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Radical Thanksgiving: Do Something for Someone Else

November 21, 2008, 1:32 pm

It’s always hard to know how to celebrate Thanksgiving, particularly if traditional romances about the family don’t really speak to you (a frequent problem for queer people.) It’s even more complicated if you are also a Radical historian who is well aware that the first Thanksgiving in 1621, treasured in our national culture, was more or less the beginning of the end for the Wampanoags who were the primary native participants in the event. Already beginning to suffer from European diseases in 1621, by 1676 and the end of Metacom’s war, the Wampanoags were scattered, exiled, dead, sold into slavery or had melted into the general population to try to protect themselves. Contemporary groups of Wampanoags have reconstituted themselves and regained small amounts of tribal land, most prominently in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.

So Happy Thanksgiving! How shall we celebrate?

As I get older and fatter, and as I become more aware that many people in Shoreline are having trouble putting any of their meals on the table, eating myself sick – the other happy Thanksgiving romance — has become increasingly unappealing too.
However, although I obviously don’t have a lot of sentiment about clan-gathering moments, I have had a lot of nice Thanksgivings with various clans, who are actual and fictive kin of mine. This year, since N is off to spend Thanksgiving and about three other weeks doing some interesting work in a dictatorship far, far away, I have had a number of kind invitations, despite my bah-humbug approach to the holiday. I have selected dinner with my work family from the Castle, the Zenith building from whence all things Radical emanate. And lest you think I am being overcome by sentiment despite myself, I want to add this information: these are people who really know how to cook.

But here’s another way to celebrate Thanksgiving: help someone else. The someone in need I offer to you, only because I have been alerted by fellow blogger Plains Feminist is Native American Activist Winona LaDuke (Anishinaabeg nation.) A writer and longtime political activist, LaDuke is the Executive director of Honor the Earth and the White Earth Land Recovery Project, two indigenous environmental activism groups.

But like many activists, LaDuke operates on a pretty thin margin, so needless to say, the destruction of her house by fire on November 9 has been devastating; in addition to her extended family’s clothes and household possessions, LaDuke lost her library and art collection. To find out how to be part of rebuilding LaDuke’s material life, go to this post by Plains Feminist.

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