In Canada it is almost Thanksgiving. I love this time of year. Our turkey is out of the freezer. Our house is actually clean :) and the sun is shining outside.
As you might know by reading through my blog, you know that I wasn't raised in Canada. I grew up in Holland and Thanksgiving isn't huge there. So I just wanted to see for myself what this festival was all about.
A couple of weeks ago I red this quote: 'The Pilgrims made seven more graves than huts. No American or Canadian have been more impoverished than these who nevertheless, set aside a day of Thanksgiving.'
You know, for the seven years that we lived in Winnipeg, Manitoba, we lived as a family close to many of our dear friends who are Native American. I love them and their culture. And personally I think they are true survivors.
You might think.. 'What does that have to do with 'Thanksgiving?'
Is it okay to tell you a bit about my thoughts here?
Did you know that when the Europeans / the Pilgrims came to 'Canada and the US' that while they were settling here.. they or shall I say their actions 'killed' close to 20 million Native families. I hope this is not the first time you hear about this.
I red an article written by Jacqueline Keeler who is a member of the Dineh Nation in the US. When the Pilgrims came Plymouth Rock, they were poor and hungry. Half of them died within a few months of disease and hunger. Many Native People took pity on them and helped them survive the cold winter. Their English crops had failed and the Native People fed them through the winter and taught them how to grow their food.
These were not just friendly Native people. They had already experienced European slave traders raiding their villages for a hundred years or so and while they were worried they still chose to help the Pilgrims. It was one of their ways; 'To give freely to them that have nothing'. It was their way of earning respect by not holding back. They believed that by giving their should be enough for all.
I am so sad to write this down, but the Europeans saw the Native People as 'heathens and of the devil' (sigh) and they saw them as an instrument of their God to help them do what they had to do .... At the first Thanksgiving The Wampanoags provided most of the food and signed a treaty granting the Pilgrims the right to the land at Plymouth, the real reason for the first Thanksgiving.
And what did the Europeans give back in return? Respect? I don't think so from what I understand about history. Within 20 years European disease and treachery had decimated the Wampanoags (native people). Most diseases came from animals that Europeans had domesticated. Cowpox from cows led to smallpox. One of the biggest killers of the Native People. This disease spread through gifts of blankets used by infected Europeans. Some estimate that diseases accounted for a death toll of 90 percent in some Native American communities. By 1623, Mather the elder, a Pilgrim leader, was giving thanks to his god for destroying the heathen savages to make way for a better growth', meaning his people....
I am sure many Pilgrims were truly upset with this way of thinking. I know I am.. Big time.. I hate what happened in all those years.. All I know is .. Many many Native People died and did not survive while they were trying to share their land with us. Oh .. my heart cries for the injustice that has happened.
Europeans trading alcohol for meat and fur.. And while many Native people turned into alcoholics, killing of their own country.. the Europeans made 'gold' back in Europe selling this fur.
The Europeans killed off the millions of Buffalo.. which was so important to the Native People to survive, and they knew.. without the Buffalo's they would have no way of surviving the winters.. And so it happened... How evil..
Nd here we are in 2010.. telling each other to have a Happy Thanksgiving.. And I want it to be one for you and your family.. But please keep in mind that there is a bigger picture.. One that needs forgiveness and grace and respect for the Native people who sacrificed a lot for us to be able to live the way we live!
And maybe in your own home you need grace and forgiveness as well to be able to turn back to being Thankful for what you have.
I am not sure if this all makes sense to you. I am just trying here to bring a bit of justice to the Native People. I cannot change what happened for them in the past. And I am sure writing on my blog about Justice doesn't do much at all.. but I just had to get it out.. and I hope it will open a chapter in your heart where you will look at them in a new way.
I am honoured by the Native People that want to be our friends.. I am thankful that I am able to learn from them. I respect them and love them.
Enjoy the ones you love this weekend and thanks for hanging in there with me.
Big hug, Pauline