Native American Chicagoans Share What Thanksgiving Means To Them

CHICAGO (CBS) — November is Native American Heritage Month. It falls inside the identical month as the vacation that many Native Americans describe as a painful one.

CBS 2 Morning Insider Marissa Parra shares what Thanksgiving means to Native American Chicagoans.

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Norma Robertson sits at her desk doing conventional Native American bead work, an array of vibrant beads are scattered on her desk. She’s fastidious, centered on her subsequent challenge earlier than gesturing to the zip cowl in her palms.

“I learned this a long time ago,” mentioned the member of the Sisseton Wahpeton Tribe.

Her handwork is exact, similar to her grandma taught her.

“She said, ‘You learn how to do this, and you’ll never go hungry,” Norma mentioned.

Norma and Robert Wapahi spend time of their lounge. Native. American conventional music performs within the background. Robert quietly sketches from ft away. His paintings depicting numerous Native American folks from numerous tribal nations in numerous states and settings adorns your complete room.

This is how Norma and her companion spend their time. Crafting and creating is their means of honoring their native tradition.

“His drawings are representative of us,” she mentioned.

Ahead of Thanksgiving, Robert Wapahi makes use of his ache as gas for his artwork.

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“All this holiday season that you call your ‘season of happiness,’ that isn’t what it’s been for us. Winter season has always been a season of sadness,” mentioned Robert, a member of the Santee Tribe.

Thanksgiving is usually regarded as a time fo meals and household, however for a lot of Native Americans, Thanksgiving is a reminder of the lack of their land and their folks within the centuries that following the Mayflower’s arrival in New England.

WHen requested what they do on Thanksgiving, he mentioned they ignore it.

Native Americans make up lower than 3% of your complete metropolis, which truly nonetheless makes Chicago the third largest city native American inhabitants within the nation.

“We have the Oneida Nation flag, Choctaws, Potawatomi,” mentioned Melodi Serna, government director of the  as she pointed to flags across the middle’s auditorium. “Each one of these flags represents someone we serve or a member.

The American Indian Center has been fighting for recognition for Native American Chicagoans for years.

Illinois is one of the few states in the country that has neither federal nor state recognized Native American tribes, land or reservations.

“The lands that we are all on are native lands,” mentioned Melodi.

Melodi mentioned her personal journey surrounding Thanksgiving and subsequent steps for Native American Chicagoans has advanced from one in all anger to one in all nuanced celebration of life.

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“We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, per se. We celebrate giving thanks,” she mentioned. “The survival is what the beautiful story is. The fact that we’re still here.”


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