To enjoy family and friends over a special meal, to go around the table encouraging everyone to share what they’re grateful for, to say a prayer for all that God has done—these are appropriate Thanksgiving activities. Let’s do these things.
But equally appropriate would be to remember the history and ongoing plight of First Nations people, or Native Americans, who endured nothing but paper treaties, broken promises, genocide, and cultural marginalization after that first meal. I don’t know if I have ever been a part of a Thanksgiving celebration that includes lament and repentance, but are these not foundational to a truly grateful heart? And then let’s follow these up with a commitment to leading lives of peace and justice and to educating ourselves on the ongoing plight of the people who first occupied this land.
I like the way my friend Dr. Randy Woodley, a Keetoowah Cherokee and professor of faith and culture at George Fox University in Newberg, OR, says it; he writes:
"My family's prayer for all Americans this year is to celebrate and enjoy this time of Thanksgiving. Be thankful and educate yourselves concerning the real history of America and use this time to encourage reconciliation between your family and those who share a different history. By you reaching out to others, this could be an important first step to healing our land and our nation."