No thanks: Students to discuss implications of Thanksgiving

"Thanks but No Thanks-giving," an event hosted by the Native American Student Union, in partnership with the Duck Nest and UO Counseling Center, will take place at the Duck Nest on Tuesday, Nov. 20, at 2 p.m. (Courtesy of the University of Oregon Counseling Center)

Thanksgiving is known as a time when families and friends come together for food, drinks and quality time. Families might discuss what they’re thankful for and show gratitude for the people in their lives.

However, that’s not the case for some Native American students.

The Native American Student Union, in partnership with the Duck Nest and the Counseling Center, is hosting a workshop titled “Thanks but No Thanks-giving” on Tuesday, Nov. 20, at 2 p.m. in the Duck Nest that aims to deconstruct the myths of the holiday and decolonize the celebration of it.

The event, held in the Duck Nest, will be a 50-minute discussion facilitated by Bryan Rojas-Arauz, a graduate employee from the Counseling Center, and Dakota MacColl, a peer wellness coordinator for the Duck Nest and a member of NASU.

“When we think of Thanksgiving, we think of elementary school, and we think of the natives and the pilgrims,” said MacColl. “That’s not how it happened and that’s not how it works. We’re aiming to demystify the narrative and this myth and talk about what it means to be native right now during the holidays,” she said.

Thanksgiving is a holiday often remembered for pilgrims and Native Americans coming together to share a harvest feast; however, this storied history leaves out years of genocide of the Native American people by English settlers.

MacColl said she doesn’t celebrate traditional American Thanksgiving. She is affiliated with the Métis indigenous nation and nêhiyaw tribes of what is now Canada. While she spends the time off from school with her family, she said she doesn’t feel like she is missing out on the holiday festivities.

“We’re mourning, and that’s not something people think of,” she said.

MacColl said she hopes the workshop will spark discussion about decolonization and give space to the indigenous voices that are often left out from conversations about the holiday.

“Decolonizing” the holiday, to MacColl, is a “reimagining of the relationship that we have with other people, with the land and with our society,” she said.

All are welcome to attend the workshop and share ideas.

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