Every November, millions of American families come together to celebrate what we know as Thanksgiving. We plan our shopping lists, decorate our homes, and invest in a ridiculous amount of pumpkin spice everything—all in commemoration of a feast shared between the pilgrims of Plymouth Rock and the Wampanoag People.
Even as children, we’re shown beautiful images of Native Americans and Pilgrims sitting amongst each other giving thanks for the harvest in good fellowship.
However, the story of the Native Americans that received Europe’s new world colonies is not one filled with rainbows and sunshine. The Wampanoag People of today share a different version of Thanksgiving history than what the average American has been led to believe.
In recent years, many families have decided to do something different in place of the American holiday. Instead of celebrating from the colonizer’s perspective, families are educating themselves in remembrance of the Native Americans that have suffered unjustly at the hands of colonization in the past to present. Homeschooling can make room for this through incorporating a few things into your lesson plans that you won’t typically find in the average curriculum.
As a homeschooler, one of the most logical ways to introduce your family to the truth about Thanksgiving is simply teaching the truth! We can make the conscious decision to teach truth to our children in our homeschool environment.
Unfortunately, wading through the immense amount of grossly misinformed and eurocentric curriculum can be daunting, so we’ve pulled a few resources that we’ve found to get you started.
We’ve only included links to resources and information written from the Native American perspective by Native Americans, and stories told from their voices.
Native Knowledge 360
Here is a downloadable PDF for grade levels 4-8 from Native Knowledge 360 that shares Native American perspectives on Thanksgiving and a more accurate account of the Wampanoag Peoples’ role in the first Thanksgiving.
Native American Curriculum Review Blog is a great resource if you’re interested in decolonizing your way of teaching and learning about Native American cultures and customs. Not all educational resources are created equal and most of what is shared about Native tribes is stereotypical, limited in perspective, and full of misinformation. Their blog provides curriculum recommendations and room for discussion surrounding Native American representation. You can find tips on how to address the myths of Thanksgiving with your children by clicking here.
Native Lands App
The Native Lands app is an interactive map that can be used to learn about indigenous peoples and languages in your area and across the world. Click here to give it a try!
Videos are a simple and efficient way to introduce the topic to your family. They do not require much planning and can be played in the car, at home, and pretty much anywhere.
Here are a few videos worth checking out:
Books written from the Native American perspective by Native Americans:
Cool Mom Picks provides a nice list Of children’s books.
FirstNations.org also offers an extensive directory of books for all ages.
Last but not least, you can visit and support local tribal organizations. We have the Cultural Catawba Center in Rock Hill, South Carolina right here in our backyard! You can schedule a visit and support the Catawba Nation. Learn more here.
This Thanksgiving, we hope more families carve out some time to recognize the contributions of Native Americans, and specifically, the Wampanoag People. Some of the foods that we eat and claim as American Thanksgiving dishes are actually Native American dishes appropriated. Inserting truth into this Thanksgiving can simply be finding out why we eat what we eat for the Thanksgiving holiday. You don’t have to start big this year, but please, start somewhere.
Happy Truthsgiving from Akoma Cares.
Shamay Oware, Executive Director—Akoma Cares