While many think of Thanksgiving Day as a time to eat good food, express gratitude and spend time with family, six Native American girls collaborated with Teen Vogue to set the record straight on the untold story of the national holiday.
Thanksgiving is a gruesome holiday that initially celebrated the killings of indigenous tribesmen. The young girls, all sitting behind a table set with traditional Thanksgiving dishes, explain the horrific history, but also share why they are thankful, too.
In the year 1863, Abraham Lincoln issued a presidential proclamation to make Thanksgiving a national holiday. Prior to the declaration, which set the holiday on the last Thursday of every November, Thanksgiving was celebrated across all states on several different dates. The intention for Thanksgiving was to establish a sense of unification between northern and southern states since the country was in the midst of a civil war.
However, as the girls in the video explained, Lincoln ordered the execution of of Native Americans. They mentioned the "Dakota 38," the largest mass execution on U.S. soil, where 38 men from the Dakota tribe were murdered. They were hanged on Dec. 26, 1862 — the day after Christmas.
Despite this history, these girls are still thankful for one thing: retaining their Native American culture with pride.
"I'm thankful that our elders kept our culture alive for all these years," one said.