Thanksgiving Day is just as complex and layered as the casseroles eaten at dinners held across the country for the holiday. As millions of Americans celebrate family, friends, and unwavering gratitude, Indigenous peoples are tasked with refocusing the narrative to center the genocide of their ancestors. Society’s refusal to recognize and account for intergenerational damage contributes to the persistent socio-economic disparities that plague their communities today.
It is estimated that 15 million Native Americans lived in North America when Christopher Columbus arrived in 1492. By the end of the 19th century, only 238,000 remained. While thousands of Native women and children continue to live there. disappear and activists are imprisoned for protecting the environment, solidarity with indigenous communities is more critical than ever.
Throughout American history, they have survived more than 1,500 wars, ambushes, raids and seizures, all sanctioned by the United States government. Yet their daring love, indomitable resilience, ancestral bond, and constant quest for healing disrupt the colonial norms that shape today’s social ecology.
These 9 Indigenous activists, educators and healers are breaking down common misconceptions about Thanksgiving and Indigenous history.
For Soni Lopez-Chavez, the pursuit of passion and beauty called his whole life. Born in the bustling city of Guanajuato, Mexico, Soni moved early on to San Diego where she has resided ever since and always inspired by the beautiful landscapes and diverse cultures. Currently emphasizing digital illustration as a medium of choice, Soni’s work embodies thrilling color schemes and heritage themes based on his own Indigenous origins and childhood.
“My parents gave up so much and worked tirelessly to give me better opportunities. For them and for me, I create images to raise awareness, help heal and inspire. I encourage you to support the healing process and self-determination of Indigenous communities. Learn more about Indigenous rights by helping those who have already worked on these issues for a long time, such as Indigenous artists, business owners, journalists and community organizers. —Soni Lopez-Chavez
Corinne Gray Cloud is Lakota and Mohawk and lives in Mission SD. She is the CEO of Rice Consulting LLC, a diversity equity and inclusion firm that works on indigenous-specific DCI trainings for Fortune 500 companies. Their articles and work have been published in the Huffington Post, Al Jazeera, and Google. She is currently on the staff of Powwow.com and sits on numerous boards, including Feminist on Instagram.
“Thanksgiving is a complicated holiday for many people, but especially for Aboriginal people. For centuries we have been presented with a narrative that eludes the natives who gave the land they manage to the colonizers when in fact this interaction was bloody and traumatic with lasting effect today. I encourage the non-native population to embrace Thanksgiving as a day to thank loved ones and to abandon the legend of a peaceful and imaginary dinner between “pilgrims and Indians”. It’s good to embrace what is the truth of our history, while working to make our nation a better and more inclusive one. ” – Corrine Nuage Gris
Pınar Sinopoulos-Lloyd (they / them) is an award-winning multi-species indigenous futurist, Quechua genus technologist, wildlife stalker and trans ecophilosopher. They are with their spouse the co-founders of Strange nature, a transdisciplinary “body” that manages the Earth-based queer community through survival skills, multispecies kinship and rites of passage. Their relationship to transity, hybridity, neurodivergence, indigeneity and belonging has guided their work in the development of queer ecopsychology through a decolonial and autistic lens. As a Survival Skills Mentor, one of their primary missions is to elevate and amplify the brilliant “survival skills” that BIPOC, 2SLGBTQ + and other systematically targeted populations already have in their resilient survival bodies. .
“An integral way to support Indigenous peoples is to honor Indigenous cosmological technologies – this includes our prismatic genres. Gender liminality is an indigenous cosmological technology. This includes the disruption of the cicheteropatriarchate which is a tool of settler colonialism. technique for the creation of the world during the collapse and the apocalypse (Pachacuti). This original Futurist’s instruction is rooted in our origin story as Qariwarmis, our Two-Spirit (2S) Andean role. Focus and amplify the leadership and brilliance of 2S and trans Indigenous people. “- Pınar Sinopoulos-Lloyd
Luis Rodríguez (Mixcoatl Itztlacuiloh) and Trini Rodríguez (Tlazohteotl) have been Indigenous spiritual practitioners and activists for over 30 years, based in the San Fernando Valley (SFV) section of Los Angeles. Luis is Mexica / Raramuri and Trini is Mexica / Wixarika. Their teachers have been among the Dine (Navajo), Lakota, Akimel O’oldham, Mexica (in Mexico and the United States), Maya (in Mexico and Guatemala), Pibil from El Salvador and Quechua in Peru, among others. . Luis is part of the Turtle Lodge of the SFV. Trini runs the Hummingbird Women’s Lodge. They are co-founders of the Centro Cultural & Bookstore de Tia Chucha de Sylmar CA, an indigenous art and literacy center. They also run the podcast “Hummingbird Cricket Time” which approaches personal and social issues from an Indigenous perspective.
“Clarity is also medicine. “ – Luis & Trini Rodriguez
Fidel Rodriguez works as a producer, educator, mentor and organizer. For over 20 years, he produced several award-winning radio shows for Clear Channel and Pacifica Radio. He has developed educational lectures, concerts, and facilitated wellness and leadership trainings for numerous businesses, government agencies, and non-profit organizations. Fidel has been an international speaker on topics ranging from culture, history, shamanism, spirituality, conscience, welfare, violence, decolonization and the creation of paradigm shifts in thought. For more than a decade, Fidel worked for the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission where he facilitates adult leadership training and creates youth development and wellness workshops for youth affected by trauma. and the juvenile justice system. These workshops focus on practical wellness tools, history, trauma, poverty, racism, leadership and healing. Fidel graduated from the University of Southern California as a McNair Fellow with degrees in Chicano / Latin and African American Studies, a Certified Coach for Franklin Covey, and is an Awo Insider, i.e. who has specialized and esoteric knowledge and wisdom, in the ancient wisdom known as Ifa.
“The transformation of human consciousness is upon us, we are all feeling it. Now is the time to let go of the painful experiences you had on your journey that are now living in your mind. Let go of them, they no longer serve you. Connect at all times with Mother Earth and your ancestors. Love yourself, share benevolence with all the beings you meet and may your character not spoil your destiny. We are the ancestors of those who are not yet born. With deep gratitude to all who read these words. You are loved.” – Fidel Rodriguez
Allen Salway is Diné, 23, Oglala Lakota, Writer Tohono O’odham and Cultural Curator of the Navajo Nation.
“For me, Thanksgiving is a reminder of our resistance as indigenous people navigating this settler society that continually tries to erase and destroy us. Yet we are still here. – Allen Salway
Diné scholar born and raised in the Navajo nation, Charlie Amáyá Scott (they) reflects, analyzes and critiques what it means to be a Diné in the 21st century on his personal blog, dineaesthetics.com, while inspiring joy and justice to thousands of people on Instagram and TikTok at @dineaesthetics.
“My ancestors and the ancestors of so many indigenous communities survived displacement, displacement and genocide. No matter what this colonizing world tries to do, we will continue to be here to remind people of our strength, our beauty and our voice. Today and every day, I celebrate the brilliance of Indigenous peoples and hope others will join me. Learn and grow a little more, and challenge the colonial tales that are told to us and support indigenous peoples, our problems and our causes. “-Charlie amaya scott
Xiuhtezcatl, Mexica and Xochimilca, connects many worlds through her music and her voice. As an Indigenous designer, his vision comes to life at the intersection of art, storytelling and community organizing. A multi-faceted performer and Hip Hop artist, Xiuhtezcatl’s music serves as a vehicle to reclaim space, build community and engage his generation to reimagine our future.
“Indigenous peoples are reclaiming space and changing cultures everywhere we look, from the climate movement to the fashion and entertainment industry and beyond. As we continue to demolish the physical and symbolic monuments of slavery and genocide, I encourage you all to tap into the wave of Indigenous creators, artists, storytellers, organizers and leaders. Familiarize yourself with the complexity and diversity of Indigenous peoples and voices. This is where our strength lies. Before you know it, we’ll be impossible to ignore. – Xiuhtezcatl