Thanksgiving is a time for, obviously, thanksgiving. As Christians, we thank God for the blessings in our lives, our communities, and our world.
At Lutheran Indian Ministries, we work daily to show God's love and grace to the Native communities in which we serve, but Thanksgiving is an exciting time where we are able to share our plentiful blessings with others to the glory of our Great God.
At the Hope House, volunteers will come together to fill food baskets with all the necessities for a wonderful holiday meal, which will be given to families who would otherwise not be able to buy the items for a special dinner.
In Alaska, with the help of Zion Lutheran in Fairbanks, they will create food boxes complete with frozen turkeys and all the fixing (plus other winter necessities) to send to about 20 remote, Alaskan villages. Some of the food will be distributed to individual families in need, but many of the villages will use the boxes to host a community-wide holiday gathering.
In addition, our ministry sites, and the many churches who support the Native communities during the holiday season, will begin preparing for Christmas, collecting gifts that represent, and open up conversations about, the greatest gift of all, Jesus.
As we celebrate and share, however, it is important that we, especially those of us who don't come from a Native background, understand the feelings many have about Thanksgiving and the memories this holiday brings to mind. For some, it is a reminder of the atrocities of European settlers and is a day of mourning. For others, it is a celebration of triumph, acknowledging that they are the descendants of the survivors.
We've collected a sampling of Thanksgiving stories written from a Native perspective to fill the time between football games.
Thanksgiving: A Native American View by Jacqueline Keeler
The Thanksgiving Myth: Not a Bad Start by Rev. Dr. Randy S. Woodley
Happy Thanksgiving: An American Indian Perspective by Terra Trevor
Do American Indians Celebrate Thanksgiving? by Dennis Zotigh
Have a happy and blessed Thanksgiving, and please keep the Native American and Alaska and Hawaiian Native communities in your prayers this holiday season.