Yup’ik woman plans to celebrate ‘Truthsgiving’ on Thursday

Yup’ik woman plans to celebrate ‘Truthsgiving’ on Thursday
Published: Nov. 23, 2022 at 8:54 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Eagle River resident Kelsey Ciugun Wallace is planning the menu for Thursday, a turkey with the fixings but also moose meat and dried fish, maybe with seal oil. It’s a blend of traditional holiday foods and traditional Native foods to celebrate Wallace’s Yup’ik heritage.

Wallace plans to spend the day with family, including her two young children. She said they’ll likely have a conversation about the day she sometimes refers to as “Truthsgiving.”

“Truthsgiving, to myself and my immediate family, means creating these healthy spaces with our kids, even at a young age, to share with them the truth about the history of Thanksgiving,” she said.

“The history that we’ve been taught is that this was a time of celebration, that the two groups of people came together and celebrated in a good way,” she said. “And something that is completely missed over, is not touched on, or is shared incorrectly, is the fact that there was a lot of violence that occurred around Thanksgiving.”

In reality, Wallace said, Native people were exploited and oppressed by the colonists who came to their land and took their food. Being able to acknowledge that is important, although sometimes uncomfortable to talk about, she said.

“It’s not to create further divisiveness, it’s not to pit people against each other, but instead, to create the shared understanding that it’s OK to talk about the true histories,” Wallace said.

Wallace has been sharing her Native pride on TikTok videos, some of which have become wildly popular. Recently, a video she did suggesting positive things people can do on Thanksgiving to honor Native Americans, struck a chord with a reporter from the Good Morning America show.

“I was just randomly checking my email and had an email from Good Morning America asking if I would be willing to do an interview,” she said.

Wallace was one of several Indigenous people interviewed by Zoom Tuesday for the national show to give their perspective on the holiday.

She said she wants people to learn the facts but also to be positive moving forward.

“We still have an incredible opportunity to celebrate … our resiliency, our cultures, and our people and our neighbors. But also, to elevate and illuminate the truth in a good way.”