How I Celebrate: A Native Thanksgiving

How I Celebrate: A Native Thanksgiving November 18, 2015

Fresh pumpkin soup and vegetables
iStock – Karissa

Thanksgiving is a time of reflection, family and faith. Typically centered around a shared meal, fellowshipping is the central focus of the holiday. For Turtle Clan Mohawk Native Danny Beaton, Thanksgiving is a time of spiritual connectivity and praise. 

Deily: Thanksgiving is an important holiday for Native Americans. For your culture, what is the purpose behind celebrating the holiday?

Danny Beaton: As Native people we are a culture of ceremonies. That’s really where our human make up is: in our relationship to the Natural World, the Universe, the Cosmos and our respect and love for Mother Earth as she gives us human beings so many gifts. We are a culture of healing because there is a feeling of peace and healing from living a respectful life in harmony while giving thanks to Creation around us.

Deily: What does a Native American Thanksgiving ceremony look like?
DB: In our Thanksgiving ceremonies, we first honor everything on Mother Earth that is moving: all plant life and vegetation, trees, plants, corn, beans, squash, tobacco, sage, cedar, etc. Then, we honor our relatives the four legged, winged ones, insects and fish life.

Deily: What significance does the earth have in a Native Thanksgiving ceremony?
DB: We honor the sacred drink that our Mother Earth gives us humans –– her Blood. Her Blood, includes the rivers, lakes, streams and great oceans. Then we give thanks to everything moving in the sky Brother Sun, Grandmother Moon, and the four winds/air.

Deily: What spiritual importance does the sky have?
DB: Our ancestors say we came from the Stars and we fell from the Sky. At night, we see the beautiful pictures in the sky, known as the Stars. We consequently give thanks to everything that moves in the sky including the invisible. We especially give thanks to Our Great Creator because our Creator is not just a Creator he is a Great Creator. We are also taught by our ancestors to give thanks to the Spirit World, which holds the Spirit of our ancestors and spirit forces. Then we give thanks to the four protectors who have the duty to protect us.

Deily: What role do Natives play in the honoring of the world around them?
DB: Our people understand and are taught that everything has a duty and all of Creation has a duty just as we Human Beings were instructed that our duty on Mother Earth would be to give Thanksgiving.

Deily: What else can you tell us about a Native American Thanksgiving?
DB: This is all I want to say at this time, but I want to thank you for listening and thank you for asking me to share our love and respect for our Great Creator who is also know as the Great Spirit or the Great Mystery and for letting our people share the Thanksgiving to our Sacred Mother Earth.

Danny Beaton is part of the Mohawk Six Nations Turtle Clan and lives in Ontario, Canada. Learn more about Native American culture and spirituality on Deily.


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