Thanksgiving is a holiday meant to celebrate togetherness with family, bloodline or chosen. Despite the positive aspects of Turkey Day, the history of the holiday can prove problematic for many: while we often revere the pilgrims for their compromise with the natives, we also simplify the role that the natives played.
The National Museum of the American Indian notes in an annual report that Thanksgiving only references American-Indians as passive, primitive hunter-gatherers who shared a meal with the pilgrims. In reality, “the real story is much deeper, richer, and more nuanced. The Indians in attendance, the Wampanoag,…were a people with a sophisticated society….for whom giving thanks was a part of daily life.” Don’t get me wrong, Thanksgiving is still important, but it seems remiss to exclude Native Americans from the narrative in an intelligent way.
To help remedy this issue, I thought it fitting to identify Native American organizations to support this Thanksgiving. These organizations work every day to properly educate people on Native Americans.
- The National Museum of the American Indian (Smithsonian)
November is Native American Heritage Month! As such, the Smithsonian has a multitude of resources to better inform the public on this important month. Their “education” section of their website sketches a more generalized understanding of Native culture, and most of their exhibitions have websites detailing their research.
- The American Indian Center
The American Indian Center is locally based in comparison with the NMAI. This Chicago organization is best known for its work with the Chicago Blackhawks, transforming the mascot from a stark stereotype to a nuanced celebration of the tribe and their contributions to Chicago. While they’re no longer affiliated with the Blackhawks, they are actively engaged in the culture of Chicago, hosting events and partnering with local museums.
- The Indian Law Resource Center
This last resource is one filled with a plethora of information, stemming from its own projects as a law center to general information spanning multiple tribes and communities. Particularly important is the center’s “issues” section, with detailed descriptions of problems plaguing Native American communities that may have been overlooked previously. Even more publicized issues, such as preservation of natural resources or protection of the Amazon rainforest from the fires, have crucial context that if addressed, can better the Amerians as a whole.
All in all, these organizations can serve as important resources, whether through a five-minute look or a deeper-dive into the information provided.