National Native American Heritage Month

Native American Heritage Month and Thanksgiving

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Complicated Origins

As we learn more about our nation’s complicated history, there can be a range of emotions. Many people find joy in celebrating the folklore and stories of togetherness and peace between Native American people and the Pilgrims who emigrated here.

It can be hard to reconcile a holiday about gratitude with thoughts of what followed. For some people with Native American heritage it can evoke feelings of historical trauma.

Approaching Thanksgiving Through Reflection

So what do we do? As vocational rehabilitation counselors, cultural sensitivity is of utmost importance when helping someone of a culture different to our own. Since we are always challenging ourselves to grow, we can be grateful for a chance to reflect on how events in the past could lead to unrealized biases or assumptions today.

Ways to Celebrate Mindfully

Gratitude is an especially important attribute to celebrate. Sean Sherman – founder and CEO of the Sioux Chef – shares how he and his family have reimagined Thanksgiving. Recognizing that the food we eat to celebrate are Native American in origin.

People may not realize it, but what every person in this country shares, and the very history of this nation, has been in front of us the whole time. Most of our Thanksgiving recipes are made with indigenous foods: turkey, corn, beans, pumpkins, maple, wild rice and the like. We should embrace this.

He encourages readers to explore a deeper connection to “American” foods by learning about actual Native-American histories, about foods that are local to the regions where we live, and by supporting Native American growers. This cookbook features Native American (Oneida) recipes you can use for Thanksgiving – and for honoring Native American culture throughout the year.


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