“Saygo”: A Native American Thanksgiving (from the archive)

(This is a re-post from the archive, Nov.22, 2008):

“Saygo,” a roughly anglicized version of the word for “greetings” in the Seneca and Ojibway languages, seems like an appropriate salutation for this Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S. Although the holiday has been almost completely overrun by the commercial interests such as Macy’s, the christmas-industrial-complex, football and the travel industry, it’s important to remember the history behind the event. This “open letter” to Senator Dodd and the people of Connecticut from Lawrence Otway, Tribal Court Judge, Golden Hill Paugeesukq, Tribal Nation is one reminder. And, Jacqueline Keeler, a member of the Dineh Nation and the Yankton Dakota Sioux, writes powerfully about the tradition of the “First Thanksgiving”:

In stories told by the Dakota people, an evil person always keeps his or her heart in a secret place separate from the body. The hero must find that secret place and destroy the heart in order to stop the evil. I see, in the “First Thanksgiving” story, a hidden Pilgrim heart. The story of that heart is the real tale than needs to be told. What did it hold? Bigotry, hatred, greed, self-righteousness? We have seen the evil that it caused in the 350 years since. Genocide, environmental devastation, poverty, world wars, racism.

Where is the hero who will destroy that heart of evil? I believe it must be each of us. Indeed, when I give thanks this Thursday and I cook my native food, I will be thinking of this hidden heart and how my ancestors survived the evil it caused. Because if we can survive, with our ability to share and to give intact, then the evil and the good will that met that Thanksgiving day in the land of the Wampanoag will have come full circle.

And the healing can begin.

Hold a good thought today that each of us can move toward that healing vision. Peace ~