On this month’s show—Thanksgiving. Essentially, why do we still celebrate this racist, colonial holiday? Thanksgiving perpetuates white supremacy and romanticized notions about Indigenous Peoples. To celebrate the current Thanksgiving mythology is to celebrate the theft of land through ethnic cleansing and enslavement. I interview three Indigenous guests who are pushing back at Thanksgiving through protest or alternative celebrations.
For the past 46 years, on Thanksgiving morning, Alcatraz is closed for the day to regular visitors to allow for the local Indigenous community to carry out its yearly Indigenous Peoples Sunrise Ceremony, also known as, Unthanksgiving Day. It was founded in 1975, in contrast to Thanksgiving, to commemorate the survival of Indigenous Nations. Dr. LaNada Warjack is the last living student leader from the occupation of Alcatraz and has been attending the Sunrise Ceremony for many years. Dr. Warjack is Shoshone-Bannock from the Fort Hall Nation in Idaho. She is the last living student leader that took Alcatraz in 1969 from UC Berkeley–the 19-month student occupation, which was the benchmark that changed the termination era for Indian people to the self-determination era. More about Dr Warjack at https://drwarjack.com/ .
We also speak with Kisha James, granddaughter of Frank James, founder of the National Day of Mourning. Kisha is an enrolled member of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head and Oglala Lakota, and a youth organizer and archivist for the United American Indians of New England. Since 1970, Indigenous Peoples & their allies have gathered at noon on Cole’s Hill in Plymouth to commemorate a National Day of Mourning on the US Thanksgiving holiday. It is a day of remembrance as well as a protest against the racism and oppression that Indigenous people continue to experience worldwide. More about Unite American Indians of New England at http://www.uaine.org/ .
Finally, for the past five years, Great Plains Action Society has been providing folks in Iowa and surrounding states with a better way to celebrate the harvest season by promoting Truthsgiving. Every year, they organize celebrations and mutual aid work. To talk about that, we caught up with Jessica Engelking, an organizer with Great Plains Action Society. Jessica is Anishinaabe and a descendant of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe. She is the author of “Peggy Flanagan: Ogimaa Kwe, Lieutenant Governor”, which is a part of the Minnesota Native American Lives series and has been organizing around Truthsgivng with Great Plains Action Society for the past few years. More about Truthsgiving at https://www.truthsgiving.org/ and order a “Whitewashed” shirt at https://www.humanizemyhoodie.com/shop/whitewashed-tee .