• March 2nd, 2024
  • Saturday, 03:58:07 AM

Thankstaking? Let’s say Truthsgiving

Chase Iron Eyes


Chase Iron Eyes


It’s that time of year again. Thanksgiving is upon us. I encourage you to read a piece I wrote for The Nation magazine and watch my segment on CNN arguing that we should scrap this holiday and replace it with “Truthsgiving.” This is not, perhaps, an entirely novel idea. We’ve tried it before — a popular rebranding of Thanksgiving as “Thankstaking,” communicating that there should be no pride in genocide. But this year I am committing to the concept of Truthsgiving, which I feel better embodies the right spirit of generous sharing and listening.


Here’s some truth: gathered around our tables, we still eat turkey, corn, beans, squash, cranberries, and mashed potatoes. All these are Indigenous foods. In fact, 60 percent of all the food consumed by the human species has been created by Indigenous nations. Please understand that (despite the headline in The Nation), I am not trying to cancel Thanksgiving — for we give thanks every day!


Our celebrations, however, should also honor real history. We must tell the truth. The truth is a fire that burns all lies in its way. It is no secret that colonial project countries (e.g. the USA, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand) have hidden important truths from us. It’s no surprise settlers like Governor Kristi Noem fight so hard to hide historical facts from students taught in South Dakota schools. How fragile the American settler identity is that it cannot abide teaching the truth. But until the truth is shared, there can be no justice. And if there is no justice, then peace is beyond our reach.


We have to tell the hard truths, painful as they may sometimes be. We must recognize that genocide is not a “dark chapter in our nation’s history,” but that it’s still imposed on tribal nations in the present. The first Americans are still denied real nationhood. In all ways “legal,” political, and economic, Indigenous nations across Turtle Island and around the globe remain captive to outdated institutional systems carrying out the centuries old Doctrine of Christian “Discovery.”


Let us, then, meet each other where we stand today. We don’t have to turn back the clock, but we must be truthful with each other in the here and now. It’s our mandate — as Native and allied activists — to reinvigorate the quest for truth. We have to show up and reorganize the very symbols of our culture and our shared identity. Like Columbus Day, Thanksgiving is one of these symbols, one of those rituals, a place where worldviews collide. That’s not a bad thing. Let us use these collisions to move forward, knowing in our hearts that we are all in a conscious evolution together.


Our desire to share both the giving of thanks and the telling of truth is one reason we initiated our live-streamed Wopila (Gratitude) Gathering every year around Truthsgiving. Please RSVP now to join us online on Giving Tuesday, Nov. 28, and spread the word about this annual event to honor, inspire, and activate. The citizens of the Lakota Nation conduct wopila ceremonies to give back as a practice of gratitude, and this is our way of bringing you into the circle.


Wopila tanka — my gratitude for your investment in truth!



Chase Iron Eyes is the Director and Lead Counsel of The Lakota People’s Law Project.