Giving Thanks for Our Occupation of America?

Here it is, that time of year (the fourth Thursday in November) when we are all beseeched to consider “what we are thankful for.” This invitation to a mass cultural ritual targets everyone regardless of race, creed or sex (or these days, gender). The conformity of thought it reinforces does not discriminate among such superficial characteristics; it goes way deeper. The fundamentals (literally, the foundational elements) of the “American” mind are laid each year at this time.

Those fundamentals hold that we are a strong, brave, resourceful people – whether by our evolved nature or by the grant of a deity – standing atop the shining hill of history, surveying our domain. This belief is adorned with different coats, some prettier than others, varying by class or other social division, but itself is unquestioned except on the margins of society.

Like many other beliefs, this one is false. It is far more accurate to describe our role simply as “occupier.” That is, what is called “the United States” is factually an active occupation. Those of us here who have no Native American heritage are engaging in ongoing acts of military, cultural and economic war not only against the people who lived here first but against the land itself. Occupying is inevitably destructive.

In terms of the Thanksgiving holiday, many scholars have brought to light over recent decades what Native Americans always knew and never forgot; namely, that the traditional story is not…

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