Going Beyond Indigenous People’s Day and Thanksgiving

Going Beyond Indigenous People’s Day and Thanksgiving

October and November bring us the holidays of Columbus Day and Thanksgiving. Two moments on the calendar that require us to reckon with the way Native people have been treated historically and how we retell that history in the present day. Often times parents find these holidays as their first opportunities to reflect on how to address Native American history and learn more about tribes today. This time of year offers the chance to highlight a counter narrative that Native people are not static - confined to a time in place in history - but dynamic, and very much present and facing oppression today.

Yet confining them to October/November goes to further perpetuate Native people only being present in a specific time - instead of seeing them all around us, all of the time. (And here I am doing just that. I recognize the hypocrisy here, and also firmly believe that today is a great day to start a new pattern of noticing Native voices. #joinme!)

Because we do see Native People everywhere - we just haven’t been taught to recognize their presence. Many states and cities in the United States get their names from the tribes that used to inhabit that land, even Missouri (from the Missouria tribe, present day Ote-Missouria tribe) and Illinois (from the Illini tribe, present day Peoria tribe)! There is so much history that we can be learning about year-round.

In the spirit of building on timely energy, below are some questions to consider, resources and book recommendations. These are a great place to start if: this is the first time you’re having these conversations, your family’s ready for more nuanced conversations, or you find yourself wanting to revisit different ways to make Native people visible throughout the year!   

Beyond conversations about Columbus Day and Thanksgiving, what information are you missing to give Indigenous people a fuller narrative?

Indigenous People are all around us, look below to see just some of the ways that Naive People are present in our country.

BROWSE These beautiful photos of members of the 562 recognized tribes

Native Map This constantly updating map illustrates which tribes lived where - all over the world!

Recent Supreme Court Ruling on Native American Voter Suppression

Learn more about the 7 tribes of Missouri and their individual histories

Jade Venditte-Page over at Villa di Maria put together this astounding resource guide for American Indian Heritage Month.

Teaching Thanksgiving in a Socially Responsible Way

Want to build a firmer foundation in how to talk about conflicting narratives present around Thanksgiving? Check out our 2016 blog post for some more ideas.

9 Resources for talking about Indigenous People’s Day (Columbus Day) with your kids


Hiawatha and the Peacemaker by Robbie Robertson

I Am Not A Number by Jenny Kay Dupuis and Kathy Kacer

Stolen Words by Melanie Florence

Wild Berries by Julie Flett

Saltypie: A Choctaw Journey From Darkness Into Light by Tim Tingle

Jingle Dancer by Cynthia Leitich Smith

My Heart Fills With Happiness by Monique Gray Smith

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