Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Thanksgiving Question

Somehow I don't think it was this idyllic...
Turkeys have started springing up everywhere. The library feature shelf was crowded with books of pilgrims and Indians. We have started thinking about Pie.

This is the first year that Brother-Bug has been aware enough for The Indian Question to come up. He checked out books about Thanksgiving yesterday, and there were the pilgrims and Indians sharing nicely.

I want him to learn the real history of the white occupation of this continent, but most of that information is just not okay for a five-year old. I find the real story to be sickening and disgusting and tragic and scary - and I'm a grown up! But at the same time, I don't want to whitewash over that stuff, painting a picture of sharing and tranquilly companionable pilgrims and their "guests". That feels untrue and more than a little disrespectful to the native people involved. I want to find a balance between the nice and safe, and the true and gritty.

I'm just not sure of where that balance is.


  1. We just informed brother older about the real story of "Thanksgiving" and he's 11 years old and we're Native American.
    It's all a matter of what balance is for the child you are talking with.
    Both of our boys are very sensitive and passionate, yet one is inward and the other outward in personality.

    I chose to wait because I felt that, and still feel,I wanted them to know that we celebrate in remembrance of our ancestors and to be thankful of our life now. Also because we try to stay away from violence in general and because of the complexity of adult reasoning, etc.

    When brother older was younger, about your brother bug's age, we talked about the pilgrims "making really bad choices that hurt the Native Americans." And that, "there are a lot of other complicated feelings that go along with it but we now celebrate in remembrance and to be thankful for now." went something like that.

    We can remember our European ancestors as well and discuss some of the basis for the bad choices. It is important to remember ones mistakes and bad choices to learn from and grow.

    Like, judging others can hurt peoples feelings and our own feelings. Like, when we get mad and we feel we want to hurt someone or something we have the choice to use that feeling differently.

    There is much opportunity here for role play and such in a mellow version of Thanksgiving.

  2. Thanks! You were on my radar as someone who might have good ideas about this.