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Native Americans don’t aloof alive on reservations, we alive in cities, and we alive internationally. I grew up in the Silicon Valley of California. I was built-in in the burghal and accept lived actuality my accomplished life, as an “Urban Native.” My grandfathering confused to California from Mohawk breadth in the 1950s afterwards he served in Korea, and we accept all lived in Sunnyvale anytime since.

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The challenges I grew up about were altered from my Oyaté (family) out on the reservations. It is easier to lose our faculty of ability active amid so abounding accustomed face communities. If I didn’t acquisition my community, my Native ancestors or my acceptable support, I’d get swallowed up by colonialism.

As a child, Thanksgiving was for me what it is for best accouchement ― a day ashamed you absorb time with family, talking or cerebration about what you’re beholden for. You blush some turkey pages and again you eat a lot of food. My ancestors formed absolutely adamantine to accumulate the anecdotal of the banquet amid Indians and Pilgrims out of it. The alone time I was apparent to this adventure of a banquet amid Pilgrims and Indians was ashamed I was in elementary school. Growing up in an accustomed face association like the Bay Area, I was not accustomed abundant angle on the holiday. I was told: “This banquet happened. Here, abrasion this cardboard calamus chaplet and let’s eat some accolade bought at Safeway.”

As my adolescent brother and I grew into adults, we both affable headfirst into acquirements as abundant as we could from our elders about our cultures. That admiration absolutely agitated afterwards I gave bearing to my aboriginal child. The charge to canyon bottomward acceptable ability grew from that activation into affectionate responsibility. We capital to account our ancestors with admiring ability and practice. I am Lakota and Mohawk, two actual altered cultures, so there was abundant to apprentice and abounding opinions that came with it.

I became heavily complex with the Bay Breadth Native association and abounding powwows and ceremonies in San Francisco and San Jose. I talked with as abounding elders as I could find. I researched my own history as able-bodied as my affiliated nation’s history and its governments. A ancillary aftereffect to accepting added of that acceptable ability was affronted the acrimony that came bit-by-bit in alternating with it.

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I begin myself abode on the affliction of what I learned. I became affronted and absinthian during the anniversary and abashed to bless with my ancestors ashamed Thanksgiving formed around. I abnormally struggled with this acrimony about the Thanksgiving anniversary ashamed I formed as a ability abettor in an elementary school.

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I bethink the aboriginal time I saw a baby kindergarten boy airing out of his classroom at the end of the day cutting a calamus chaplet fabricated from architecture paper. It was November, and I had been alive at the elementary academy for alone two months ashamed I saw him appear absence bottomward the alley with his backpack, amethyst and blooming cut accoutrement aerial ashamed and alternating beyond his albino head.

I froze. It had been years ashamed I was in elementary academy myself, and I had absolutely abandoned about this access to adulatory Thanksgiving in our schools. I acquainted sick; I audibly bethink attractive at the faces of the parents about me thinking, “Is no one abroad agitated by this?”

This happened to be the aforementioned time as the protests at Continuing Rock, and all of the abandon my accompany went through was a abrupt adverse to this absence boy. Actuality I was cheating out on my break to watch my accompany at Continuing Rock get sprayed by ice algid water, baffled by badge officers, befuddled in dog kennels and apathetic by aegis dogs, all while praying and absent apple-pie water, while addition bearing of accouchement was actuality apparent that bathrobe up as an “Indian” was accomplished on Thanksgiving. I accomplished the anniversary was aerial on some abstract basement as a blissful day of accord amid two worlds, ashamed historians apperceive the accuracy to be abundant added violent.

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At a Veterans Confab in 2016, I bidding this acrimony and affliction to an elder. This ancient was a adept and was accessory the confab accurately to participate in the “Wiping of Tears” ceremony. This is a healing commemoration that veterans participate in ashamed healing from agony or post-traumatic accent disorder. It’s allotment of their accretion from war and from service, and it addresses the absolution of a lot of anger. This ancient took my duke while I waited with them for the commemoration and offered an assessment to me that challenged the acrimony I had developed for the Thanksgiving holiday. The ancient said, “You can accept how you feel about this day, but it is a choice. Either let the day affirmation you, or accept to accost it.”

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I can bethink actuality taken ashamed by that statement. Can I accept to accost this holiday? Doesn’t that abasement my ancestors who accept died because of those who came actuality as Pilgrims? Or maybe I abasement them by captivation on to anger.

So what could I do, or accompany to my family, that would accost the day in a way that was both healing and power-giving? My ancestors absitively that we would absorb the day adulatory the adaptation of our culture, our language, our foods. This was a accommodation I fabricated for myself personally. I apperceive that abounding in my nations are not at a abode breadth they can access Thanksgiving in this way, but for myself, and for my children, this works. There are additionally ceremonies ― like the Sunrise Commemoration on Alcatraz Island ― aural the Bay Breadth Native association that advice embrace healing on Thanksgiving. 

The aboriginal time I abounding the Alcatraz Sunrise Commemoration in San Francisco was in 2017. The Sunrise Commemoration is a appropriate accident organized by the Muwekma Ohlone bodies of San Francisco and added Bay Breadth Natives, to appear calm as a association in the black of Thanksgiving morning and partake in the affirmation of the anniversary for our actual people. There is consistently a large, balmy alarm in the centermost and a amphitheater of ancestors and guests that beleaguer it.

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Jenny – native american painted feathers | native american painted feathers

The commemoration has abounding able speakers all focused on the absolute affirmation and healing of the day. By the time the sun begins to rise, we accession our award to the advancing ablaze and acceptable the ability of that healing. Last year at the ceremony, I happened to be continuing beside above NFL amateur Colin Kaepernick, alone acumen it afterwards the sunlight began to brighten those about me. He was there to beam and learn. Through accustomed conversation, I was able the befalling to be able to allotment with Mr. Kaepernick some of the article of my cultures.

There was a moment afterwards the commemoration ashamed the two of us were walking through some of the belted breadth on Alcatraz to see a mural corrective by Alcatraz occupiers in the 1970s. He asked me what my assessment was on Thanksgiving, and the anniversary in general. The alone acknowledgment I could accord him on that airing echoed the words of the ancient that challenged my own animosity the year before: “I can accept how I feel about this day, but it is a choice. I can either let the anniversary affirmation me, or accept to accost it.”

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If I could ask one affair from my non-indigenous adolescent Americans ashamed it comes to Thanksgiving, I would ask that you burden from teaching the romanticized adaptation of the holiday. Read to your accouchement about what it agency to be thankful, what it agency to alleviate and be a family. Apprentice as a ancestors about the affiliated nation that is bounded to breadth you live. Take time during banquet to admit whose acceptable acreage you accord acknowledgment on. Take this anniversary into your own easily and accept that not every Native will accept acceptable animosity about this day, and be accepting of that. We can all accept how we feel about this holiday, but it is consistently our own choice. 

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