Understanding Thanksgiving and UIUC Land Acknowledgements

 

Image from the Native American House Library at UIUC

“I/We would like to begin today by recognizing and acknowledging that we are on the lands of the Peoria, Kaskaskia, Piankashaw, Wea, Miami, Mascoutin, Odawa, Sauk, Mesquaki, Kickapoo, Potawatomi, Ojibwe, and Chickasaw Nations. These lands were the traditional territory of these Native Nations prior to their forced removal; these lands continue to carry the stories of these Nations and their struggles for survival and identity.

As a land-grant institution, the University of Illinois has a particular responsibility to acknowledge the peoples of these lands, as well as the histories of dispossession that have allowed for the growth of this institution for the past 150 years. We are also obligated to reflect on and actively address these histories and the role that this university has played in shaping them. This acknowledgement and the centering of Native peoples is a start as we move forward for the next 150 years.”

The above statement is a land acknowledgment suggested by the Native American House at UIUC. Land acknowledgements are read at the start of events, meetings, or other gatherings to center the Indigenous Nations whose lands we occupy and recognize that the violent histories of settler colonialism that displaced them are very much still ongoing. In addition to the adoption of land acknowledgements, greater cultural emphasis has been placed on Indigenous liberation, especially around national holidays like Columbus Day and Thanksgiving. As many of us prepare to head home for a well-deserved break, we invite you to take a moment to reflect on the problematic history of Thanksgiving.

We all know the story; the brave Pilgrims boarded the Mayflower in search of religious freedom and arrived at what is now called Plymouth. At first they struggled to inhabit the land, but their friendly neighbors, the Native Americans, welcomed them and showed them how to plant corn. To celebrate their first successful fall harvest and the friendship between groups, a huge feast is thrown, marking the first Thanksgiving. As historian David J. Silverman wrote in the New York Times, “the Indians’ legacy is to present America as a gift to white people — or in other words, to concede to colonialism.”

This myth erases the violence that both preceded and followed the alliance between the Wampanoags — the tribe often unnamed in the Thanksgiving story — and the Pilgrims. Many Americans believe that the meeting at Plymouth Rock was the first contact between settlers and Indigenous people, however European colonists had been arriving in the Americas for almost a hundred years prior, bringing with them diseases and war. Silverman argues that the Wampanoags agreed to the alliance with the Pilgrims in part to avoid the violence that they had become accustomed to from settlers. As the US colonies expanded to occupy more land, Indigenous populations were terrorized by white settlers, forcibly removed from their ancestral lands or into repressive assimilation programs. The myth of Thanksgiving sanitizes a genocide.

This history is disturbing, but important to confront, and this post is far from comprehensive. While you gather around the turkey, take a moment to share what you’ve learned with your family. Whether this information is new to you or not, consider learning more about Indigenous history and modern life. Some great books to start with include An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz and Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer, both available in the U of I Collection.

Written by: Danny

Posted by: Darian

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Halloween Book Recommendations 2021

Halloween is getting closer, which means it is time for some Halloween themed book recommendations! Whether you are a true horror fan, or you want some lighthearted Halloween vibes that won’t give you nightmares, we have got you covered with this breakdown of some of our favorite books to get you in the Halloween spirit.

Classic Horror Novels

Let The Right One In (2004) by John Ajvide Lindqvist

The Only Good Indians (2020) by Stephen Graham Jones

For true horror fans, these are some truly scary novels that are sure to keep you up at night. Explore tales of classic horror creatures, with vampires in Let the Right One In and vengeful ghosts in The Only Good Indians.

Sci-Fi Horror

Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer (2014)

Under the Skin by Michael Faber (2000)

Blending horror and science fiction, these novels explore unsettling new worlds beyond your wildest imagination. Follow mysterious, extraterrestrial forces and explore the ways in which they wreak havoc on the world as we know it.

Young Adult Horror

Wilder Girls by Rory Powers (2019)

The Forest of Stolen Girls by June Hur (2021)

For those who want to enjoy a good horror novel but can’t handle maximum spookiness, these young adult picks could be exactly what you need to get into the Halloween spirit!

Wilder Girls is supernatural while The Forest of Stolen Girls is more centered in realism, but both novels explore themes of death and murder, and both contain mysteries full of twists and turns that will keep you turning pages.

Graphic Novels

Uzumaki by Junji Ito (1999)

Sensor by Junji Ito (2021)

One of my all time favorite authors, Junji Ito is an absolute master of horror writing and illustration. These graphic novels tell surreal stories partnered with disturbing images, beyond even some of the most terrifying horror films. Uzumaki is a staple of the horror genre, but Ito fans will also be excited to hear that the horror artists released a new book, Sensor, just earlier this year. For those who really want to be frightened by a book this Halloween, consider picking up one of these graphic novels.

Lighthearted Halloween Comics

Snapdragon by Kat Leyh (2020)

Beetle and the Hollowbones by Aliza Layne (2020)

Sometimes you want those good Halloween vibes, but you’re not actually looking for anything scary at all. We’ve got you covered too! 

These gorgeous graphic novels are short and sweet (and family friendly!) while following witches, ghosts and goblins on various heartwarming adventures. Plus all of these graphic novels, both lighthearted and scary, are perfect for a quick read so you can read any of them in one sitting as part of your Halloween celebration.

Happy Halloween!!

Man with pumpkin mask dancing

Written by: Darian

Posted by: Maurissa

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