Thanksgiving from a Lakota perspective

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Thanksgiving has become a joyous event where most people think of carving up the turkey and what they're buying on Black Friday, but not everyone remembers it as a happy holiday.

Our reporter Katrina Lim takes us back to the history of Thanksgiving from the perspective of Native Americans.

For many Americans, Thanksgiving is a celebration of family, food, and fun.
But Dr. A.C. Ross says for the Pequot Indians, it wasn't always like that.

Dr. A.C. Ross says, "The original Thanksgiving was a victory celebration by the Pilgrims over the Pequot Indians."

When the Pilgrims first landed in what is now Connecticut in the early 1600s, Dr. Ross says relations between the Natives and settlers may have been civil at first, but it soon turned bloody with shooting and scalping.

Dr. A.C. Ross says, "So they (Pilgrims) start chopping the heads off of the people they killed and they brought them in for evidence."

Larry Salway is a pastor at He Sapa New Life Church, and he says some Natives think of Thanksgiving as a time of mourning.

Co-Pastor Larry Salway says, "When they forget this, that makes it a lot more depressive, a lot more of a time of mourning for the people because we are an oral people. We're storytellers."

Pastor Salway says for his family, Thanksgiving and Christmas meant nothing because they had nothing living in poverty.

Pastor Larry says he doesn't want to divide people by talking about this difficult topic.

He just wants recognition that it happened.

Co-Pastor Larry Salway says, "We want it acknowledged. There has to be revealing before they can start on their healing path."

Jonathan Old Horse is a linguistics teacher in the Lakota language.

He says when he thinks of Thanksgiving, sometimes he thinks of it as a Native American, with atrocities, but he also thinks of the holiday as an American.

Jonathan Old Horse says, "We need to remember those things and to share them to make sure that they - those things never ever happen again because it really destroyed a lot of people, but through all of those difficulties and hardships, it made us a stronger people. It makes us more thankful for the things that we do have because of the people that came before us."

Old Horse says even though his ancestors are not the Pequot, it's essential that we all remember this dark, but important part, of American history.