Sunrise Ceremony, is a large cultural event that has been held annually since 1975 and commemorates the Alcatraz-Red Power Movement occupation of 1969. There are, in fact, many anti-Thanksgiving events that occur around the country each year — one of which I have co-organized, called Truthsgiving.”
There are also many other resistance events held all over Turtle Island every year through Indigenous-led organizations and family gatherings where the mythology is overridden. That is how Truthsgiving emerged–as a family gathering to resist Thanksgiving that then turned into local celebrations in Iowa City, organized by Great Plains Action Society founder, Sikowis.
This website was created to uplift the collective efforts of Tribal Nations, Indigenous-led organizations and Indigenous Persons that are attempting to abolish institutionalized and aggrandized white supremacy that is supported through the thanksgiving mythology. It is, so far, a collective effort by organizations in the Midwest.
The following resources are available so that folks can learn more about Indigenous perspectives on Thanksgiving, the land they live on, how to be a good ally, and how they can decolonize their minds in order to abolish personal and institutionalized white supremacy.