Giving Thanks by Giving

Posted on Monday, November 23rd, 2020 by Renata Brillinger

As we head into Thanksgiving week, the pandemic casts a long shadow over any traditions we may normally have, just as it has redefined much of the past year. At a time when many Americans typically come together to celebrate during this food-focused holiday, health experts are advising us to keep our distance from one another.

This is also a season for reflection as the pace of life slows and the natural world quiets. It has been an extraordinarily difficult year for those who have lost loved ones, lost their jobs or been forced to keep working in spite of the risks, struggled to homeschool children, or experienced anxiety, isolation and fear. It has been especially challenging for people of color, some of whom have been hit by all of these challenges compounded by greater economic vulnerability and insufficient healthcare and economic safety nets. Indigenous communities are among the most severely impacted.

The American Thanksgiving story has historical roots in a legacy of systemic racism and crimes committed against the continent’s original indigenous inhabitants, including genocide, land theft, forced assimilation, and the appropriation and extinguishing of traditional knowledge. The devastating harms done to the country’s first peoples persist to this day. Much has been written on this topic—for inspiration on how to recognize this history at Thanksgiving, you may want to take a look at the website of an organization called Cultural Survival and an article entitled “8 Ways to Decolonize and Honor Native Peoples on Thanksgiving.” In their words:

Thanksgiving is an opportunity to also go beyond the harmful “pilgrims and Indians” narrative and focus on common values: generosity, gratitude, and community.

If you are looking for ways to support indigenous organizations with your donations, in the spirit of generosity, here are a few to consider this Thanksgiving season.

First Nations Development Institute invests in and creates innovative institutions and models that strengthen asset control and support economic development for American Indian people and their communities.

Intertribal Agriculture Council pursues and promotes the conservation, development and use of Native American agricultural resources for the betterment of the Indian community.

Lideres Campesinas is a network of women farmworker leaders that works to strengthen the leadership of farmworker women and girls (some whom are Indigenous) so that they can be agents of economic, social and political change and ensure their human rights.

Indigenous Seed Keepers Network is a project of the Native American Food Sovereignty Alliance, the Seed Keepers promote Indigenous culturally diversity for future generations by collecting, growing, and sharing heirloom seeds and plants.

NDN Collective is an Indigenous-led grassroots organizing team who work to build power among other Indigenous communities through activism trainings, narrative change, grantmaking and other resources.

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