Two Potomac Students from Native American backgrounds share their perspectives on Thanksgiving

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A symbol used in Virginia to commemmorate Indigenous People’s Day

Charlotte Castle, News Editor

In her blog, titled project 562, Matika Wilbur, who is a part of the Swinomish and Tulalip tribes, interviewed Native peoples on their perspectives on Thanksgiving and the root of the holiday. Those whom she interviewed described the suffering of their ancestors, and how painful Thanksgiving is to them and their families. They detailed the dark side of the history of Thanksgiving that is often overlooked. These feelings are echoed by two Potomac students who also identify as Native American. 

The Potomac School’s campus used to be land which the Tsenacomoco people lived on, “from the James River to the Potomac, encompassing much of northeast Virginia, including McLean and the 95 acres Potomac School occupies today,” as Current writer Tess Weinreich ‘21 chronicled

For two Potomac School students with Native American heritages, Thanksgiving is a holiday with troubling implications. In their view, Americans’ typical Thanksgiving celebration overlooks the true historical significance of the holiday, especially what it means to Native Americans. 

“Our country was built off of genocide and exploitation of people of color,” said freshman Mac Hubbard, who identifies as Native American. “While yes, you should be thankful, you should also be thankful for all the people of color who had to go through an entire genocide because this land had indigenous people way before us.”

Although Thanksgiving is a sensitive topic for their family, Mac hopes that Thanksgiving can better represent indigenous cultures and teach children the real history of the holiday.

“Thanksgiving should be celebrated by understanding that people deserve representation and that they deserve reparations for everything. Education systems should be changed that don’t correctly teach what Thanksgiving came from,” Mac said. 

Anna Heller, a senior whose mom is a part of the Apache tribe, still celebrates Thanksgiving, but watches documentaries about the history of Thanksgiving and Native Americans. 

“I resent the roots of the holiday but [my family] still celebrates it and likes it,” she said. “It’s a time that I prioritize my family and spend time with them and tell them that I’m grateful for them. I like to write cards and tell people I’m grateful for them.”