What’s ThanksLiving?

Turkeys are highly social, intelligent and sensitive animals. They are very affectionate and create lasting social bonds with each other.

The traditional Thanksgiving holiday has many potentially positive elements: thankfulness, food, family, and tradition. It also encourages denial about the real experiences of turkeys and Native people.

We’ve decided to change the name of Compassionate Action for Animals’ traditional celebration from “A Vegan Thanksgiving Potluck” to “A Vegan ThanksLiving Potluck” as a way to refocus our celebration on the lived experiences, and resistance to oppression, of both human and non-human animals. Our goal is to retain many of the positive elements of the traditional holiday while expanding its meaningfulness with greater knowledge and action.

We see links between the attitude that says that it’s fine to do anything to animals, and the animalization of people that has justified inflicting horrors on humans explored deeply in Aph and Syl Ko’s book Aphro-Ism and discussed in the Beyond Violence presentations of our Bridges of Respect program.

Our work throughout the year works to bring light to the experiences of turkeys and other animals exploited and killed in our food system. We’d like to share the resources below for our community to learn more about the history of interactions between European settlers and Native people as well as present-day Native issues. We believe this knowledge is a tool that can help us dismantle oppressions faced by both human and non-human animals. 

  • Native Roots Radio: This locally produced radio show covers Native, environmental, and animal issues in Minnesota and beyond. Hosts Robert and Wendy Pilot and Uncle Curtis have a great time sharing news and bringing on fascinating guests. Robert and Wendy also live stream the show on Facebook.
  • Little War on the Prairie: This recorded radio show, part of which was featured on This American Life, examines the U.S.-Dakota War, it’s roots in the fur trade’s exploitation of animals, and the pressure tactics and dishonesty of white settlers that led to the war and the largest mass hanging in US history, that of 38 Dakota men in Mankato in 1862.
  • Mni Sota Makoce: The Land of the Dakota: Drawing on oral history interviews, archival work, and painstaking comparisons of Dakota, French, and English sources, the book Mni Sota Makoce tells the detailed history of the Dakota people in their traditional homelands for at least hundreds of years prior to exile.
  • Eager: The Surprising, Secret Lives of Beavers and Why They Matter: This book talks about how the “extractive capitalism” of the fur trade profoundly harmed ecosystems in what is now the U.S. and touches on connections between settlers’ treatment of animals, land, and people. The major focus is on current successful efforts to restore habitat and the possibility that beavers may help combat climate change.
  • 1491: This book is a fascinating exploration of the Americas before Columbus and European settlement, with unexpected insights into relationships between people, land, and animals. 
  • The Oxen at the Intersection: A Collision, Or, Bill and Lou Must Die : A Real-life Murder Mystery From the Green Mountains of Vermont: Written by VINE sanctuary co-founder Pattrice Jones, this book illuminates often unseen connections between racism and animal oppression, and how a misunderstanding of America’s settler past has contributed to the continued oppression of animals.

The 17th Annual Vegan ThanksLiving Potluck will be on the Ground Floor of Coffman Memorial Union on Saturday, November 16 from 12–2:30pm. If you’d like to help out at this year’s potluck, let us know here. All are welcome and we look forward to seeing you there!

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