Junior Breana Gionta is excited to return home for Thanksgiving to spend the holiday with her family and enjoy good food.
“Thanksgiving means a lot to me, because I don’t get to see some of my family members very often so it’s so nice to finally be reunited with them. I cherish all of the time we get to spend together,” said Gionta.
Many students come from diverse backgrounds and celebrate Thanksgiving while incorporating their different cultures.
“I come from a multi-ethnic background, Puerto-Rican and Italian, so we usually eat Spanish food on Thanksgiving. It’s a great day to spend eating and enjoying company,” said senior Leela Galucci.
Many students also recognize that Thanksgiving is a day of mourning for Indigenous families in America and a time to remember what was taken from their ancestors.
“I think a lot of people don’t know the true history behind Thanksgiving. There are some things you just can’t understand until you put yourself in the position to be uncomfortable and are vulnerable enough to see the world through a different and more truthful lens,” said Galucci.
According to some faculty members, this topic is important because it helps students learn about other cultures and reflect on the trauma and loss that others have experienced during the early days of American history.
“It’s important for students to be aware of how Indigenous and non-Indigenous people think about Thanksgiving because it opens the door to a deeper understanding of American history, in particular the history of Indian-White relations in the United States,” said Anthropology and Sociology professor Gerald Reid.
Reid says he approaches teaching this topic with empathy and careful study.
“I would teach this particular topic by first gaining more knowledge on Indigenous and non-Indigenous attitudes about Thanksgiving and the relationship between the Wampanoags and the Pilgrims, which is the source of the Thanksgiving story,” said Reid.
As many American families bond over food during this day, the Golden Hill Paugussett Indian Reservation in Trumbull, Conn. organizes a commemoration of a National Day of Mourning on Thanksgiving Day.
“Join us as we continue to create true awareness of Native peoples and history. Help shatter the untrue image of the Pilgrims and the unjust system based on racism, settler colonialism, sexism, homophobia, and the profit-driven destruction of the Earth,” said the organization’s Facebook page.
Students recall learning about the Pilgrims being helpful and appreciative of the Wampanoag Indians when they took over their land and their homes.
“It’s really easy to go through life believing what you’re told and just accepting it, especially when society encourages us to do so. It takes a ton of courage to question the norm and be open to learning more,” said freshman Sabrina Pesce.
Other students enjoy celebrating Thanksgiving with good company and food but also with sensitivity for families that are mourning the losses that their tribes endured and the discrimination they continue to face.
“I think everyone should take a few minutes from their day to research how this day affects the Indigenous community. It’s important to be aware of this uncomfortable and tragic information so that you can propel yourself forward and be a better version of yourself,” said junior Lindsay Kassardy.