Back in September, a family friend, Tomas, who is from the Acoma Pueblo, invited us to visit him for their feast day. Acoma Pueblo stands at the top of a three hundred sixty-seven foot sandstone bluff. Pueblo people estimate they’ve lived in the area for over two thousand years, and Acoma Pueblo is considered the oldest continuously inhabited community in North America.
I took the boys out of school early, and we drove to the Pueblo to watch the dancers. They dressed in traditional attire and different groups of dancers—young and old—gathered in the plaza and danced to the rhythm of the drums, which vibrated throughout the Pueblo. Tomas invited us for lunch, and we ate watermelon, frito pie, and cake.
The boys witnessed how his family lives without electricity or running water still today. They met his extended family of brothers and cousins and other relatives. They saw the small room where several members of his family spend the night sleeping on the floor. There is no shame in this; it’s how life is navigated and embraced.
As we were about to leave, Tomas showed us the church that stands on top of the sacred site of the people’s original homes, which were destroyed by the Spanish. It’s a humbling experience to have a Native person tell you to your face how your ancestors killed their ancestors, set fire to their homes, committed countless other atrocities, and forever changed how their people would live in the world.
This Thanksgiving Day, I’m thankful for Tomas’s friendship and his generosity in letting us peek inside his life on the Pueblo. I’m grateful for the Water Protectors in North Dakota fighting for all of our right to clean, safe drinking water. And, I’m thankful the boys will grow up knowing Natives are real people—not pictures in history books—with struggles and joys, who continue their traditions and maintain their culture.
What makes you thankful today?