By Momo Wilms-Crowe, Food Justice Project Co-Chair
Hello to my amazing FJP family!
Most of you are likely taking today to celebrate so-called Thanksgiving with your family and loved ones in some capacity or another (with perhaps varying degrees of Zoom). I hope you are leaning into rest and celebration and gratitude — all such vital and nourishing practices for our lives.
While I fully support creating space for spending quality time in community, it is vital to simultaneously remember that for many, today is also the National Day of Mourning. This holiday is a reminder of the land theft, assault on Native culture, and historic and ongoing genocide of millions of Indigenous people on Turtle Island, which was accelerated when the Pilgrims set foot on Wampanoag territory, also known as Plymouth Rock. So while we eat today, let us keep in mind that Native Americans have the highest rates of food scarcity in the US, with 1 in 4 Natives homes characterized as food insecure. Native people living on reservations have to drive three times further to get groceries than the average American, and 85% of the food on shelves of grocery stores on reservations is packaged and processed. This lack of fresh food, along with the complex impact of intergenerational trauma, explains in part why Native Americans have the highest rates of diabetes and obesity of all demographic groups in the US. [Note: I got these statistics from Otates- see their Instagram and Patreon for Indigenous history lessons and more resources].
Hopefully these statistics help motivate us to address the historic and continued affront to Native life and choose to invest in Indigenous lifeways, which support all of us. Unpacking the myth of The First Thanksgiving and learning the true story from Indigenous voices is of the utmost importance if we are in the fight for collective liberation and a better world.
This work can begin at our dining tables with each of us having conversations, questioning traditions, reflecting on the implication of the past on the current moment, and, most importantly, taking action to support Indigenous struggle for sovereignty and self determination today. This year and always, let our gratitude be radical and demand change so that the things we are grateful for — our ecosystems, our children, our elders, our culture, our communities — are protected and encouraged to thrive for many years to come. This means reparations, land back, abolition, and learning to be in right relationship in all the many ways we can be. And please too, let this gratitude expand far beyond one day a year to sustain an ongoing practice of justice seeking and world building.
As we each think individually about how we want to relate to this Day and create new traditions, I offer a few suggestions of things to celebrate instead of a colonial mythology:
The beauty of seasons changing and the fluidity that we all similarly embody. How might we create and share rituals or ceremonies to honor each of our own seasonality? Change is inevitable. How can we celebrate it and be more intentional in the transition to what is next?
Origin stories and lineages. How might we talk with elders in our family or community about what traditions we are part of, what values we share (or perhaps are departing from), where we have been, and where we might like to go?
Indigenous stewardship of land and ecosystems that we ALL benefit from! Maybe this involves sharing a meal communally made with foods that were procured with great attention to and appreciation for where they originated from and what peoples traditionally ate it. *For settlers on thanksgiving*: Maybe this involves going one step further and donating to Native organizations or Paying “Real” Rent for living on land you likely never were invited to be on.
Indigenous resistance and struggle for survival. We all touch Indigenous struggle by our position on land -— the least we can do is take time to acknowledge and research the land we occupy, the Indigenous history of the land, how and what the tribal Nation is doing today, and how we can support their work. A great documentary to watch to learn more about Indigenous resistance by water defenders apart of #NoDAPL is “Black Snake Killaz” (watch HERE for free). We also encourage you to join CAGJ on December 9th for a free screening of the film Gather to learn more about local fights for Indigenous Food Sovereignty (Register HERE).
Let our celebration also go far beyond acknowledgement and translate into action!
This last week of Native American Heritage Month is the perfect time to participate in the launch of CAGJ’s letter writing campaign to support the fight against GE salmon. Help us fight alongside Salmon People and prevent a dangerous assault to Indigenous lifeways and food sovereignty around the globe.
While you may have heard that GE salmon was declared unlawful in court, AquaBounty still plans to release it to market by the end of 2020. JOIN US in resisting this by writing to Aramark to boycott AquaBounty GE Salmon.
See this document (https://tinyurl.com/yypf5ozw) to write a letter (so so easy and fast – we did all the work for you!!). Plus, make sure to follow the fight on Instagram by following @CAGJSeattle, @BlockCorporateSalmon, @UNR_Now.
In solidarity, breathing better traditions into existence by your side,
Momo and the entire CAGJ organizing family