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mazingerz88's avatar

Do American Indians celebrate Thanksgiving?

Asked by mazingerz88 (18507 points ) November 24th, 2011

Wondering. : )

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23 Answers

MilkyWay's avatar

There aren’t much of them around to celebrate it even if they did.

john65pennington's avatar

Seems to me that I have seen past paintings of American Indians holding a turkey at Thanksgiving. I will investigate further.

Good question.

john65pennington's avatar

Wampanoag Indians in 1621 were invited to celebrate Thanksgiving with the new colonies. 60 warriors showed with venison, fish and fowl to celebrate.

That was then, but today the American Indian has lost most of its interest, due to educational falldowns.

wilma's avatar

The Native Americans that I know do.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

They spend the day wishing for better immigration laws.

YARNLADY's avatar

I do, but I have heard that some (especially the full bloods) are very racist, and still complaining. Most are Christian, and celebrate Christian holidays.

TheIntern55's avatar

They probaly loved Thanksgiving until we took their land from them and forced them into reservations.
I know that the 2 large casinos near me haven’t really encouraged Thanksgiving and they’re owned by Indians on their reservations.

Linda_Owl's avatar

I wonder, @YARNLADY , if you think that ‘full blood’ Native Americans distrust of white Americans is what you see as them being racist? After all, the early European settlers did their best to wipe out the Native Americans & our government broke every treaty that was ever made with them. Then when they had been made supplicants in what had been their own country, our government took their children away from them & put them in boarding schools & forbade the teaching of each tribes legends & languages. When you think about it, most of the few remaining Native Americans have no reason to trust us or to like us. To me this is not racist, it comes down to them applying what they know of our motives. They certainly have no reason to celebrate our holidays.

JLeslie's avatar

@Linda_Owl I’m not sure you realize that @YARNLADY is Native American.

@YARNLADY I was wondering why you bring up they are Christians when Thanksgiving is a secular holiday?

YARNLADY's avatar

@Linda_Owl @JLeslie My point is that most Native Americans have fully assimilated, we are Americans, Christians (and maybe other modern religions as well) and Celebrate Holidays just the same as other.

@Linda_Owl I have encountered some full-blood Indians who are definitely racist. On their chat sites, which I was part of for awhile, they talk about how they would do the same that was done to them 150 years ago.

The majority of the Choctaw Nation members are nothing like that, but are simply Americans who take pride in our ancient culture, and strive to keep it alive.

iphigeneia's avatar

A Native American friend of mine does not. To quote her facebook status, it is a “fake colonist holiday”.

mazingerz88's avatar

So is this a case of a tradition where its original meaning clearly got overridden, re-invented to a point where it became a new one entirely?

snowberry's avatar

@Jleslie Regarding whether Thanksgiving is religious or not, it definitely started out as a religious holiday. The colonists who were Puritans and held Christian beliefs gave thanks to God! This is where the name comes from. I have been to many Thanksgiving services in churches. If you are religious, it certainly could be considered a religoius holiday. If you aren’t, it’s secular. It’s much like celebrating Christmas is today.

JLeslie's avatar

@snowberry The way I learned it, Thanksgiving was in celebration of the harvest. Even the Native Americans, who I would guess did not believe in God, celebrated the harvest, and I Thanksgiving is supposed to mark the day they celebrated together. The Puritans may have thanked God, but that was because they were Puritans I would think. But, I could be wrong about all that, history is not my best subject. It certainly is not a biblical holiday. Not that all religious holidays are biblical holidays. I mean if I watch the music awards it seems like that could be a religious day of giving thanks with how many artists give credit and thanks to God for their awards.

Christmas to me is not a secular holiday. I know some people think it is, but CHRISTmas is hard for me to consider secular. Although, I do agree there are a lot of secular traditions surrounding the holiday now. I guess since Christmas was chosen to be celebrated during the pagan holiday Yule, maybe it being considered secular makes sense. The fact is though, that a large majorityof non-Christians do not celebrate Christmas in their homes, even if they do celebrate with friends and family who do. I don’t have any Christmas in my house, unless it happens my husband’s Catholic family is visiting during that time of year.

I guess many holidays can be argued either way.

I think every American of every religion would see no conflict celebrating Thanksgiving, except maybe those who do not celebrate any holidays.

snowberry's avatar

@JLeslie Here’s a link to the first Thanksgiving Proclamation on June 20, 1676. It’s too long to print here, but there are many references to giving thanks to God, etc. http://www.law.ou.edu/ushistory/thanksgiv.shtml

Thanksgiving first became a national holiday when Lincoln declared it to be so, with a similar reference to giving thanks to God. Here’s an excerpt from Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Day Proclamation. “It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people; I do, therefore, invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer to our beneficent Father, who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that, while offering up the ascriptions justly due to him that, for such singular deliverances and blessings; they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.”
http://www.classicallibrary.org/lincoln/thanksgiving.htm

JLeslie's avatar

@snowberry My point though is Christians are always thanking God for everything. Theists in general do. Plus, part of it is writing or talking style. I know very religious people who inject words like God, blessed, and giving thanks in every conversation they have, and other religious people who don’t. Depends somewhat on the community they live in, what is customary, and it has varied over the centuries also.

If tomorrow a American Muslim in America acheived some sort of fantastic accomplishment that gave America great prosperity, or safety, or health, and he thanked God, and an American President chose to seal the celebration with a national holiday for years to come, we would not see it as a religious, Muslim, day. Religious holidays develop either because of the bible, or because religious scholars decide it is a celebrations day, or because people from that faith over many years create it as a traditional religious holiday. What you are describing doesn’t quite cut it for me as a religious holiday.

JLeslie's avatar

@snowberry I was just watching Burt Wolf’s Thanksgiving episode, and he opened with Thanksgiving typically having a prayer of thanks, but that the holiday was always political or secular.

mazingerz88's avatar

@JLeslie and @snowberry Wow, I just read that link on the first Thanksgiving Proclamation and it is a declaration of appreciation by the faithful. Through God’s mercy, they have fought the enemy in war, the heathens. I wonder if that is what’s in the minds of most of present day Thanksgiving revelers.

Maybe this American celebration needs a fresh clarification as to its original intent compared with unofficial revisionist interpretations down the ages? Or maybe it just should not matter?

snowberry's avatar

@JLeslie. Yup. That’s what we people who believe in God do. We pray to God, we thank God, we talk about God and all that sort of stuff. It’s how this particular holiday started, and what it was for. It’s not totally that way today, as you so elequently put it. There is also plenty of room to be thankful and to thank those who have worked so hard to provide the things we need.

I have some close Muslim friends from the Middle East (Yemen). If I were to tell them about how the first Thanksgiving came about, I think they’d be fine with it, for they have discovered that they have been lied to about much of Christianity. They agree with me about most things concerning lifestyle and behavior and even consider me part of their family, even though as I understand it, I am an “infidel”. The next time I see them, I’ll ask them what they think and if they’d ever consider celebrating a Thanksgiving, and see what they say. I’ll ask them if they would thank God along with me. I’ll let you know what they say

@mazinger88 I agree with you, but I suspect there would be many like @JLeslie who would insist it’s a secular holdiay regardless of any evidence you provide to the contrary.

I also think most Indians back then believed in some sort of higher power, and anyone who did is likely to have had no problem with giving thanks to their god or God for what they have. Indians today are much like people anywhere. Some believe in God, some don’t. Some celebrate T-day and some don’t, but I don’t know for sure.

Blessings to you both! ; D

JLeslie's avatar

@snowberry I am sure the religious Muslim would thank God too, you don’t have to ask your friend, that is not the point. Everything is religious if we rely on the religious people to decide, because everything is from God according to them. I know many many religious people who do not inject God into every part of their speech with others.

You said The colonists who were Puritans and held Christian beliefs gave thanks to God, I was thinking you see it as a Christian holiday, but maybe you are ok with it just being a religious holiday? I don’t know any religious holidays that don’t credit a certain religion though. The Christians don’t celebrate Muslim holidays, even if the Muslim oliday is just a celebration of thanking God. So, what I was saying was if Muslims in America had thanked God for the harvest and the other reasons we have thanksgiving, would you be ok with celebrating a Muslim holiday?

Not to mention that most Christians give thanks before every meal.

snowberry's avatar

@JLeslie, Thanksgiving is both a national holiday, and a religious holiday for those who choose to celebrate it. Nobody’s twisting anyone’s arm to pray on Thanksgiving, but a president DID reserve that day for prayer and thanksgiving, and no he didn’t specify who to pray to.

To an extent, yes, I’d be fine with celebrating a Muslim holiday with my friends if they would have me. I wouldn’t pray the same as they do, but I would pray. I would not celebrate it alone, and I’d also want to read up about the different holiday to see which one I’d want to celebrate.

JLeslie's avatar

@snowberry It is not about celebrating another persons religious holiday. I do Christmas with my inlaws or friends, it isn’t my holiday. the point is Thanksgiving is a national secular holiday for all Americans. The way you are thinking about it, you make all holiday religious. I would guess on Veterans day you thank God along with our soldiers. A person can thank God for everything. Religious holidays are for biblical reference and miracles. There are not general religious days. There are religious days in specific religions. If we are going to say this is a Christian holiday, then all Christians should be celebrating it, but that is not the case, only Americans do, which is why it is an American holiday and not a religious one. It is unique to our country. If it is a religious day for you personally, because you see a divine presence or intervention in the events leading to Thanksgiving Day, that is your personal interpretation (and others may hold that belief also) but not an official religious holiday.

I have a feeling I won’t be able to convince Thanksgiving is not a religious holiday, so we can just end it here if you would like. You won’t be able to convince me it is a religious one, but I appreciate you saying something, because I find it very interesting that anyone views it as a religious holiday, I have never heard that before. I actually find it a little unsettling.

JLeslie's avatar

@snowberry I started a question about Thanksgiving being a religious holiday, since we drifted away from the original question here.

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