Thanksgiving’s True History:
Happy Thanksgiving! We are grateful to spend time with many exceptional children, families, and teachers. It is a privilege and an honor to watch every student grow, learn, create, and dream big about their futures. As you and your loved ones reflect on everything this year, we hope your hearts fill with thanksgiving.
During this week, it’s also important to remind ourselves that while many Americans celebrate Thanksgiving with joy, this holiday can be a painful reminder of past and current oppression for Native Americans. The whitewashing of the true Thanksgiving – a peaceful celebration between pilgrims and Indigenous peoples – marginalizes the long, violent conflict between white settlers and Native Americans. A cruel history of genocides, slavery, fatal diseases, and oppression is compounded by the continual perpetuation of harmful myths and whitewashing that many schools teach children about Native peoples.
To incorporate diverse cultures and experiences into children’s learning curriculum, Launch teachers share the beauty of Indigenous culture. Teachers have a vital role in dismantling the perpetuated stereotype of Native Americans, reshaping the false myths children learn about Native American history, and uplifting the diverse perspectives of Indigenous peoples.
At Launch, we have partnered with the Nature Vision Science Program to teach the use of native plants by First Peoples; share Coast Salish Sea Orca lifestyles with the older grades. We also partnered with the National Park Service Traveling Trunks Program to learn about the cultures of Clatsop and Chinookan, the original peoples.
Launch acknowledges that we are on the traditional land of the Coast Salish People, specifically the first people of Seattle, the Duwamish People past and present, and honor with gratitude the land itself and the Duwamish. We strongly believe Native cultures should be taught year-round, not just around Thanksgiving. We are committed to incorporating Indigenous culture, teachings, and stories into our curriculum. Launch works to fight the stereotypes about Indigenous people that are common in our education system, mainstream media, and popular culture.
Below are resources about the true history of Thanksgiving, suggestions for talking about it with children of all ages in an age-appropriate way, information about how Launch talks about Thanksgiving in our programs, and links to great Thanksgiving children’s books. Also below are year-round resources about Native cultures that highlight a broad range of Native American lived experiences and the past and ongoing contributions of Native peoples.
Dr. Angela Griffin, CEO