Thanksgiving is a holiday that most associate with food. For native peoples, Thanksgiving is not a holiday that takes place once each year; it’s a way of life.
The Thanksgiving Address is an address that acknowledges all of the creations on mother earth. Each creation has a job and only by working in unison with one another will we be able to survive. A translated passage from the Thanksgiving Address-Greetings to the Natural World, produced by the Native Self–Sufficiency Center, says, “We turn to honor and thank all the Food Plants we harvest from the Garden. Since the beginning of time, the grains, vegetables, beans and berries have helped the people survive. Many other living things draw strength from them too.”
Autumn is filled with an appreciative feeling, for this is when our crops ripen. It is a time for giving thanks for the growing season’s harvest. All of the foods that were planted and tended to over the spring and summer, with gratitude and love, have been harvested and will be preserved for later use over the winter.
While the women busy themselves with canning recently harvested foods, the men take to the woods to hunt for meat. After a successful hunt, it is customary to thank the spiritual being for giving up its life in order to provide nourishment.
This action of showing gratitude for life giving gifts is the root of Native thinking and the premise behind the tradition of the Thanksgiving holiday.
About the author:
Nicole is a museum attendant and tour guide at the Ska-non – Great Law of Peace Center and is a member of the Onondaga Beaver Clan. She will continue to contribute to our website, offering a unique perspective to Onondaga and Haudenosuanne culture, history, and values.