Nobody does Thanksgiving like the rez. Period. On any one of the various reservations that I lived on, Turkey Day was always special. I mean, I don’t know about you all, but my family is really, really talented at four three things: making babies (Blackfeet are freakin’ prolific!), saying ridiculously long prayers, finding beauty where nobody else can possibly see it (just like all the amazingly generous people who somehow think that Sarah Jessica Parker is cute), and not practicing moderation when it comes to food.
Therefore, a holiday wherein the very point of the holiday is to say painfully long “thank you” prayers in the Blackfoot language and English, make the best food in the world out of abject poverty and a few food stamps, and eat until your stomach hates you and refuses to grumble for three weeks because it doesn’t want to speak to you? Sounds like a holiday tailor-made for Indians. Or at least Blackfeet. Or at least my family.
God bless our gluttonous selves.
Indians are the masters of making the best out of tough times; the way that we approach Thanksgiving exemplifies that resourcefulness.
I guarantee you, if you go to any reservation, to any particular house—no matter how badly the family is struggling financially—there are miracles happening on Thanksgiving Day. You go inside and you’ll see Indian moms sewing a bunch of Cornish game hens together and putting them into the oven—a while later, somehow, a beautiful brown turkey emerges. Mincemeat pies, sweetbreads, boiling meats, red hot dogs, bannock bread, posole, green chili stew, geoduck, clam fritters, corn galore, tortillas, cockles and fish head stew—TONS of all that good Native food flying around the table, little boys being slapped in the head for talking with their mouths full—and somehow mom did it on a budget of $16.22 and a few coupons from Albertsons.
Indian women do that; they make “struggling” look good, like it’s easy. Heck, all Skins do that—we have an innate ability to make something incredibly beautiful out of very little, like the Playboy chick who snagged up with Mini Me.
I hope all of you Skins are enjoying your Thanksgiving weekend. We have much to be thankful for—all the MANY Indian babies out there increasing our population base, Native languages, the increasing number of Skins committed to sobriety, the increased understanding of the importance of dads in Indian homes.
But this weekend, most of all, I’m thankful for Indian women who can hook up a vicious meal while looking incredible. I’m thankful for football and warm socks when the floor is too cold for my bare feet. I’m thankful for cold turkey sandwiches with salt and mayonnaise on them and warm, flat Shasta pop to wash it down with. I’m thankful for Indian family drama that seems to happen every single holiday usually because someone gets mad at someone else’s rotten kid and accusations fly about “picking on him.”
Takes me back to the good old days. There are rumors that I used to be that rotten kid.
Hope you had a beautiful Turkey Day. Enjoy the rest of the weekend and give thanks—we have a lot to smile about.
Gyasi Ross is a member of the Blackfeet Nation and his family also belongs to the Suquamish Nation. He recently wrote a book called “Don’t Know Much About Indians (but i wrote a book about us anyways).” You can get it at www.dkmai.com. He also makes a bunch of silly youtube videos and you can see those at www.youtube.com/dkmaibook.