Thanksgiving is a widely celebrated holiday for many families in the United States, but sometimes we fail to acknowledge the other side of the holiday. A college library in Massachusetts, McQuade Library at Merrimack College, sought to enlighten its audiences about “decolonizing” the holiday through a social media post.
On that post, the college library shared an article by Professor Lindsey Passenger Wieck, a professor at St. Mary University. The article, with the title Decolonizing Thanksgiving: A Toolkit for Combating Racism in Schools, covered what she considered to be problematic classroom activities involving the holiday.
As an alternative, the article provided sample letters and other children’s books parents can send to their kids’ schools. There was also a list of resources that teach families and educators how to be more socially responsible on Thanksgiving.
Everything about the article encouraged taking a decolonizing approach to the holiday. It also aims to teach families and teachers to reject the harmful stereotypes about Native Americans, which are often associated with common Thanksgiving school activities.
McQuade Library supported this post using hashtags like #DecolonizingThanksgiving, #ChildrensEducation, #Thanksgiving, #AntiRacism, and #NationalDayofMourning. However, Jim Chiavelli, Merrimack College’s spokesman, called out the #NationalDayofMourning tag and had it removed from the post.
Chiavelli says the phrase was inappropriate and that it didn’t reflect the college’s position. He added that they held a staff meeting shortly after to reaffirm social media protocols.
According to the United American Indians of New England, the National Day of Mourning is a protest against oppression and racism. They further added that several Native American’s don’t celebrate the day Pilgrims and European settlers arrived in their native lands.
While Thanksgiving is a holiday many Americans look forward to, it only reminds Native Americans of the genocide, theft, and assault on the Native culture that happened on that day.