Darlene Wendels/The Collegian
Dr. Cornel Pewewardy, of Portland State University, spoke at California State University, Fresno on Tuesday, November 18 about the Native American perspective on Thanksgiving.

‘How the Grinch Stole Thanksgiving’


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.

RELATED: The Wampanoag Side of the First Thanksgiving Story

Pewewardy didn’t stop at speaking about Thanksgiving, he also spoke about cultural appropriation and reconciling. Read more about his lecture in The Collegian.

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alexjacobs's picture
Submitted by alexjacobs on
All these holidays at end of year become a consumer whirlwind and time for retails business to make profits and stock markets to bet on that profit...in my travels around, the end-of-year is time for people with money, undeclared cash to turn into something of value like art and other consumables...Native People celebrate and honor the earth, the elements, animal & plant 'people' and our relationships with all of them at the cycle of the moon, so every moon, every month, we sing, dance, pray, play games and feast...

Michael Madrid's picture
Michael Madrid
Submitted by Michael Madrid on
It's too bad this holiday has to roll around before the average American becomes aware of its significance to us and of its true origins.

curtj's picture
Submitted by curtj on
The rewriting of history. What is not said about the "Pilgrims" is what they did prior and after they settled where they did. They first stopped at Providence Bay where they survived by stealing the food left on the Natives graves for the ones who passed on. They left just in time when the Natives discovered the "Pilgrims" were stealing their loved ones food, meant for the next phase of their journey through life. The "Pilgrims" next stopped in Plymouth Bay where they squatted on lands left vacant by the Natives being wiped out by the Smallpox epidemic, where they gave their thanks for the Natives being wiped out. They would have starved to death again, but for the kindness of the Natives who showed them how to survive off the lands and waters. Supposedly the "Pilgrims" gave thanks but in a way almost unrecognizable as a celebration. What is not said is the Pilgrims did practice the Europeans penchant for colonialism, with its theft of others resources and lands and the murder of the inhabitants to steal it. Three years after the first supposedly Thanksgiving feast, Captain Miles Standish and his henchmen, lured the Native chiefs to a blockhouse under the ruse of getting together for a meeting. The chiefs went to the blockhouse and once they were all inside, slammed shut and bolted the doors and windows. The Native chiefs were shot, and run through with swords and the survivors were hung by their necks from the rafters. How is that for the "Pilgrims" thanking the people who saved them from starvation? To me the policies of colonialism with its theft and murder, ends with terrorist attacks against America 100% of the time. America spends trillions to invade and manipulate the coups and assassinations of governments and leaders, to destabilize them so groomed and bribable despot dictators could be emplaced to allow foreign owned conglomerates to go in and steal their resources and lands. America spends the trillions it don't have to fund these invasions that profits only a certain few neo conservative individuals and their neo con owned conglomerates. with some going to the despots and finally trickling into our bribed politicians and judges investment portfolios. America spends the trillions and the neo cons, our politicians and the despots get the profits and in return, Americans get the trillion dollar bills and resulting terrorist attacks. Treason actually!