harvest image
"Harvest" by Daniel D. Nicholas, Oneida/Cree, 1969, National Museum of the American Indian
Native American Perspectives on Thanksgiving
The Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian provides a wealth of perspectives often absent in American history textbooks and mainstream culture. Here are five curated favorites from the comprehensive collection filled with artwork and stories worth sharing.

Do American Indians celebrate Thanksgiving?

By Dennis Zotigh

How do Native Americans make peace with a national holiday that romanticizes the encounter between their ancestors and English settlers in 1621, and erases altogether the deadly conflicts between them that followed? The Smithsonian museum’s look at Thanksgiving and the history of Native and non-Native Americans in colonial New England includes new comments from American Indian friends, plus the witty video “The Invention of Thanksgiving,” from the award-winning exhibition “Americans.” Read on...

Everyone’s history matters: The Wampanoag Indian Thanksgiving story deserves to be known

By Lindsay McVay

The Thanksgiving story deeply rooted in America’s school curriculum frames the Pilgrims as the main characters and reduces the Wampanoag Indians to supporting roles. It also erases a monumentally sad history. The true history of Thanksgiving begins with the Indians. Read on...

Five Ideas to Change Teaching about Thanksgiving, in Classrooms and at Home

By Renée Gokey

Between Thanksgiving and Native American Heritage and Month, November is go-time for teaching and learning about Native America. Here, parent and museum educator Renée Gokey shares simple ways to make the responsibility less daunting. In addition to briefly describing strategies for learners K–12, Renée links to teaching resources from the museum and other organizations. And she notes that students can use Thanksgiving and their new tools for thinking about culture to learn and share more about their own family’s history and traditions. Read on...

Harvest Ceremony: Beyond the Thanksgiving Myth

By Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian

Native American people who first encountered the “pilgrims” at what is now Plymouth, Massachusetts play a major role in the imagination of American people today. Contemporary celebrations of the Thanksgiving holiday focus on the idea that the “first Thanksgiving” was a friendly gathering of two disparate groups—or even neighbors—who shared a meal and lived harmoniously. In actuality, the assembly of these people had much more to do with political alliances, diplomacy, and an effort at rarely achieved, temporary peaceful coexistence. Read on...

Seven Native American Chefs Share Thanksgiving Recipes

By Dennis Zotigh

To the original peoples of this continent, each day is a day to give thanks to the Creator. Thanksgiving ceremonies have always taken place whenever Native people have gathered, and food and feasts often serve as a focal point. For our national Thanksgiving, we’ve asked Native chefs Javier Kaulaity, Clayton Jones, Justin Pioche, Elena Terry, Brian Pekah, Monie Horsechief, and Anthony Warrior to share recipes inspired by Native American foods and techniques. Our hope during this unusual year is to bring something meaningful and new to your holiday. Read on...

*Originally published November 2021


Accelerate Editorial Team

Health care professionals who lead development and production of this learning community (see About), University of Utah Health

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