This dispatch by Will Falk appeared on Deep Green Resistance News Service, November 27, 2017.
Editor’s note: This is the latest installment from Will Falk as he follows the Colorado River from headwaters to delta, before heading to court to argue for the Colorado River to be recognized as having inherent rights. More details on the lawsuit are here. The index of dispatches is here.
Thanksgiving brings me cognitive dissonance. I spent this one at my partner’s sister’s house in Midway, UT. I was certainly grateful for the rest after a month traveling with the Colorado River, for the great food, for the company, for my niece sharing the goings-on in her five-year old imagination, and for my spellbound two-year old nephew watching a video with me of Vaquita porpoises swimming while using his brand-new vocabulary to say “whoa” and “pretty cool.”
None of this can mask the horror Thanksgiving represents for many of this continent’s indigenous peoples or for the natural communities destroyed in the name of European “progress,” however. When I saw friendly cartoon turkeys smiling at me from the fringes of television screens showing football games, I also saw the extinct passenger pigeons that were more likely eaten at the first Thanksgiving than turkeys. When I saw the heaps of squash, sweet potatoes, and corn, I wondered if the Wampanoag regretted saving those strange, taciturn people they found freezing and starving near Plymouth Rock. When I saw the classic images of black-clad pilgrims clutching their blunderbuss muskets, I heard those same muskets spouting sparks, smoke, and lead while villages burned and children screamed.
I cannot claim to have always thought critically about Thanksgiving. I was born and raised in a white, middle-class, American Catholic family. Though my parents, fortunately, decided to have only two kids (I have a younger sister), my father is the second oldest of eight children and my mother is the second oldest of seven. MORE…