The day after Thanksgiving is “Native American Heritage Day,” since 2008 by law (as poetic injustice? irony? Where was law from 1606 to 2008?)
I think it might be presumptuous and maybe tone-deaf to wish anyone a “Happy Native American Heritage Day” today, but I’ll invite members of the Native community to share their thoughts.
To be honest, when I think “Black Friday,” I think of what happened after the myth of Plymouth, the 1621 feast followed by famine and removal of indigenous peoples. And as we drive around today for all our packages, let’s reflect how today’s crazed commercialist “Black Friday” is a very American re-packaging of the capitalist/commercialist legacy after what Thanksgiving Thursday also re-packaged.
And do we even pause on the irony of calling today “Black Friday” when the same legacy after the Plymouth myth of 1621 was so soon after 1619, the arrival of two dozen Africans in Viriginia on the English ship “White Lion”? (How is that for on-the-nose color coding?)
We should be thankful every last Thursday of November.
The day after, I acknowledge as an American, whose ancestors were lucky enough to make it out of Eastern Europe alive, and whose wife’s family fled Nazi Germany to eventually settle in Canada, that we have the luck and privilege to live on stolen land that we inherited by theft, murder, and colonialism.
And that great privilege comes with great responsibility.
That privilege and responsibility is before the Supreme Court this term in Haaland v. Brackeen and the integrity of the Native American family.
This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for the courageous Nikole Hannah-Jones and her team, and I am thankful for the many Native American scholars who are writing and speaking truth, such as Maggie Blackhawk (NYU Law), who is writing the influential Foreword to this year’s Harvard Law Review, and Elizabeth Hidalgo Reese (Yunpovi) (Stanford Law), who published “The Other American Law” in the Stanford Law Review last year and recently gave this powerful interview on a Slate podcast about the Supreme Court case and the Indian Child Welfare Act.
Make Reparations. Respect Sovereignty. Respect the Native American family.