As “Thanksgiving” Nears 400, Unitarians Seek “To Make Peace With Our Past”

Just as the year 1992 was controversial, marking the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ voyage, so we will be coming up on a new series of controversial anniversaries. In 2021, many people will celebrate the 400th anniversary of the first “Thanksgiving feast.”

The question is: How do we remember and acknowledge these significant dates? Do we hold onto our cherished myths, or do we look at these as opportunities to embrace our higher selves and acknowledge our painful past?

The Unitarian Universalists already are taking on that question. At their upcoming General Assembly, June 22-26 in Columbus, Ohio, they will consider a resolution to reconsider what “Thanksgiving Day” means, and reflect on the broader issues of colonialism and its brutal impact on indigenous peoples. The resolution reads in part:

WHEREAS the year 2020 marks the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the ship “Mayflower” in the region that is now known as New England; and …
WHEREAS several of the New England congregations that were established during the 1600s continue today as Unitarian Universalist congregations; and NOTING the role of Unitarian Universalists in developing the holiday that is known as “the American Thanksgiving Day”; …

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that this General Assembly encourages all Unitarian Universalists to enter a time of education, careful reflection, and healing, for the years 2016-2021. We ask that special attention be given to the suffering, indignity, and loss that native peoples have suffered since the early 1600s.

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