Dr. Cornel Pewewardy, of Portland State University, visited California State University, Fresno on Tuesday, November 18 to discuss Thanksgiving from a Native American perspective.
His lecture, “How the Grinch Stole Thanksgiving,” talked about the historical inaccuracies in today’s portrayals of the holiday, reported The Collegian, the student-run newspaper.
He said that Thanksgiving has been “manufactured,” but Native Americans do give thanks, just in different ways.
“We have prayer, we have song, we give thanks for our very existence. We turn it around in our own way,” Pewewardy, a member of the Comanche and Kiowa tribes, said.
According to The Collegian, Pewewardy explained in his lecture how Thanksgiving, like many other holidays including Christmas and Columbus Day, are not based on historical accuracy, but on maintaining a consumer culture.
Pewewardy, a professor and director of the Indigenous Nations Studies Program at PSU, said the prevalent images of happy Native Americans and pilgrims sharing a meal, suppress the true history of massacres, and Fresno State anthropology professor Dvera Saxton agreed.
“I’m struck by the irony of inventing holidays with consumption that has continued, and that may be part of our attachment too,” Saxton said.
Pewewardy didn’t stop at speaking about Thanksgiving, he also spoke about cultural appropriation and reconciling. Read more about his lecture in The Collegian.