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A Different Perspective on Thanksgiving Origin Myths

Last Updated on November 30, 2021

At ButcherBox, our fall efforts are mainly focused on promoting Thanksgiving and selling turkeys. And because we’re continually trying to address issues of systemic racism and the ways it bumps up against our business, we also want to acknowledge the disconnect between the traditions many Americans share and the experience of Native people around the fall harvest holidays. 

Thanksgiving is the most widely celebrated holiday in the United States, a day that focuses on family, friends, and gratitude. But its origin story has been buried under decades of myths that fail to address the true origins of the day—namely, the beginnings of colonization that devastated Native American societies across the country.  For many Native Americans, Thanksgiving is not a day of celebration.

We wanted to share some resources developed by Indigenous people and organizations for anyone looking to deepen their understanding of the Native perspective on Thanksgiving, and hear from Indigenous people discussing what Thanksgiving means for them and their communities.  


Learn More About Native Perspectives on Thanksgiving

All My Relations: This podcast is hosted by two indigenous women, Matika Wilbur and Desi Small Rodriguez, and focuses on relationships—with each other, the land, and the world around us. Listen to the episode, “Thanks-giving or Thanks-taking” for an understanding of the real history of Thanksgiving from a Native perspective.   

Toasted Sister: A podcast hosted by Navajo audio journalist Andi Murphy. The show is about all things indigenous foods, and The Thanksgiving Episode talks with three Wampanoag women about their perspectives on the holiday.   

The Invention of Thanksgiving: This essay by Harvard historian Philip Deloria, who is of Dakota descent, unravels many of the myths surrounding early meetings of the English Pilgrims and members of the Wampanoag tribe.  

This article interviews three Native American chefs on what Thanksgiving means to them.  


For further reading, listening, and watching, this list of resources from the I-Collective, a group of Indigenous chefs and activists seeking to create a new narrative of historic Native contributions to our culture, is a great place to start. The I-Collective also recently launched their first multimedia cookbook and community journal, called Gathering Basket, available for purchase on their site. 


Dennis Keohane is the Editorial Director for ButcherBox.