With Thanksgiving just around the corner, festivities across the country are starting to ramp up, and if your childhood was anything like mine, you probably guiltily remember all of the arts and crafts projects you made in school that you now realize were highly problematic.

According to my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Douglass, “A long time ago some Native Americans taught the colonists how to grow corn and then they became best friends forever and had a really big feast to celebrate. This is why,” she said, “in honor of Thanksgiving, I’m going to have you all make decorations out of construction paper that are wildly insensitive if not flagrantly racist. Luckily, you won’t realize that they are until several years from now when your educators finally stop lying to you about the atrocities of our country’s history.”

To get a better understanding of what kids are doing these days to unknowingly mock the genocide of millions of Indigenous peoples, I spoke with Trevor, a six year old that I found at a local elementary school.

Trevor’s comments were brief, only exclaiming “Turkey!” as he pointed to the most god-awful finger painting I’ve ever seen before scampering off. Although dismayed by his utter lack of artistic vision and aesthetic, I was encouraged by the absence of cultural appropriation and racism in his shitty rendition of the bird that perhaps there are other ways that children can celebrate Thanksgiving than turning toilet paper roll tubes into mini colonizers.

Inspired by Trevor’s wise word, I compiled the following list of ways to repent for the horrendous Thanksgiving art projects of my past.

  1. Support turkey-centric art. Let’s focus on the animals we slaughter en masse once a year for the celebration of colonizing North America instead of the actual colonizers, am I right? That’s good, right? I feel like that’s still not good.
  2. Don’t listen to my Uncle Ron. Seriously, don’t trust a word out of that man’s perpetually intoxicated mouth. If he comes up to you talking about how “people are just too sensitive these days” and “a little paper pilgrim never hurt anybody,” please, just walk away. Do not engage.
  3. Make historically accurate pilgrim art. If there’s anything to counteract the cutesy little toilet paper roll pilgrims I made in the first grade, it’s a toilet paper roll pilgrim with typhoid fever that hasn’t bathed in the last decade.
  4. Support Indigenous communities. Learn about, support, and fight to protect Native American Tribes and Nations, recognizing and respecting their existence year-round.

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