‘Colonization never ended, it just became normalized': Is BLM Thanksgiving post right?
- Black Lives Matter (BLM) was established in 2013 in response to the Trayvon Martin case (2012). It operates under the premise of “eradicating white supremacy, building power against violence, and creating space for Black innovation.”
- On Thanksgiving Day, November 25, 2021, Black Lives Matter tweeted, “You are eating dry turkey and overcooked stuffing on stolen land” with a post “You are on stolen land. Colonization never ended, it just became normalized.”
- Before Christopher Columbus “kicked off centuries of exploration and exploitation” in the Americas, Historians believe the “land bridge” between Asia and Alaska is likely how indigenous populations arrived on the North and South American continent over 12,000 years ago.
- America was officially founded on July 4, 1776 with the approval of the Declaration of Independence that separated the 13 North American British colonies from Great Britain.
BLM was right with their post on Thanksgiving, which claimed 'Colonization never ended, it just became normalized.' Normalizing the colonization of America began from an early stage. Addressing Congress in 1825, then-President Monroe claimed, 'The removal of the tribes from the territory which they now inhabit…promote(s) their welfare and happiness.' This attitude was written into law five years later as the Indian Removal Act under President Andrew Jackson. The act forced Native Americans to leave their lands and settle in the west, leading to massacres and the Trail of Tears. Educators argue these parts of history go overlooked in schools.
The US controls the colonization narrative so completely that they often break their treaties with Natives with no consequence. This was most recently seen during the controversy over the Dakota Access Pipeline. Not only does the pipeline not honor the Fort Laramie Treaty, but it prioritizes non-indigenous health. Controlling the narrative also means the US dictates official tribe status, often denying rights and recognitions to Native Tribes. When a tribe lacks sovereignty, it makes working within the judicial framework of their colonizers all but impossible—effectively erasing them from any discourse.
It is said history is written by the victors. After the US successfully dismantled and erased Indigenous lives and traditions in the 19th century, the men who contributed to this erasure became national heroes throughout the culture. Their monuments litter the country. Holidays were named in their honor. We even put them on our money. All the while, we ignore the accurate portrayal of our history. This behavior is the very definition of normalizing colonization.
Black Lives Matter decreed on Thanksgiving of 2021 that it was a day of 'colonization,' saying Americans were eating their Thanksgiving food on 'stolen land.' Unfortunately for BLM, divisiveness and historical inaccuracy seems to be their strong suit.
Colonization—the conquering and settling of other lands—has existed for as long as humans have walked the earth. Before the European colonies, there were the Roman, Greek, Egyptian, Assyrian, Babylonian, Mayan, and Aztec empires. Each of these forcefully expanded their reach and control over miles of land and millions of inhabitants. These empires not only enslaved, including Native American tribes being slaveholders of African Americans, but practiced human sacrificing, as the Aztecs did. No American colony ever sacrificed natives as a religious practice and European countries may have been more proficient at making lasting settlements, but they did not invent the practice.
Human conquest has existed for centuries and is not a result of 'white supremacy.' Native American tribes are not monolithic—they are not one entity. The Navajo, Pueblo, Apache, Hopis, Zunis, Piros, Tewas and others all fought to claim and control land long before European settlers arrived. This is not to excuse or minimize the impact of human colonization but to recognize the historical regularity of it.
The Indian Self-Determination Act of 1975 restored some sovereignty to tribal governments. Further, the Supreme Court in 1987 determined that states cannot regulate Native American gaming enterprises, which led to the framework that allows for Native American-run casinos.
In this day and age, the obvious must be stated: The United States has been and remains the freest nation in the history of the world. History should be contextualized, teaching all the good, the bad, and the ugly of all groups. Despite all her blemishes, America's good far outweighs the bad.