Reflection and Giving Thanks
As we approach the holiday season, we do so with hope and appreciation for all we have in our lives.
Homeword has traditionally reflected on the Thanksgiving holiday as a time to demonstrate our gratitude for the support from the greater community that makes our work possible. We recognize what Montanans have accomplished by accessing homes they can afford and through education they’ve obtained so they can navigate their financial choices.
This year we created our annual Thanksgiving Cards, telling the heartwarming story of how Becky found her home and what it means to her and her family. Then a friend shared with us that they are distancing themselves from the traditional Thanksgiving holiday because of its roots in the oppression of Native Americans. This caused us to pause and to reflect on our actions and our intentions.
We acknowledge that celebration of Thanksgiving can be hurtful to Indigenous people. Unlearning what we’ve known from the time we were kindergarteners and relearning about historic events of violence and oppression against Native Americans invites us to recognize the truth about intergenerational trauma that impacts tribal communities and Indigenous people today.
What do we do with this disturbing historical record? We can’t change the past. But we can help shape our shared future by learning, listening and striving to be part of a collective healing.
I started writing this blog from the comfort of my kitchen when it was 15 degrees outside. Some of our neighbors slept on that cold hard ground that night. There are 11 federally recognized tribes in Montana and one state recognized tribe. Native American people make up 7% of our population yet comprise 30% of households living in poverty across Montana.
We can’t improve on this current situation if we don’t fully understand our history. It’s our choice to take the time to learn, to open our hearts to acknowledge how this history has marginalized and continues to impact Indigenous people today.
This time can still be a special time of gratitude, compassion and fellowship. These values bind us together. They also beg us to consider our neighbors and take time for reflection.
I want to conclude by expressing my gratitude for the things and people in my life that nourish and sustain me. I invite you to learn more with us, starting with this piece about Allyship With Our Native Community from the Missoula Food Bank: http://www.missoulafoodbank.org/allyship-with-our-native-community/