Did you know that Native Americans in our country view Thanksgiving as a national day of mourning remembering the genocide of their people? Did you know that the first "Thanksgiving" feast was held as a celebration for the massacre of 700 Pequot men, women and children?
If you had an education in the United States, I'm sure your teachers did not tell you the true story of Thanksgiving. However, I am sure that most people have heard about the Dakota Access Pipeline that is being built.
I was recently traveling through Hartford, Conn. I had just come from a week of festivities with my family that involved turkey, mashed potatoes and lots of gravy. A woman with short brown hair, who I remembered from being on my plane, was standing close to me as she waited for her bag. She was wearing a t-shirt that said "Water is Life. #NODAPL".
I recognized this statement from recent news articles, Facebook posts and classroom conversations. The shirt is in reference to the construction of an oil-pipeline in North Dakota, which is a major cultural and environmental threat to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
If the pipe were to burst, it would contaminate the water supply for the Standing Rock Reservation. The pipelines route also goes through lands where the ancestors of the tribe hunted, fished and were buried.
Over the past few months, thousands of people have been making their way to protest. The pipeline was originally going to go through Bismarck, ND, but residents of the city feared that if something went wrong with the pipeline, it would contaminate their water supply.
Bismarck has a predominately white population, and with the United States’ track record of oppressing minorities, it is no surprise that the pipelines new, improved and "safe" route would instead go through Native American territory, thus, putting the Standing Rock water supply in danger.
Even though the construction of the pipeline is nearly finished, the protest is still going strong. In fact, within the next week, thousands of Veterans will be traveling to Standing Rock to serve as "human shields" for pipeline protesters.
The protests have been going on since last April, and were even happening last week when I, and most other Americans, were celebrating a holiday that is incorrectly taught in our schools, and misunderstood in our country.
In 1637, a band of Massachusetts colonists had just returned from what is now known as Mystic, Connecticut. There, they had massacred 700 men, women and children of the Pequot tribe. In celebration of the massacre and the colonists’ safe return, the Governor of the Massachusetts colony ordered a feast and proclaimed that day to be "Thanksgiving.”
It is certainly full-circle that in our country in 2016, Native Americans are still being threatened and oppressed on the holiday that celebrates a massacre of their people.
It's time for American citizens to fully understand what Thanksgiving represents, and why it is celebrated in our country. Families across America have many Thanksgiving traditions that include overeating, giving thanks and turkeys.
It's time to realize that America has its own Thanksgiving tradition of racism, oppression and violence.