We LOVE Thanksgiving for many reasons, including the family, the food, and the reflection. While our 2020 style Thanksgiving is nothing like the first Thanksgiving in 1621 (well, given COVID, it’s probably not like our Thanksgiving in 2019, either), we can still appreciate many of our traditions that took root in that first famous meal with Native Americans and English Pilgrims. It’s a delicious time to talk with our kids about the positive aspects of their relationships.
We also LOVE the day after Thanksgiving for more family time, more (leftover) food, and more reflection. The day following Thanksgiving is Native American Heritage Day, a time to specifically reflect on the Native American people and cultures. This day honors the hundreds of Native American tribes for their contributions to the United States – including the time predating America’s founding. In addition to Native American contributions, the good, bad, and tragic experiences with pre-American settlers and early American expansion are also present in these reflections.
How and when a parent chooses to talk about these complexities with their young kids are as unique as the individual child and his or her stage of development. At Primerrily, we highlight "the uglier sides of history at older ages -- when [kids are] cognitively developed enough to digest complexities, compartmentalize concepts, as well as process nuance. . . able to understand that good and bad traits are not necessarily mutually exclusive. . . understanding the complexities of history, building on the good, and improving from the bad" is just one way we can contribute to some element of justice to a difficult part of history. Like the Thanksgiving holiday, at Primerrily we observe this holiday with our kids in a positive light -- emphasizing the amazing accomplishments, and wonderful wisdom, generosity, bravery of Native Americans.
Signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2008, the federal holiday of Native American Heritage Day was endorsed by the National Indian Gaming Association and 184 federally recognized tribes. On this day, all Americans are encouraged to observe the date, and public schools are encouraged in the week prior to and after Thanksgiving to promote student understanding of Native Americans with lesson plans focused on their history, achievements, and contributions. President Trump issued a proclamation designating this month of November as National Native American Heritage Month:
"During National Native American Heritage Month, we honor the storied legacy of American Indians and Alaska Natives in our Nation. Their cherished legacy, rich cultures, and heroic history of military service inspire us all. This month, as we recommit to supporting Native American Tribes and people, we resolve to work side-by-side with their leaders to secure stronger, safer communiti