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Forget Thanksgiving: Here’s Five Ways To Support Indigenous Communities Instead

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FSU chapter.

If you grew up going to school in the US, I’m sure you remember being told a watered-down story about the shipful of pilgrims who stumbled upon a Native American tribe and their far too kind leader. The story ensues as the pilgrims are taught by the Natives how to plant their own crops, and in turn, create a day of “giving thanks” to the tribe for all their help. 

Although the tribe had been well-established in the first place and ended up worse off with the arrival of the pilgrims, we now celebrate “Thanksgiving” as a holiday where we crowd around our nosey family members and eat ungodly amounts of food in the shortest period of time possible. But if you’re like me and have long realized that the real story behind Thanksgiving is not one to be celebrated, here are some ways to support and acknowledge indigenous communities this fall and all year-round.

1. Donate

dollar bills
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon from Unsplash
Save the money (and time!) you would’ve used to make an elaborate thanksgiving spread and put it towards an organization in need. Look up charities that are local to you and your community or use this list of national ones to get you started. Even the smallest of donations can make a huge difference in the efforts of these organizations in making sure that native communities get all of the resources that they need.

2. Educate yourself
person typing on a laptop
Photo by Kaitlyn Baker from Unsplash

The internet has a number of plentiful resources to add to your knowledge of native history, so there’s no excuse! Websites like NativeLand and NativeLanguages make it easy to learn not only about the tribes specific to where you live but also about tribes in other states and even other countries. For those with extra time on their hands, here’s a list of films and documentaries that touch on all corners of native life without enforcing stereotypes. And if you’re a reader, go ahead and decolonize your bookshelf with these native titles.  

3. Support a native business

Show your support by purchasing products from small businesses in native communities. This is the perfect way to make sure your money is supporting all the right people, and of course, you get some goodies out of it too, especially with Christmas right around the corner. Always do extra research about whether the products you’re buying are authentic and use this awesome list of native-owned online businesses that sell everything from jewelry to organic raw honey.

4. Cook something non-traditional

Photo by One Shot from Pexels
Try and cook up a few indigenous-inspired dishes that incorporate the same ingredients we see on the Thanksgiving table every year. And if fall-themed foods aren’t your thing, gather everything you need for that one recipe you just never got around to making. TBH, pumpkin pie is overrated anyway.

5. Talk

two women talking at a table together work business casual
Pexels / Christina Morillo
If you still find yourself being pulled into the usual Thanksgiving festivities, encourage family and friends to learn more about the history behind Thanksgiving. Share a post on social media to let all your followers in on the Thanksgiving truth. Don’t be afraid to express your gratitude on a day that’s supposed to be about “giving thanks,” but try not to forget about the underlying cruelties of this outdated holiday. 

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Her Campus at Florida State University.