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A farmer's thoughts on Thanksgiving

November 19, 2021 Yadira Ruiz

The gesture and act of giving thanks feels sacred to me. In giving thanks we recognize a person or thing. In doing so, we create a connection between the two, an acknowlegment of each other. Growing up, I learned that Thanksgiving was about pilgrims and indigenous peoples sharing work and celebrating the bounty that it brought together. As an adult, I see now that it's another example of erasure. It's another example of the ugly truth, this land that we live on, was taken in brutality from others. I know, it's difficult to face the suffering caused in the past but if we don't acknowledge it, we will continue to cause it.  I worry we are actively teaching our children to ignore the consequence which then dooms us to repeat and cause further suffering. For adults, it's heavy to walk around carrying this burden with us as we enjoy our lattes, drive our cars, meet friends for drinks, etc but the fact that it's an option for us to dwell on this is a burden to me, all on its own. The indigenous people of this country (and others) don't have that option, they live in that reality every day. We cannot undo what has been done but if we don't make an effort to recognize it, acknowledge it and honor it, we cannot claim innocence. 

In this area,we exist on and are surrounded by the lands of the Alse, Yakina, Siletz, Luckiamute, Santiam, Chepenefa, Chemapho and Tsankupi. These people are not a thing of the past, let us connect with them, acknowledge them and recognize that without their suffering, we would not be here.

***

An Invocation for Giving Thanks

Let us not erase the past

Let us gather and honor the suffering that brought us to be

Let us evolve our understanding of our history so that the future is something

everyone can look forward to

We can give thanks for all these things

Our transgressions can walk hand in hand with our hope

In doing so, our wholeness will carry us forward.

***

I wrote the invocation this morning after being woken by the bright moonlight at 5am, having some coffee and writing some thank you cards for the Fill Your Pantry event. My pen moved swiftly from my thank you cards to a scratch piece of paper nearby and the invocation popped out. I sat down at my computer to share it with you and after writing a paragraph, I realized that while I have indigenous blood, my people are from other lands. So I went on a search online to read articles by indigenous people and was further insprired by the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address Greetings to the Natural World and by this article on Nativehope.org. As you reflect on your own thoughts and feelings about Thanksgiving, I invite you to learn more by clicking on the links and having conversations at your table that honor our gifts and burdens.



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