November is a month that is primarily defined by Thanksgiving, which is ironic considering November also happens to be Native American Heritage Month. Each November we count the days until we can once again be with our families and meticulously plan out our Thanksgiving feast course by course. This Thanksgiving will be no different, but one thing to consider is that while you’re blissfully eating your mother’s herbed stuffing or chowing down on dad’s famous pecan pie, this holiday (at least in America) is the anniversary of a feast shared between the starving European settlers and the more than gracious Native Americans that fed them. Not to be a downer, but we all know how that ended for the Native Americans, and it’s about time we pay them their due respects, because the United States government sure isn’t *cough STANDING ROCK cough*.
Apart from learning the names of different tribes and where they used to live, Native American history and contributions aren’t really something you learn in school, but they definitely should be. As Americans we are often taught the white washed version of history, you know, the one that leaves out key notes like how our government and constitution are heavily influenced by the Iroquois government and constitution. What’s that you say? You mean you didn’t know that old white men constantly rewrite history to make themselves look better?
Apart from their numerous contributions to the way our current government operates, Native Americans also developed far more advanced medical techniques than their European counterparts. With a complex understanding of human anatomy, Native Americans were able to perform surgeries that European doctors could only dream of, including amputations and routine bone settings. Using naturally occurring anesthetics like peyote and “Jamestown Weed,” Native Americans were able to drug their patient before a surgery, where European doctors of the time would likely have to render their patients unconscious before performing the exact same surgery.
Additionally, and probably the most relevant point as we prepare to feast on piles upon piles of food, Native Americans were the ones that taught the settlers at Jamestown how to survive, introducing them to maize, and how to properly irrigate a patch of land so that it would be suitable for growing crops.
The moral of our brief and abridged history lesson: forget what the textbooks told you, America as we know it was built on the backs of Native Americans, and they absolutely deserve recognition for such, or you know, access to clean water. In case you haven’t guessed it by now, this is very much a #NODAPL post. If you’re feeling particularly thankful for the fact that you have access to clean water, consider helping people whose right to clean water is being threatened by our government, by taking a look at the Sacred Stone Camp’s Amazon Supply List here or by donating to Standing Rock's legal defense fund here.