Healing cannot happen without acknowledgment.
Acknowledgment cannot happen without the truth.
The truth cannot happen if people refuse to see it and speak it.
To begin and be a part of the healing you can start here:
Today’s Letter from the Red Thread Cafe is for those in the Intentional Creativity community that want to learn more about the United States based Thanksgiving myth and work towards healing on behalf of Native People and all who dwell here. Help us get to over 1,500! The best way to share the pledge is not to forward or share someone else’s post, but to make your own and use this URL:
Red Thread Letter #865
Healing Cannot Happen Without Acknowledgment
Wherever you are today I am sending love along the Red Thread from my heart to yours. I stood at sunrise in the Los Angeles area and raised my hands to collect the sun in my palms as I was taught many years ago by a Chumash elder from this area. They have lived here for 10,000 years.
There is a legend that their Earth Goddess Hutash created the Chumash people from special magical seeds. They arrived here after crossing a rainbow bridge that she made for them from the Island they originated from (Santa Cruz Island). Today, as I welcome the sun I think of that rainbow bridge story. Wishing we could have a bridge to healing appear right now.
The soul of the United States will not have healing without acknowledgment of the truth of the Native American story. Today, what the US Citizens call Thanksgiving is the perfect day to begin to create healing in yourself and your family by acknowledging the truth, seeing it and speaking it and feeling it.
To those who are American Indian of the many Tribes in our community, I want you to know my heart and action is with you this day and every day. I have had the honor of working with many of you, and it has shaped my very life. I will continue.
We all know that the conquest and privatization of this land and the original stewards is not something that happened over 500 years ago, in the past. The ongoing genocide is something that is happening every single day in this nation without proper acknowledgment.
Healing begins in each of us by first acknowledging there is something to heal. Acknowledgment is beginning and is a part of the reparation journey. Today, no matter where you live, seek and speak a more true story, it is a start. We also invite you to take action to sign and share our Good Relations Pledge. Read it out loud to your family. Send it to your friends. We could no longer wait for acknowledgment from the Nation as a whole, we had to begin at the level of the individual and organizations who care.
Our Native American Elder, Carmen Baraka, said we, the Intentional Creativity community, were the ones to take this action. And so we have, it was initiated after close to 8 years of exploration, on the day she walked into her future February 22, 2021.
As of right now, sunrise in California, we need 78 more signatures to get to 1500 although I know it has been shared with over 100,000 people.
Here is a very brief 3 minute video from a Native perspective:
Another action you can take, is to know whose land you stand on today: https://native-land.ca/
Musea is on Coast Miwok land, and our home is on Wappo land. When you post you can say where you are living. Thank you. Post about it. Send an email. Speak that you know the people who made this pledge, make it personal. Share it. Reach out to your Native American friends and tell them what you are doing. Text it. If you google ‘Good Relations Pledge’ from your phone, it will come up on www.Change.org. You can share from your phone easily with that link and it pulls up the image. There are more thoughts on the day below by me, and by Native Voices.
Be bold. Speak the truth. Speaking the truth doesn’t mean you are shaming anyone who isn’t, that isn’t what we are about. Rather, speaking the truth actually creates a spirit of liberation flowing between individuals and groups. Find your own voice about this. Thank you for being people who care along with me. I am grateful for you today.
May this day hold many blessings for each of you. I woke up struck by the reality that Carmen and my mother Caron were both alive last year and that I spoke with them on this day a year ago, and now they are no longer here in form.
My gratitude gives way to grief, gives way to goodness, gives way to grace.
This poster was created in 2010 as a series of eight images commissioned by a women’s clinic that focused on those who were underserved, to have in the exam rooms to bring comfort and compassion to the patients. Most of the posters were in Spanish and English.
You can share this poster + a message from me here on my Artist FB Page.
Many say this day is a National Day of Mourning, which started in 1970, learn about it in my message below. Further, the story told in this 5-minute video is a potent telling of ‘Thanksgiving’ from a Native perspective.
I have a feeling of deep sorrow knowing that after hundreds of years, most of us will not be telling the true story, because we are unaware of it, or it is too hard to speak. And even if we do know the truth, are we willing to tell it to those we gather with? Or will we continue to partake of a lie that says this day commemorates friendship between Native peoples and “Newcomers”? I believe that if we will not acknowledge the truth and we are not willing to hear and acknowledge the telling of history from the perspective of the original caretakers of this land, we will have no peace here. There cannot be healing if we will not address the wound.
What is the story? A warring people invaded a land that was not their own, bringing disease and death to the original caretakers who had lived here for thousands of years. Many of the newcomers were only able to survive here through the kindness and sharing of intelligent lifeways of the Native people. Regardless of that kindness and hospitality, the invaders took over territory, massacred people, acted with deception, forced children away from their families, broke agreements, and began a 500-year war spurred on by the endless hunger of capitalism. Because of this, we have one of the world’s longest known genocides taking place right here in the United States. To this very day, Native peoples in the United States continue to be relegated to the edges, made invisible, and are denied access to the same resources and supports that other Americans benefit from. Friends do act this way towards friends. So on this day, we have a choice – will we seek out the truth, or stay complicit with the lies? I know most of us wish that this day truly was a celebration of friendship, peace, and sharing, but it is not. That ‘Thanksgiving of the Future’ hasn’t come yet. I pray it does in our lifetime. For now, it is important to listen to the stories of Native people and be willing to look beyond the surface layers.
The Native American’s who are the descendants of the survivors of this genocide, tell a very different story than what is commonly taught about ‘Thanksgiving’. Despite the establishment’s persistent efforts to silence and eliminate them, they continue on and their way of life persists. They will have their story told. Many of us are telling it today. They are here. They are strong. They are gathering in spite of all the odds against them, to reveal the truth. And the telling of the truth will lead us toward true healing.I want to invite you into the awareness that the United States is a nation at war to this day with its Indigenous people. It is happening, RIGHT NOW. Without this context, we cannot fully grasp the stark reality this holiday represents.
Thanksgiving’ is a commemoration and glorification of the persistent genocide of Native peoples. It is a silencing of Native people’s history, stories, and experiences, past and present.
Many of the Native American’s I know still celebrate ‘Thanksgiving’ and tell stories about it around the table, honoring indigenous foods. Some are asking to keep the holiday but rename it around the theme of food.
“The first “official” Day of Thanksgiving was held in 1637 when Governor John Winthrop called for a day of thanks following the massacre of more than 700 men, women and children from the Pequot Tribe. This massacre took place in Mystic, Connecticut, during the tribe’s Green Corn Festival. While tribal members slept, men from the Massachusetts Bay Colony crept into their camp. After tribal members had laid down their weapons, the colonists killed the men, burned the women and children in their dwellings and sold the rest into slavery. When they returned, Governor Winthrop called for an official day of Thanksgiving to celebrate their success. This event marks the beginning of a holocaust that lasted for centuries on this land, leading to the slaughter of millions of Indigenous peoples. This factual history contains countless acts of genocide that have continued into the modern-day. This is why Indigenous people, and many of our friends and allies, recognize this day as a National Day of Mourning. This day of mourning is not just for the tragic events of the past, it is also for the ongoing suffering that our people continue to endure.
“What most people in the U.S. know is the Thanksgiving myth, which has been so regurgitated and has saturated the U.S. landscape that there is no need to repeat the nonsense here.
Contemporary Thanksgiving is a cookie-cutter, food-based lie meant to make a very particular class and color of people feel good about peace. It’s a colonial unifier, notes Chef Nephi Craig (White Mountain Apache and Navajo). The myth, he says, programs us to think and believe that we need to accept a false story. “It’s dislocating from our identity and our truth, and we accept it, and that’s pretty damaging, I think,” he says.
And so, what you might already be feeling, is a gentle vibration beneath the veneer of plastic turkey-in-pilgrim-hat centerpieces: a growing and sincere sense that we need to stop lying about a meal that never happened. Let’s just stop regurgitating a lie that represents the whitewashing of colonization and all the forms of colonial violence that wrote the narrative of Thanksgiving.” Native News Online
We are blessed in Intentional Creativity to have learned from our Native American Elders over the past thirty years. Our beloved Carmen Baraka said this:
“I am ever grateful for the two opportunities of speaking at the United Nations on behalf of Indigenous women and girls. I actually feel that it made a difference – it shifted the Energy. We celebrate Thanksgiving because once again it’s an energy of family coming together, but what we also do is have plates for our ancestors and do prayers. We look at it as a remembrance that we are still here and we honor those who suffered greatly for us to be here.”
Here’s more from Sean Sherman, the founder and CEO of The Sioux Chef and the author of The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen, which won the 2018 James Beard Award for best American cookbook. We have the book and love his work. In his article in TIME, he says this about the story.
“It was the Wampanoag in 1621 who helped the first wave of Puritans arriving on our shores, showing them how to plant crops, forage for wild foods and basically survive. The first official mention of a “Thanksgiving” celebration occurs in 1637, after the colonists brutally massacre an entire Pequot village, then subsequently celebrate their barbaric victory. Years later, President Washington first tried to start a holiday of Thanksgiving in 1789, but this has nothing to do with “Indians and settlers, instead it’s intended to be a public day of “thanksgiving and prayer.” (That the phrase “Merciless Savage Indians” is written into the Declaration of Independence says everything we need to know about how the founders of America viewed the Indigenous Peoples of this land.) It wasn’t until the writer Sarah Josepha Hale persuaded President Lincoln that the Thanksgiving holiday was needed and could help heal the divided nation that it was made official in 1863. But even that was not the story we are all taught today. The inspiration for that was far more exclusionist.”
“My great grandfather helped fight off General Custer at the Battle of Little Bighorn, alongside other Lakota and Cheyenne, not even 100 years before my birth. I think about my great grandfather’s lifetime, being born in the 1850s—toward the end of the genocides that began in the 1600s across America, and stretching into the subtler but still damaging years of assimilation efforts we have endured since. He saw escalating conflicts between Lakota life as he knew it and the ever-emerging immigrants from the east. He witnessed the disappearance of the bison, the loss of the sacred Black Hills, the many broken promises made by the U.S., along with atrocities like the Sand Creek and Wounded Knee Massacres. He saw his children attend the boarding schools where they had their hair forcibly cut and were punished for speaking their languages. I wonder what he thought about the Thanksgiving story.
But I do not wonder about this: Thanksgiving really has nothing to do with Native Americans, and everything to do with an old (but not the oldest) guard conjuring a lie of the first peoples welcoming the settlers to bolster their false authority over what makes a “real” American. (Remember, only in 1924 were Native Americans allowed to become citizens of the United States — and it took decades more for all states to permit us to vote.) It is a story of supposed unity, drained of the bloodshed, and built for the sake of division.”
The children were forced into boarding schools – just look at this image – removed from their families, if there was family left. It is heartbreaking.
Dear Ones, I am sure I will get something wrong in this letter, or that there may have been something I could have done better or spoken more clearly about. I am doing what I can do. What I feel is that NOT telling the true story continues to uphold the White Supremacy framework that I, and many in this community, wish to challenge and heal from at this time.
Today my invitation is to consider making an effort to decolonize your ‘Thanksgiving’. Many of us in the United States, including me, feel that the myths that underpin the Thanksgiving holiday MUST be addressed and uncovered. There is great harm perpetuated by these myths which negatively impact and disregard the history and lived experiences of Native American peoples.
We can be a part of the healing that needs to take place by learning about the true history of ‘Thanksgiving’ and choosing to honor Indigenous people during this time instead. Whether you are from the United States or not, we can all support Native American peoples by acknowledging their history and the ways the United States government and institutions have been lying about it for a very long time. It is very devastating to EVERYONE but mostly to the original caretakers of this land.
I know you will do what is right for you, and still, I feel a need to speak the story. This year has been a great challenge for those of us who are responsible for speaking to and guiding a community. Between the countless continued impacts of the C-19 Era, the Social Justice uprisings, calls for a renewed focus on Civil Rights, the increased violence toward women, the loss of jobs and small businesses, the continued attacks on Indigenous land and sovereignty, and the accumulated stress from all of this – it can be overwhelming. It is challenging to continue to find the right words to communicate about the ways this is impacting us all. Even if I know where I stand, shaping it coherently and clearly takes time and a lot of love.
Today, Musea’s dedication to consciousness-raising continues through addressing the Thanksgiving Myth.
If you are having a Thanksgiving anything, and if you are White or European, I invite you to learn about and tell a more accurate ‘Thanksgiving’ story that honors and brings dignity to the Indigenous peoples and original caretakers of this land – the land that you now live upon and on which you gather around your feast table. Today if you are a Woman of Color from any culture, except Native American, I invite you to learn about and tell the true ‘Thanksgiving’ story, as told by the Indigenous people of the United States, formerly known as a part of Turtle Island.
Thanksgiving is a myth and one that glorifies the death and oppression of Native American peoples. Let’s know the truth and be grateful for it.
A few things you can consider now
- Sign the Good Relations Pledge and Share it
- Find a good source for the true story and tell it at your intimate gatherings.
- Have a Red Thread circle over zoom with your family and tell them why this change matters.
- Some are boycotting ‘Thanksgiving’ altogether and will be in prayer for healing.
- Make a donation to an Indigenous foundation.
- Identify the original peoples where you live, and honor them, say the name of their tribe. Learn if any of them are still in your area. Know this information over time.
- Join the National Day of Mourning. Share about the National Day of Mourning. Mourn yourself. Feel this.
- Go outside, touch the earth, and connect with something more true than perhaps the past has brought.
This list is not exhaustive in any way. Together we can continue to be informed and make changes within the culture of Intentional Creativity to be as empowered, inclusive, informed and inspired as we can be as we move together towards revolution within and evolution without in our sweet world. Together we are learning and growing in ‘curating consciousness”.
The pain of what we have done and continue to do in the U.S. is one of the essential life threads in my work. You may not always see it directly, but behind everything is an unreasonable desire to end suffering.
Truly acknowledging the suffering and being fully present to it, brings cleansing and peace and deeper compassion to all of our lives. We all benefit from a more true truth even if it is work to find it.
May love be at the center,
Recently I visited one of the Fine Arts Museums in San Francisco and was so happy to see this acknowledgment.