Thanksgiving is a holiday that is enjoyed by many Americans, but to some it is controversial.
An article in the Independent argued that children dressing up in Native American costumes makes equality harder for certain tribes.
“These inaccurate historical references are perpetrated each year, making the battle for equality and accurate representation an ongoing one for Native Americans in America,” the article reads.
The article also quoted professor Robert Jensen from the University of Texas at Austin, who said that Thanksgiving should be a time to fast.
“One indication of moral progress in the United States would be the replacement of Thanksgiving Day and its self-indulgent family feasting with a National Day of Atonement accompanied by a self-reflective collective fasting,” he is quoted as saying.
Some professors at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette say they believe the holiday can be contentious as well.
“So right now, I have a 4-year-old who is in pre-k, and I’m starting to think about this a lot more,” anthropology professor at UL Lafayette Jane Managan, Ph.D., said. “I see the way that they celebrate it, and what he’s being taught about Thanksgiving and that is more where I feel I need to intervene.”
Managan then gave an example of what her child is being taught.
“Whenever he was at preschool in Baton Rouge, they had them make Indian headdresses, and it’s just like the little cardboard and stuff, but still it’s a very progressive daycare/preschool in Baton Rouge, and it disturbed me that that’s what they were teaching children,” she said.
Although Managan does not agree with the idea of fasting instead of celebrating it, she does want her child to be taught an inaccurate history.
“I’m not sure about that. The tactic that I have been taking instead of necessarily fasting is, again, I don’t always do a meal that’s in any way special for Thanksgiving, but with my kid, for instance, I know he’s getting this other narrative and I went on Amazon and looked up books and googled what are alternative ways of approaching this story,” she said.
Students at UL Lafayette also commented that the holiday can be controversial.
“Only because of historical events. I mean, I don’t really place any emphasis on the controversial aspect of it, but a lot of people do,” Jarvis Landry, a nursing major, said.
However, other people at UL Lafayette said they believe that Thanksgiving should not be disputed as it is a time to be grateful.
“Almost everything today seems to be controversial, but I don't think this holiday should be controversial,” American history professor Carl Richard, Ph.D, said. “It provides people of many different faiths with the opportunity to express their gratitude to God, and even atheists and agnostics can take the opportunity to express gratitude to others,”
However, Richard said he thinks wearing Native American costumes is inappropriate.
“Any appropriation should be respectful, not defamatory,” Richard said. “To wear pseudo-Native American clothing derived from bad westerns and engage in the stereotypical behaviors of Native Americans derived from those bad films is defamatory, not celebratory. It is in bad taste, and while bad taste can never and will never be eliminated by law, it should be discouraged by decent people.”