Author: Logan

The Past Is Not Our Future

The Past Is Not Our Future

Op-Ed: End the romance of Thanksgiving, as a great Pequot scholar argued two centuries ago

From the perspective of an Indian warrior, the American holiday of Thanksgiving is a source of great sadness and regret. He is not alone; many indigenous tribes throughout the world have mourned the loss of life and spirit that accompanied the feast of abundance and feasting that has become synonymous with Thanksgiving. In 2016, then-president-elect Donald Trump proclaimed that he would “let America renew itself” by “eating an American Thanksgiving”—a holiday from which most Native Americans do not receive adequate relief.

The story here involves Thanksgiving as an American tradition. But it goes farther than that. It is a story about who we are as a people—about our history and our future—and about the ways in which we understand our relationship to our land and its people. For Native Americans, the past is not only an essential part of the story of our future. It is also, and often more vividly, not our future at all. I have been writing about this for years, but in this essay I want to offer a new perspective on this particular part of our story. I suggest that we have long underestimated the extent to which the past—in all its complexity—is actually a part of our future. If we could see that history in the fullness of its complexity, we would see that the very fact that we are now suffering the historical effects of a “white supremacist” philosophy that sees us as a “race” and a “ people” and as a culture, is a testament to the capacity of our people and our land to recover from its wounds—to find our way back to a better and richer and fully human condition.

The idea that Native American history and identity are an inseparable part of our present is not new. Nor is it easy to understand. But, as with so many things of great importance in our own history, it is something that must be learned at the feet of our ancestors—those indigenous men and women who have lived, struggled, and struggled with their land since before we were human.

There is a long tradition of writing about the Indians

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