Thursday, November 24, 2016

Unsettled

I unwittingly enhanced one settler colonial festivity with another - making sticky date pudding (which I learned about in Australia) for American Thanksgiving at my friend L's house. I remember trying to explain Thanksgiving to a then wee Australian nephew a decade ago, a story of generous Native American hosts feeding hapless Pilgrims, symbolizing the need for gratitude to others. Fine for a three year old.

What would one tell now? The pretense that the people whose descendants think they are white arrived on these shores without tragically upending what they found has to be rejected (especially in a time when the words "white America" strike too many as a manifest destiny, not a history-denying oxymoron). I might try to include the Onondaga Thanksgiving Address (literally: Words That Come Before All Else) described in Braiding Sweetgrass (107f), a tribute to the natural sources of our being, each of which has a job in sustaining the life of all around and performs it graciously. From gratitude to responsibility: humans have a job too, a responsibility to learn the language of this land so they can do their part. To be native to a place we must learn to speak its language. (48) This goes for human as well as natural history.

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