Like so many Americans, I love Thanksgiving. Taking the opportunity to hit pause and reflect with gratitude on all the positive things in life, makes for a transformative and memorable holiday.
What many of us don’t realize is that the Friday after Thanksgiving is followed by another powerful day of remembrance… Native American Heritage Day.
This special day encourages us to explore the incredibly rich culture and history of the First Peoples and consider the underlying reason for Thanksgiving. The very essence of this beloved holiday rests on the contributions of our Native American neighbors. The hospitality, kindness, and invaluable knowledge they shared with exhausted and malnourished European visitors saved countless lives.
The actions of the First Peoples in their encounter with Europeans serves as a precious example of how we should always treat each other with unwavering respect, love, and empathy.
But Native American Heritage Day also encourages us to do something else…
The struggle for awareness of many First Peoples is ongoing, with many fighting for the right to live in a way that honors their languages and sacred traditions. We can help to right wrongs by bringing our energy and awareness to this significant day, and spreading the word to family and friends.
The cultures of many First Nations rests on beautiful songs, poems, stories, and food that are made to be shared.
Here are three things you can do to embrace, share and celebrate Native American Heritage Day:
1) A Soul-warming Recipe for Choctaw Cornbread
Many of us may not realize that cornbread has Native American origins. In my house, cornbread is one of those dishes that nourishes the belly and the soul. It’s a rare day when a single piece is left lonesome on the tray.
Corn is a sacred staple for Native Americans. Among the Choctaw, corn is known as one of the “Three Sisters,” because it is planted together with squash and beans.
One Choctaw legend tells of the Ohoyo Osh Chisba, or the unknown woman who gifted corn to the Choctaw people. In the story, two hungry hunters were sitting by a riverbed, contemplating their scanty, unappetizing meal. A luminous woman appeared, bearing flowers symbolizing all their loved ones who had passed.
The hunters approached her with reverence and offered her their food. She gratefully accepted a portion, and as thanks, told them to return to the mound where she was standing at the next midsummer moon. On their return, an unfamiliar plant had sprouted. This plant was corn, and was prized and revered by the Choctaw people, and eaten with gratitude from that day onwards.
Share in this gratitude with this delicious and simple recipe you can make at home, adjust to suit your taste buds, and savor with those whom you love.
- 1 ¼ cups all purpose white or whole-wheat flour
- 1 cup yellow cornmeal
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 ¼ cup milk, or unsweetened almond milk for a plant-based alternative
- ⅓ cup canola oil or applesauce
- Preheat the oven to 400 °F and lightly grease an 8” x 8” pan.
- In a large bowl, stir the flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, and baking powder.
- Slowly pour in the almond milk and canola oil. Mix gently until well combined.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick or skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
If you’d like to add a little extra pizzazz to your cornbread, stir in your favourite spice while combining the dry ingredients, or mix in some chunky corn kernels to the wet batter before pouring into the tin.
2) Words of Wisdom
When I’m in need of uplifting words, I often find solace in the profound teachings of Native American poets, writers, and storytellers. Their perspectives are imbued with enduring wisdom, teaching us that we must live harmoniously with each other and the natural world around us.
One of the most precious texts I have come across in my travels is a prophecy made by the Oraibi Elders of the Arizona Hopi Nation, entitled “We Are the Ones We’ve Been Waiting For.” These words leave me in a state of awe and reverence.
It’s my heartfelt belief that this prophecy can help guide us as we transition to a place of higher consciousness — in other words, it is perfect for the moment we are living through now.
Share this powerful text with friends and family, and speak it aloud if you can — Native American stories and prophecies were designed to be shared through the spoken word.
We Are the Ones We’ve Been Waiting For
You have been telling people that this is the eleventh hour.
Now you must go back and tell people that this is the hour!
And there are things to be considered:
Where are you living?
What are you doing?
What are your relationships?
Are you in right relation?
Where is your water?
Know your garden.
It is time to speak your truth.
Create your community.
Be good to yourself.
And not look outside of yourself for a leader.
This could be a good time!
There is a river flowing very fast.
It is so great and fast that there are those who will be afraid.
They will hold on to the shore.
They will feel that they are being torn apart, and they will suffer greatly.
Know that the river has its destination.
The elders say that we must let go of the shore,
push off into the middle of the river,
keep our eyes open,
and our heads above the water.
See who is in there with you and celebrate.
At this time we are to take nothing personally, least of all, ourselves.
For the moment that we do, our spiritual growth comes to a halt.
The time of the lone wolf is over.
Banish the word struggle from your attitude and your vocabulary.
All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.
We are the ones that we have been waiting for.
–Oraibi Elders of the Arizona Hopi Nation
3) The Unsung Secret of Thanksgiving
If you’d like to dive deeper into the essence that underlies Thanksgiving, and contemplate what the kindness of the First Peoples really teaches us, you might like to read this heartfelt piece I wrote several years back.
Thanksgiving should be a time of gratitude, and remembrance. But it should also be a time to reflect on how our Native American neighbors modeled respect, love, and care for others, and practice applying this in our own lives.
We need to open ourselves to the wisdom of Native Americans to bring our lives back into alignment. Native American Heritage Day offers us a chance to do that.
Practice stepping away from the daily grind today. Instead, work on cultivating more consciousness and compassion in your interactions with others and with yourself!
Host of Proven: Healing Breakthroughs Backed By Science
& Founder of The Sacred Science