If you’re reading this in the U.S., you probably have big plans tonight for Thanksgiving dinner. Thanksgiving Day is an annual national holiday in the United States, one “particularly rich in legend and symbolism.”
Thanksgiving Day commemorates a 1621 feast shared by early colonists and the Native Americans who helped them survive. Today, however, most people focus on family and fellowship instead of the holiday’s origin.
“This country’s original people are, as Billy Graham said in 1975, its ‘forgotten people’,” Brad Hutchcraft says. Hutchcraft serves with On Eagles Wings, a division of Ron Hutchcraft Ministries.
“Now’s a great time, even as you’re sitting around the Thanksgiving table diving into the turkey, to remember that Native American brothers and sisters brought hope to us in the first place, and we can help them bring hope to their people.”
The past may be painful…
Even though it’s largely commercialized, a holiday like Thanksgiving can stir painful reminders for the Native community. “We have been able to sit down to a great Thanksgiving feast with some of our Native brothers and sisters and have a great time. They celebrate the day, but there is a lot around it that still can bring hurt,” Hutchcraft says.
“People like to think it was a long time ago, but some of this is very recent. Native children were shipped across the country to boarding schools to essentially make them white, and a lot of bad things happened in those boarding schools.”
According to the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition, over 350 government-funded, and often church-run, Indian Boarding schools operated across the U.S. in the 19th and 20th centuries:
Between 1869 and the 1960s, it’s likely that hundreds of thousands of Native American children were removed from their homes and families and placed in boarding schools operated by the federal government and the churches. Though we don’t know how many children were taken in total, by 1900 there were 20,000 children in Indian boarding schools, and by 1925 that number had more than tripled.
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SOURCE: Mission Network News, Katey Hearth
CALL TO ACTION
- Pray U.S. Christians and churches may be culturally aware and sensitive to historic pains.
- Pray believers find opportunities to share about the hope and healing Christ offers.