November Word of the Month

I grew up in a very white world. I recently realized that Thanksgiving is a white male Christian holiday. I understand why Native Americans choose not to celebrate it, especially with their entire culture reduced to a cartoonish sidekick role. Followed by lots of hate and bitterness and war. So our word for this month is marginalized.

110719 cartoon figures


verb (used with object), mar·gin·al·ized, mar·gin·al·iz·ing.

to place in a position of marginal importance, influence, or power:

the government’s attempts to marginalize criticism and restore public confidence.


1825–35 for an earlier sense; marginal + -ize

110719 america born on my land


demean, deprecate, criticize, disparage, diminish, belittle, depreciate, dismiss, abuse, smear, vilify, defame, discount

As would happen, in the years following the celebration, more and more colonists came to find religious freedom and land in the New World. They discounted and deprecated the natives because the tribes didn’t do things the way the Europeans did. Meanwhile, the infections that the colonists were immune to reduced the native populations by as much as 90%.

110719 genocide that follows

Without due process or trial, a few men working for leader Metacomet were executed as suspected murderers of a European. This sparked raids on the New England Confederation of Colonies. Can you imagine today going into another country, setting up your own rules and laws, and not being seen as the bad guys through history?

You could say we got off to a bad start, but any chances we had to make things better were actually used to make things worse. The Trail of Tears, Little Big Horn, Bull Run, Wounded Knee, and so many more in the War of Extermination.

110719 dave the potter

America as a culture is talking over reparation for slaves’ descendants, a social justice issue that confuses people. If you think of how much was lost through death and slavery, both in earning power, ideas, creativity, inventions, etc., we all suffered this loss. Reparation is only a small gesture after all.

Imagine reparation to Native Americans for all that they have lost to Colonists? At the moment a program called Native American Grave Protection and Repatriation is at least making sure sacred items are returned from museums. There is not a part of North America not touched by Native American lives and ways. We should be thankful that this has not yet become a reality.

110719 squanto

Celebrate whatever you embrace and love. I know I will be gathering with friends and family and eating the usual traditional fare. But I will share thanks for the indigenous people of my country who shaped so much of it and left us with stories, legends, and the Great Spirit to guide us.

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