So much has been written about the origins of Thanksgiving in this country, and when you look deeper into the circumstances that brought us to where we are today, it makes one pause and reflect, deeply, on the meaning of Thanksgiving. Around the world the aboriginal and indigenous peoples, native to lands eventually occupied and in many cases taken over by people from other continents, probably welcomed foreign visitors with the mores of the times of their tribes. It sometimes took the form of outright hostility – out of fear of the unknown, to gentle gestures of invitations to strangers to join their clan over meals to experience the food and traditions of the area.
The complexities of the early interactions are well documented in this article, written by David J. Silverman, Professor at George Washington University:
At our Center, we are constantly assessing the relationships and dynamics between people and animals in urban and wild areas. What hits home for us is the realization that this great web of life is all inclusive, and everything is tied together. Gratitude for the web of life, and our place in it, is at the heart of our work. The troubles of the world can always be reduced to the simple concept of recognizing your place and humbly accepting the knowledge that you are no better or worse than the person standing next to you. We are all equal in that regard. If we exploit earth’s resources, disturb the links between people and the land, thereby tearing the web apart, we do so at our own peril.
The image you see is of the Tongva Monument, in Ballona Discovery Park. It was created by Robert Dorame, a Gabrielino Tongva Elder, and his work symbolizes mankind’s inerasable spirit to overcome injustice by pulling us back into the web, reminding all races that we are one species united as homo sapiens.
As we celebrate this year’s Thanksgiving, whether with family or friends, our Center’s message to you is to be grateful for that which is in your life, in your web, and to make conscious efforts every day towards harmony and peace. Breaking bread is a great gesture over this holiday season.