A Native Perspective on Thanksgiving


Rachel Schultz.

Danielle Broege, Staff Reporter

Over the past few decades, controversy has begun to surround the holiday of Thanksgiving due to its origins and implications regarding Native American history. Though sometimes a difficult conversation, hearing an informed stance on whether or not Thanksgiving is disrespectful can help us better develop our own.

Rachel Schultz, CLC alumni and a former editor of the Chronicle, is a part of the Tuscarora Tribe. In an interview, Schultz discussed how Thanksgiving is not disrespectful in her eyes and is actually something she and her family celebrate together.

“Obviously there’s a popular version of history, but that version changes as more facts are added. More people are aware of the facts and the Native American history that’s missing from textbooks. As that gets added, we can acknowledge the bad things that people did while still being thankful to God, especially Native Americans’ view of the creator. He’s not going to wipe you out if you make one mistake,” Schultz said.

The Iroquois Confederacy, a nation of six different tribes joined under one name, created a prayer known as the Thanksgiving address in the 1990s. Its purpose is to thank God for all of his creation and is read to open and close every social and religious meeting. 

“Thanksgiving is a way of life for Native Americans,” said Schultz, which is evident through the Thanksgiving address. The seventh generation principle is an ancient Iroquois philosophy stating that the decisions made in this time should result in a sustainable future seven generations in the future. This principle is a way of showing gratitude for the current world, and is an extension of the Native American way of life, according to Schultz.

 “Thanksgiving should be a state of mind, all year round, not just one day out of the year. It’s supposed to be a time to give thanks to God and have your family around you,” Schultz said. Whether Thanksgiving is a time to make memories with family or to just enjoy the simple pleasures in life, it is a holiday that anyone can celebrate, regardless of their heritage.

“We always made a turkey and the stuffing, mashed potatoes, and the traditional dishes like cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. We would always try to invite people who didn’t have a family to share Thanksgiving with,” Schultz said.

Thanksgiving is a time for everyone to show gratitude for what they have. People will always have their own views on whether or not Thanksgiving is disrespectful, but hearing an informed viewpoint from a member of the Tuscarora tribe may help form new and nuanced opinions.