A Different Kind of Thanksgiving
Every year I learn a little something new about American History. The past couple years, around Thanksgiving, I have learned more and more about the Untold Story of Thanksgiving, and recognized the need to adjust our traditions to better align with our new understanding.
I have always been fascinated and drawn to the beautiful lives and culture of the different American Indian tribes throughout the country. Growing up in Utah, I visited many historic Native American sites, and camped within the Havasupai reservation as a teenager. My dad, who was born in New Mexico, introduced us to Fry Bread and “Navajo Tacos“, both of which I loved, and both of which I understand now to be a tradition born of the oppression and relocation of the American Indians away from their lands.
Wrestling with the dark pieces of the past often leaves me wondering what now? How can I turn my knowledge into some sort of meaningful action? One very simple idea I’ve had is to dig in to the history before America was America– to learn more about the Native Americans who lived where I now live, and still maintain their own traditions, cultures, and values.
Last year, emboldened by a desire to not only learn, but celebrate the tribes of Virginia, we decided to gather some Native American recipes (Powhatan, Algonquian, and Pamunkey, Chickahominy, among others). Through internet searches, library visits, and sticking to some local, native produce, we came up with a Native American Feast.
Menu for our Native American Feast
Loosely based on the Eastern United States, which includes the seafood. Where possible, I tried to source the food itself for this meal from local farms and markets.
Roasted Winter Squash with Maple Syrup (history)
Beyond The Table
Of course, the cooking and eating was really great. Beyond the new, delicious foods we tried, all of us were left with a lasting impression of the importance to learn and celebrate the American Indians. This year, we will be recreating some favorite recipes from last year, as well as learning more about the tribes in our area, visiting the nearby Pamunkey Reservation, and donating to the Navajo Water Project.
We also have added some favorite books by Native American Authors, celebrating the culture to our library including Fry Bread, We Are Grateful, and How Things Came To Be.
I hope this post gives you some inspiration to try your own Native American Feast, or even just add one or two of the recipes to your own Thanksgiving gathering this year. It is a delightful way to add a level of intuition to our harvest celebrations.