Celebrate Thanksgiving only as a social holiday

We, as a community, need to celebrate and appreciate Indigenous Peoples Month.

Written By August Stephens, Opinions Editor

In the upcoming weeks, millions of people will be gathering with family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving. There will be hugs, refreshing conversations, but also begrudging political comments as well.


While gathering to celebrate any holiday, it is important to acknowledge and accept the history behind each holiday. Several of them may conflict with peoples religious and political beliefs, but that does not stop what happened to cause such a holiday to make it any less real.


Thanksgiving should be a purely social holiday if celebrated, and the utter disrespect to Indigenous American people needs to stop. Millions of lives have been erased and taken due to the colonization of the United States. Their culture has been made into costumes and school day activities for children for decades to wear as if any resemblance could ever be made. According to the Center for Disease Control, murder is the third leading cause of death for Indigenous women.


Now, I am not opposed to the overall message of giving thanks to what may help people be better people. Whether it be peers, a piece of media, or just the fact that there is shelter, food to eat, and water to drink: that is okay too. We just need to be aware of why these traditions started in the first place. It is necessary to educate yourself of the art, literature, and foods of other cultures. Thanksgiving should only be celebrated when everybody is included at the table.


We live largely on the Osage lands, which a vast amount of people are completely unaware of in 2022. There is the Council of Three Rivers American Indian Center, which offers a sense of community to Indigenous peoples. There is also employment training offered to Native Americans, Alaskan Natives, and Native Hawaiians who are 18 years and older. In Pennsylvania, there are no publicly available reports or statistics, according to Native Women’s Wilderness.


According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, there are only 574 federally recognized American Indian and Alaskan Native tribes. This means that tribes which are not federally recognized likely lack health care, education assistance, and insurance coverage. It is appalling that people lack the empathy to try to understand how Native people are treated.


This article has had a focus of being inclusive of American Indians, but the mission to make other people feel seen, heard, and respected should not stop there. Alaskan Native and Native Hawaiian voices need to be accurately represented as well.


Thanksgiving as a national holiday is seen as a time to take a break, to slow down from the hustle culture which influences our lives. We all have the time to educate ourselves and support Indigenous voices by appreciating their culture. Small creators at Pittsburgh festivals and online shops always need people who will value the time which goes into making art for varying people.


Ultimately, November is Native American Heritage Month. There is time to give thanks, eat until you fall asleep, watch sports games; while being open to re-learning beliefs about Indigenous people. Tribal members deserve their own self governance. There needs to be No More Stolen sisters, and no more violence acted upon Indigenous populations.


Non-indigenous people need to unlearn the perceptions we have been taught of Native communities because they are largely, and widely, inaccurate. As a community, there are always actions we can take to support Native peers.