Did you know some Native Americans do not celebrate Thanksgiving? Instead, they recognize it as the Day of Mourning. Even as a Native American, it was new to me. So, I thought I’d share some information about the day to educate others, spread awareness, and help you share this day with your kids and family.
What Is the Day of Mourning?
The Day of Mourning occurs on the same day as Thanksgiving. It is a day to mourn our Indigenous ancestors, their genocide, and the theft of lands that came from the colonization of the Pilgrims and other Europeans. It is a day of remembrance and spiritual connection where many will fast starting at sundown on Wednesday and ending on Thursday afternoon.
Every year on the Day of Mourning, a rally and march is held in Plymouth, Massachusetts, at noon sharp. Since 1970, the United American Indians of New England (UAINE) have organized a march through the historic district of Plymouth and gathered on top of Cole’s Hill overlooking Plymouth Rock for a rally to protest racism and oppression. Afterward, they host a late luncheon for participants to break their fast.
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Even if you are not Native American, you can still support the Day of Mourning and share it with your family. All are welcome to attend the protest in Plymouth, but if you cannot make it there in person, you can also watch a live stream of the event on the United American Indians of New England website.
Consider organizing your own peaceful march in your neighborhood. It’s a way to get kids involved and demonstrate how to rally friends, family, and peers for something they believe in.
Most Americans celebrate Thanksgiving, so if you’re gathering around a table with your extended family, try talking about the Day of Mourning.
Share with your children, friends and family members how you recently learned some Native Americans don’t celebrate Thanksgiving as you know it. Instead, the day is recognized as a time to remember Native American ancestors and those who died as a result of the colonization of this country. People mourn the genocide and the loss of land and how that land was intended to provide for the people.
Be Thankful, Be Mindful
Thanksgiving has morphed into a time to be thankful for what you have been given. For Native Americans, that means being mindful of the land and the food it provides on your table. It means to appreciate your family, past and present, and the culture they fought to preserve for you. Those are things everyone can celebrate and recognize, regardless of your ethnicity.
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As I mentioned in the beginning, I am Native American, but I was ignorant about the Day of Mourning. My family has been celebrating a traditional Thanksgiving for a few generations now, but it is up to us individually to choose how we recognize the day.
Education and awareness are powerful tools to help us remember what’s important, to know the truth of our American history and not some watered-down version that depicts everyone as welcoming and loving. I hope this little article spreads some awareness about the Day of Mourning and gets others to celebrate the day with a more thankful and mindful heart.