Public Witness

Rethinking Thanksgiving

Allison Tanner

November 20, 2020

The East Bay is traditional Lisjan Ohlone land and Oakland rests upon the ancestral and unceded land of the Chochenyo Ohlone people.

Ever since witnessing settler colonial practices on vivid display during my first visit to the Holy Land, I have needed to re-think the ways in which I live as a settler on lands that have been violently stolen from native peoples who have cared for them for countless generations. I have had to learn histories I wasn’t exposed to growing up and to unlearn myths I had been taught. I have slowly begun to realize the many ways I have taken for granted how I benefit from the sins of colonization – past sins that I didn’t commit but profoundly benefit from, as well as sins that continue to rob indigenous peoples of their identity, history and resources.

Thanksgiving is a particularly painful reminder of of the disconnect between national rhetoric and the lived realities of native peoples. As I continue my process of learning, unlearning and re-learning, I wanted to share with you a few resources that I have found helpful in seeking to honor and give thanks for the peoples who have so long cared for this land that abundantly provides for us.

Land Acknowledgment

Acknowledging the ancient peoples of the land is a powerful way to remember and re-learn about the first peoples of the land in which you live, move and have your being. Here is a simple land acknowledgment you might consider sharing at your Thanksgiving table (or zoom gathering) this year:

Acknowledgment of Traditional Territory Adapted from Honoring First People by Addie Domske – We begin by acknowledging the traditional territory upon which we gather today. For many thousands of years, the [insert name of those native to the land] people sought to walk gently on this land. They offered assistance to the first European travelers to this territory and shared their knowledge for survival in what was at times a harsh climate. We seek a new relationship with the Original Peoples of this land, one based in honor and deep respect.

Contribute to Needs of Native Peoples

Financial contributions are one way for those who have been able to accumulate wealth to recirculate their resources with those who have not had the same opportunities, often due to racist and economic barriers. There are a number of organizations to contribute to, and Lakeshore’s Hunger Task Force has long partnered with the work of Intertribal Friendship House. In addition to charitable giving, I encourage you to consider the request of native peoples in our community to pay shuumi as a form of individual reparations

Shuumi Land Tax. Shuumi means gift in chochenyo. The Shuumi Land Tax is an invitation to support the work of the Sogorea Te’ Land Trust, an urban, Indigenous women-led land trust that facilitates the return of Indigenous land to Indigenous people. From their website: “[Paying shummi is] a small step towards acknowledging the history of genocide on this land and contributing to its healing. The Shuumi Land Tax is a voluntary annual contribution that non-Indigenous people living on traditional Lisjan Ohlone territory make to support the critical work of the Sogorea Te’ Land Trust.”

Ongoing Education

There are countless ways to learn more about the native peoples who have cared for the land we call home. A simple place to start is to check out this map of native peoples across Turtle Island (the name many indigenous people use for the United States). Personally, I’m looking forward to attending today’s Interfaith Vigil led by Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity You can watch a recording of this sacred vigil of listening, learning, and healing at some point in the week ahead.

Living with Integrity on Indigenous Land
In this season of gratitude and Thanksgiving, this vigil will be an opportunity to re-think the national story of Thanksgiving. It is an invitation to all in the interfaith community to learn from indigenous peoples how we can live with integrity as migrants, settlers, and non-indigenous people on indigenous land.

This FridayNovember 20 | 10:00 am – 11:00 am (PST)
Facebook Live: @IM4HumanIntegrityFacebook Event Page This link will also provide a recording of the vigil following the event
You can also join on Zoom

Wishing you a week filled with gratitude for land, love, abundance and community,

Pastor Allison