In America, Thanksgiving Day is a National Holiday; established November 26, 1789. While accounts vary slightly, about 400 years ago, a group of European immigrants gathered to give thanks for surviving disease and harsh conditions with the help of Native Americans. Many of the original settlers had perished. The gratitude of the survivors was a natural response to the charity and generosity of the Native Americans.
How times have changed! Today, “Thanksgiving” has morphed from that simple meal shared by survivors and their benefactors to a much-anticipated 4-day weekend that kicks off the Holiday Season. Many people travel to reunite with family, indulge in over-eating, all-day football, board games, visiting and napping; followed by Black Friday door-busters and enticement by retailers to spontaneous spending. This is a far-cry from its humble and practical origin.
In the centuries following that first Thanksgiving meal, America prospered. Subsequent generations designated the cornucopia to symbolize the celebration of harvest and abundance. Even the iconic painting featured above is a creation of the consequent wealth and is an 1880s vision of an idealized past and is full of inaccuracies.
But not all Americans are living in abundance. Many are without proper food, clothing, and shelter. Unfortunately, approximately 26% of Native Americans live in poverty and the suicide rate for Native Americans age 15 – 34 is between 1.5 and 2x the national average, this Youth Today article is powerful on the subject. This Thanksgiving weekend, I challenge you to eat half as much and spend half as much as you normally would. Find a great organization serving our Native American communities and support them with charity and generosity.
Something went wrong with our Thanksgiving Accounting – the Credits and Debits are out of balance to the detriment of Native Americans. This is not right. These proud, generous and trusting people were the original inhabitants and caretakers of all the land and resources we now call America. The least we can do as a society is to honor the descendants whose ancestors were systematically driven from their lands and had much of their culture squashed over a 3-century period following that first survivors’ meal.
A few valid Charities of note;
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