Thanks-TAKING as I like to call it, is not a holiday I celebrate. After all, it was the day this land was “taken” away from its original inhabitants. This day marks the beginning of the downward spiral for native americans who were first greeted with diseases from the old world. After spending several weeks volunteering at several Navajo reservations in the four corners region, I was disturbed by the elements of their surroundings in this day and age…

The lot of us had volunteered to rebuild, paint, clean up and lend a hand to raise the living conditions of this improvished group. While their lifestyles were certainly not representative of the native amercians we see in California, the depth of poverty, crime and malnourishment that infected these tribal lands was distressing. We did our best to help where possible and left knowing that we simple hadn’t done enough.

A former friend, half Sioux Indian and half Mexican American, had a history of alcoholism, violence and depression in her family. It passed from one generation to the next, each trying to overcome the shadows of the past. We didn’t teach them how to become self sufficient, nor did we provide land that could be cultivated and farmed. We stuck them in the far corners of a wasted land that had little use except as imprisonment.

So as you all eat your Turkey’s tomorrow and relish the joy that comes with having this day off work, I implore you to take a moment and think about what it means to others…what this day means to our native american brothers and sisters who may not share your appreciation of this “holiday”.

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