We are the people of Turtle Island. Our tribes range from the native lands, north to south.

We give thanks for the compassion and opportunity to tell you what this day is about–the Indigenous people that have fought and continue to fight for their land rights and civil rights.

This is Thanks-taking.

We renamed “Thanksgiving” because the meaning of this day has to change.

Masked as an innocent family tradition, this holiday references the events that have led to the near annihilation of Native Americans and at the same time rewrites a false narrative of gratitude. This holiday celebrates the genocide of our people to profit from our erasure and normalize the harm inflicted on Indigenous people today.

Others call this Survivor’s Day. In remembrance, solidarity, and protest, members of the American Indian Movement refused to eat.

This is why you need to know what you are celebrating. Know what you are giving thanks for.

Recognize the land which you occupy and the tribes that originally lived there. Know we are fighting for our sacred landmarks as you would if your own family, household, or life were threatened.

Take time to cherish and give thanks to your family, but make sure no one gives thanks for those have taken this land. This is time for America to gather as a community and reflect on its relationship with its indigenous people.

Give thanks that Native people are still here.

We must remember and honor the Indigenous lives and land that have been stolen and lost. We must take agency as Native lives are still threatened with high murder and poverty rates, police brutality, poor land conditions, legalized discriminatory practices, and constant denial to resources.

It is every American’s responsibility to advocate and educate themselves about how current Indigenous communities are affected by injustice, racial bias, destruction, and the erasure of our history.

– Alicia and Melissa McDaniel

** The image is a photograph of Alicia and Melissa McDaniel’s maternal great grandparents, their grandfather, and his siblings attending an indigenous celebration in San Juan de Los Lagos, Mexico circa 1951