By T.Mayheart Dardar
Dear Lord I come before you this day in the presence of atayk nahollo, the white man, because it is this day that he calls Thanksgiving. On this day he likes to remind himself of the Indian people that helped him survive all those years ago, indeed he now calls the whole month of November Native-American month.
We are shown pictures of smiling pilgrims and smiling Indians as we stand in his schools and at his festivals in our feathers and buckskins and say that we too are thankful.
But Lord today I reflect, as an Indigenous man, on what Thanksgiving is to us. I still, with a grateful heart, give you thanks that my people are still here and I realize that the trials that we’ve faced were not sent by you. Though many things were done to Native people in your name they were the works of men and not the acts of God.
Though they say you were with them, I do not believe you walked with those same Pilgrim Fathers as they robbed and killed the same people who helped give them their first Thanksgiving.
I know you were not with the ‘Christian’ Lord Jeffery Amherst when he ordered smallpox infected blankets sent out to the tribes of the Ohio territory and unleashed a pandemic that killed over one hundred thousand people.
Neither were you with the ‘Christian’ American army as it used this same tactic on the tribes of the upper Missouri or with the genocide they attempted at Horseshoe Bend, on the Trail of Tears, at Sand Creek, Washita, Wounded Knee and the hundreds of other such “incidents”.
Nor do you stand with them today as the genocide continues among the Dine’ at Black Mesa, with Shoshone of Newe Segobia, on the Cree of Lubicon Lake and the Lakota of Paha Sapa. I pray Lord that you stand with those same Dine’, Shoshone, Cree and Lakota and all Native people as they continue to fight the unholy doctrine of Manifest Destiny and the destruction that it brings.
Lord my prayer also goes for those around the world who also continue to suffer because of the avarice of the beast. I pray for the Maya of Guatemala, the Zapatista of Mexico, the Palestinian people and the people of Iraq as they all continue to bleed, I know now that the ‘Indian Wars’ didn’t stop in 1890 but they continue today.
Lord today I lift all these up in prayer, I’m thankful that we survive and I pray for the strength and courage to continue. I know your love knows no bonds and that the suffering of the children of Iraq or the elderly Dine’ is as dear to you as anyone else.
We pray for the strength you gave our ancestor, a power and faith that has brought us this far and we remember the words of Jesus…
Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they which hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled.
These words have always rang true with us, they were spoken to our hearts long before atayk nahollo set foot on our land. So Lord like the Ghost Dancers of years ago we have faith that all things will be made right but we realize that we must have the courage to fight towards that end.
So we give you thanks today Lord, not for the hypocrisy of atayk nahollo and his American way but for the true grace and mercy of the Creator of Life.
T. Mayheart Dardar was born in the Houma Indian settlement below Golden Meadow, Louisiana. He served for sixteen years on the United Houma Nation Tribal Council (retired in Oct. 2009). Currently he works with Bayou Healers, a community based group advocating for the needs of coastal Indigenous communities in south Louisiana