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Indianapolis woman offers Native American perspective on Thanksgiving

Posted at 10:36 PM, Nov 22, 2018

INDIANAPOLIS — An Indianapolis woman is challenging the traditional narrative of Thanksgiving after RTV6 reached out for a Native American perspective on the holiday.

Thanksgiving has been celebrated across the United States since 1863. It is a day that holds a much different significance for Native Americans than the story that is often taught to youngsters in school.

In the traditional story the pilgrims come over, the Native Americans helped them and there was this kind of kumbaya moment.

"There's not one Native American perspective on Thanksgiving," Carolina Castoreno-Santana said. 

Castoreno-Santana is the executive director of the American Indian Center of Indiana. The organization provides job and wellness assistance to more than 50,000 native people representing 65 tribes in Indiana.

LEARN MORE | Visit the American Indian Center of Indiana

"We advocate for decolonizing, understanding who we are as a people prior to colonization and prior to western European influence," she said.

The origins of Thanksgiving have a much more sinister tone than what many learn in school.

"It has to do with the pilgrims in the east celebrating and giving thanks for being able to defeat and massacre the Pequot Indians," Castoreno-Santana said. "We're literally celebrating the death of a tribe, the massacre of a tribe."

Castoreno-Santana said her family has a meal on Thanksgiving, but before they do, they talk about issues that are going on in the community and across Indian Country nationwide.

"What is more American than a Native American so why can't our teachings and our history be as valid as the other side," she said.


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