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Haylee’s Hub: Rethinking Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a fan-favorite holiday. With the food and the family gatherings, it's hard not to love the holiday. With all the warm feelings associated with Thanksgiving, it's easier to take the holiday at face value. While it's perfectly okay to spend the holiday with family and enjoy some good food, it is also important to be aware of many of the false portrayals Thanksgiving often perpetuates.

I bet we all have memories of learning about Thanksgiving as kids: coloring in pictures of pilgrims and Native Americans and reading stories about the great feast. However, these stories purposely leave out the centuries of atrocities Native American people faced in the wake of this feast. 

In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln established Thanksgiving to improve relations across the U.S. amid the unrest that plagued the country. Just a year prior to this proclamation, Dakota Tribal Members fought back against a government agent's corrupt treatment, which caused mass hunger in the tribe and ultimately resulted in the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862. Following the war, President Lincoln ordered 38 Dakota men to be hanged. Thanksgiving was seemingly a way to attempt to ease any unrest caused by this war. The story of the Dakota Tribe is just one example of the horrific and unjust treatment Native American tribes have faced throughout U.S. history.

Many teachings around Thanksgiving outright ignore the treatment Native American people faced at the hands of European settlers. It would be impossible to list everything the Native American population faced and still continues to face to this day because of colonization. The commonly taught story of Thanksgiving is an event frozen in time where there was peace and kindness between European settlers and Native Americans. However, by just teaching this small moment in history, it completely disregards the centuries of oppression and harm that still perpetuates. The United American Indians of New England have considered Thanksgiving a national day of mourning

Now, I'm not saying that you should completely ditch Thanksgiving. You can still gather with family and enjoy the food and center the holiday around celebrating time with loved ones. However, I urge everyone to educate themselves on the true meaning behind the holiday and amplify Native voices. 

Haylee Leasure is a sophomore studying journalism. Please note that the opinions expressed in this column do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk about the column? Email Haylee at

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