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Thanksgiving & Native American Heritage Month as Invitations, Part III

Monday, November 21, 2022 8:01 PM | Emily Woodmansee (Administrator)

Songs of Ancestors: a selection from the Honey Sweet Harmony Song Grove

Ancestors

Roots: From the album The Wild Fears We Tame by Mica Whitney and Graham Remocaldo of Swamp Trees in Richmond, VA. They are singer/songwriters and farmers.

All of my ancestors live within me (lead/soloist then repeats “within me” 2 more times, while group starts to repeat “within me, within me...” until the next repeat phrase beings)

Within me I can feel a spirit rising (“rising” follows same repetition pattern)

Rising up above to where the birds sing (“the birds sing”)

The birds sing their songs to the stars at night (“at night”)

At night I dream with all of my ancestors (“my ancestors”)

And all of my ancestors live within me…

(continue to repeat)

Ancestor Sky People (also heard here)

Roots: Originally a “Dance for Universal Peace” with lyrics by Mischa Saez, Art Director at Camp Sunburst for children and families with HIV/AIDS in the early 90s, with music by Harmony Grisman and movements by Sharee Anderson.

Ancestor Sky People all here today

Hear our Heart song

Hear our Respect

Hear our Love

Hear our grateful tears fall

We are truly blessed (oo - oo),

We are truly blessed (oo - oo),

We are truly blessed.

Mahk Jchi

Teaching version

Roots: Composed by and copyright Pura Fé and Soni of Ulali, a haunting song written by the Native American women’s group Ulali. The song is in a compilation of Tutelo and Saponi languages, now extinct dialects of the Sioux nation from the Ohio Valley. There is a commonly mistaken translation of this song widely circulated on the internet but the translation below has been confirmed by the artist. This song takes an investment in learning and is more complex for choral, oral-tradition learning, but do-able and worth it with older children, teens and adults. You could teach some of the simpler lines to sing with younger children, and enjoy dancing while listening to the rest.

Mahk Jchi tahm boo-ee

yahm pi-gih-dee

Mahk Jchi tahm boo-ee

kahn speh-wah eh-bi (x2)

Mahm-pi wah ho-ka yi nonk,

tah hond tah-ni kih-yee tai-yee

Ghee weh meh yee-tai-yee,

Nan-ka yaht yah moo-ni-yeh wah-jhi-seh

English translation:

Our hearts are full and our minds are good

Our ancestors come and give us strength

Stand tall, sing, dance and never forget who you are

Or where you come from

Voices of the Ancestors

Roots: by Sandy Vaughn of Tonasket, Okanogan Highlands, WA, with words transformed and added by the folk process of oral tradition. Original by Sandy.

Listen to the voices of the ancestors calling

Listen to the voices of the ancestors calling

They say wake up, wake up

Listen, listen.

May the waters all run clear,

May the mountains be/go unspoiled,

May the air be clean,

May the trees grow tall,

May the Earth be shared by all.

Indigenous Foodways

There is increasing support for North American Indigenous foodways among people of indigenous ancestry and non-BIPOC allies. More than simply offering a few stereotypical recipes, such efforts aim to cultivate a deeper understanding of the present conditions, historical journey, and local cultural associations of various foods. This includes practices for tending, harvesting, and preparing for meals. Here are some folks that are engaged in this work:

North American Traditional Indigenous Food Systems FB Page

The Souix Chef: Revitalizing Native American Cuisine FB Page

Indigenous Food Lab FB Page

Native American Food Sovereignty Alliance - NAFSA FB Page

Nourish Leadership #FoodisOurMedicine @nourishhealthcare

On Indigeneity

As you consider how to approach Thanksgiving and Native American Heritage Month with children, the interview below might help inform your adult perspective on mutual belonging with a place. It may also help guide you in ways to express gratitude. Together, these understandings may provide a deeper experience and connection to the present place and people where you teach/mentor.

“Pat McCabe, also known as Woman Stands Shining, is a Diné (Navajo) mother, grandmother, activist, artist, writer, ceremonial leader and international speaker. The discussion focuses on the question of what it is to be Indigenous, and how those of us in the West can reclaim a sense of our own indigeneity.”

https://soundcloud.com/thismythiclife/pat-mccabe

Some additional resources

7 Thanksgiving Books for Kids Written From the Native Perspective By Cool Mom Picks

A collection of culturally and historically accurate Thanksgiving coloring pages for children

Tolerance.org resources

A racial justice guide to thanksgiving for educators & families

“Teaching the real story of the first thanksgiving”

Some Native American perspectives on thanksgiving (National Museum of the American Indian)

Supporting Native Indian Preschoolers and Their Families

Some additional resources specifically for young children

Teaching about Native Americans in Preschool and Kindergarten: Do’s and Don’ts

Native American Preschool Activity Teaching Resources

Books for Preschoolers by Native American Authors

While this guide is far from exhaustive, we hope it gives you some useful stepping stones. We encourage you to continue your own research and come to decisions based on the children and wider context in which you share your Thanksgiving and Native American activities and conversations.

This post is part three of three in a series, "Thanksgiving & Native American Heritage Month as Invitations”. ERAFANS staff has taken great care and sensitivity compiling this blog post in a way that honors Indigenous peoples and helps others do the same. If you have questions please feel free to contact us at programs@erafans.org

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