Watchlist: ‘How to Honor Indigenous People on Thanksgiving’

11.30.2023 Kamiah Koch Watchlist


By Kamiah Koch

Social media/digital journalist

The Thanksgiving holiday has just passed, but its controversial history still remains.

NowThis, a social media-focused news outlet, posted a video to its YouTube channel in 2022. It featured an interview with Pawnee Tribal member and Illuminative Executive Director Crystal Echo Hawk about the history of the holiday.

According the Echo Hawk, Thanksgiving was an invention of President Abraham Lincoln and his peers after the Civil War.

“They were sort of looking at propaganda and different strategies to think about how they were bringing the American public back together,” Echo Hawk said. “[Thanksgiving] is really American propaganda over time that people have internalized and that’s really the first story. But it really just wipes away the brutality, the genocide, the violence that the pilgrims and colonization brought along with it.”

Echo Hawk encourages the rebranding of Thanksgiving. She said it can still be a day to come together, but that we should also use it as a day to change how America thinks about Native Americans, specifically to focus on Native people and culture existing today, instead of on characters of the past.

“An easy, fun activity for parents, for kids, for families to do is just find out whose Indigenous land you are on,” Echo Hawk said.

She promoted the website for a map of Native territories. She also encourages families to find out how many Tribes are in their state and what is going on in the local Tribal communities.

“There is so much people can watch and really see Native peoples in a contemporary context,” Echo Hawk said.

If you would like to watch the entire interview with Echo Hawk for yourself you can find it at