Thanksgiving, a Time to Remember

When most people think of Thanksgiving, an image of family, feasting, and football comes to mind. And while this national holiday is a joyous one for some, for many families in Native American communities, it is a difficult reminder of the food insecurity that is experienced year-round.

It’s an unfortunate fact that many Native communities still suffer incredibly high need, with food insecurity impacting one in four families of this population. Often, families residing in rural or geographically isolated communities do not have access to fresh fruits and vegetables, and struggle to lay healthy food on the table on a regular basis.

In addition to this, many Native Americans experience mixed feelings when it comes to celebrating Thanksgiving. Sara Fills The Pipe, a Native American Elder from the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, celebrates Thanksgiving but also makes it a point to tell her children the story of Thanksgiving from the Native perspective, to help them understand why some in their community do not celebrate the holiday.

“I tell them, you listen to the Indian version and then you’ll understand why some people don’t celebrate [Thanksgiving],” she said.

Partnership With Native Americans (PWNA) works to deliver meals for thousands of Native Americans annually through their program partners on the reservations. In 2016, PWNA provided healthy Thanksgiving meals that served more than 38,000 Elders and families across more than 40 reservations in the Northern Plains and Southwest.

Even though the history is fraught, many of PWNA’s reservation partners celebrate Thanksgiving as a day when they can gather for a shared meal and celebrate their community. To learn more about how you can join PWNA in supporting a positive holiday for Native families, download our free Thanksgiving publication.

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