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Randy Kritkausky

Citizen Potawatomi Nation

I am sending a gift, a box of “Indian corn,” to the Wall Street Journal editorial board as a reminder of what really happened in colonial North America and is commemorated by the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday.

On this 400th anniversary of what we believe to be the first Thanksgiving, the Wall Street Journal is poised to print its insulting Pilgrim Journal version of early colonial history for the 60th time.

Not only is the account suffused with the racist sentiment, but it is also factually incorrect to a grotesque degree. The newspaper is impugning its own credibility and not just its core values.

In 2020, I wrote to the Wall Street Journal imploring them to retire the editorial and was ignored. This year I organized a Change.org petition to remove the offending commentary

Change.org petition

https://www.change.org/p/end-the-wall-street-journal-s-thanksgiving-insult-to-native-americans

More than 50,000 brave souls have joined the effort.

The offending editorials by the Wall Street Journal refer to the Indigenous people who gave Pilgrims corn and taught them how to grow the life-saving source of food as less than human. The diary showcased by the Wall Street Journal characterizes this bountiful continent as “a hideous and desolate wilderness, full of wilde beasts and wilde men.”

Such de-humanization contributed to the genocide that extinguished 90 percent of the Indigenous population and produced residential schools that took Native children from their families, as was the case with my grandfather who attended three of them. This dehumanization is not a thing of the past. It continues today with the disappearances of thousands of Indigenous women whose fate is often not even investigated.

The Wall Street Journal editorial page claims to promote an economic philosophy rooted in free markets and a free society.

Yet on Thanksgiving, the paper publishes a narrative absent of any gratitude for the Indigenous gift of corn which now comprises 90 percent of the feed grain produced by U.S. agribusiness. How ironic that this gift of the so-called “desolate wilderness” is not even recognized on Thanksgiving.

As Indigenous people, we continually express gratitude for the bounty of Mother Earth. The Wall Street Journal sees our nation’s wealth as having exclusively human origins.

“But we can all remind ourselves that the richness of this country was not born in the resources of the earth, though they be plentiful, but in the men that took its measure,” the Desolate Wilderness’ companion commentary notes. “For that reminder is everywhere — in the cities, towns, farms, roads, factories, homes, hospitals, schools that spread everywhere over that wilderness.”

As world leaders gathered at the COP 26 climate summit recognized, a rapacious approach to the development of the earth’s resources has outlived its time.

Not so, Wall Street Journal.

Our gift of social inspiration to the colonists is not mentioned by those who proclaim themselves to be the defenders of a free society. Instead, they offer a historically inaccurate portrayal of American exceptionalism when they claim that the United States is “the longest enduring society of free men governing themselves without benefit of kings or dictators.”

In point of fact, Indigenous people governed themselves with consensus-making for centuries, most famously the Haudenosaunee whose peace-making confederacy inspired the U.S. founding fathers, and Benjamin Franklin, in particular.

What can we do to correct the errors and discontinue the Wall Street Journal’s offending Thanksgiving tradition?

Sign the petition.

Change.org sponsored a contest to write an alternative to the Wall Street Journal editorial. While the deadline for entry and winning a prize has passed, the opportunity remains to present multiple perspectives on the holiday of Thanksgiving and use it as a moment of gratitude. https://www.change.org/p/end-the-wall-street-journal-s-thanksgiving-insult-to-native-americans/u/29822222?cs.

Meanwhile, lay down tobacco and offer a prayer that our message and our ears of corn may reach the ears of editors grown tone-deaf.

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