Take a Look at Some of the Ways Colleges Prepared for Thanksgiving 2018

By Published on November 22, 2018

  • A number of college students around the country are choosing to recognize Thanksgiving by highlighting themes of colonization.
  • The University of Colorado gave a tool kit that not only addressed Thanksgiving, but also environmental issues and American Indian-themed school mascots.
  • Students at the University of Pennsylvania could participate in a conversation about “racism in the week leading to Thanksgiving.”


While Thanksgiving is generally a holiday for family, traditions and lots of food, some students are choosing to focus on mourning the American holiday and finding ways to treat it critically in light of its links to colonization.

Merrimack College

McQuade Library at Merrimack College in Massachusetts shared a report on “decolonizing” Thanksgiving on its Facebook page.

The article “Decolonizing Thanksgiving: A Toolkit for Combatting Racism in Schools” by St. Mary University Professor Lindsey Passenger Wieck provides resources to educators and family members to teach Thanksgiving in a “socially responsible” way and to stop “problematic” classroom activities surrounding the holiday.

“Here are some wonderful resources for teaching children about Thanksgiving!” the Facebook post reads. “This is great for educators and parents. #Thankgiving #DecolonizingThanksgiving #AntiRacism #ChildrensEducation #NationalDayofMourning”

The school reportedly took out “#NationalDayofMourning” from the Facebook post when it came to Merrimack College spokesman Jim Chiavelli’s attention.

“It in no way reflects the position of the college,” Chiavelli previously told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

University of Pennsylvania

University of Pennsylvania students living in Stouffer College House were invited to join a conversation about “racism in the week leading to Thanksgiving” on Saturday.

Graduate associate Jax Lastinger, who “identifies as white,” hosted “A Conversation on Racism — Considerations on Thanksgiving and ‘American’ Politics.” Jax doesn’t claim to be an expert on the topic, but is “invested in anti-racism politics,” according to the event description.

“In this conversation, we will explore the ways that Native Americans are erased from our culture in the context of Thanksgiving, as well as more generally,” the event description reads.

University of Colorado

The University of Colorado Boulder provided various resources to not only address Thanksgiving, but also environmental issues and American Indian-themed school mascots.

One document in the “Thanksgiving 2.0 #2018” tool kit teaches students how to communicate about “logos within U.S. professional sports leagues that feature names, terms, and/or symbols associated with indigenous tribes of North Americans.”

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“This action of commodification furthers the idea that colonizers are above indigenous people as they utilize their higher positions to implement oppressive signs into society,” the document concerning sports and American Indians reads.

The document suggests people should not wear NFL gear that has American Indian logos or paint their faces red.

Another document provided talking points surrounding the Dakota Access Pipeline, an oil pipeline that has received pushback from activists over environmental concerns and fear that it might trample on tribal lands.

“These Talking Points have been created to help prepare parents, primary school educators, and advocates to talk with children about the 2016 campaign of water protectors at Standing Rock, North Dakota and ongoing issues of pipeline controversies in 2018,” the document said.

University of Oregon

Student groups at the University of Oregon decided to remind everybody that Thanksgiving celebrates “ongoing genocide” through an event called “Thanks But No Thanks-giving: Decolonizing an American Holiday.”

“The main messages are that of gratitude, food, and family; however, Thanksgiving is, foundationally speaking, a celebration of the ongoing genocide against native peoples and cultures across the globe,” the event description said.

The event was hosted by the Native American Law Students Association, the Native American Student Union and the Duck Nest Wellness Center at the university Tuesday.


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