Diné Artist, Lyla June on the Truth of Thanksgiving + Poem from US Poet Laureate Joy Harjo, Muscogee Nation

Today we offer more material to provoke thought and conversation during the Thanksgiving holiday. No better source than two important indigenous artists: Joy Harjo and Lyla June.

Saturday November 30, 8:30am, Retake Our Democracy with Mariel Nanasi, New Energy Economy, on KSFR 101.1 FM. The show focused on some things I had not realized about the Energy Transition Act. Mariel also offered details on why community solar and local choice energy are such important steps toward energy democracy, and why some grasstop environmental organizations seem to be on the wrong side on some critical energy bills and issues.

Roxanne and I want to wish you a restful and inspiring Thanksgiving. We need both rest and inspiration for the coming year. By this time next year, we will have elected a new President, replaced a number of DINO Democrats from the NM State Senate, and hopefully flipped the US Senate. And this weekend we should be grateful for the opportunity to achieve that future. But to achieve that future, it is time for all of us to contribute our time and resources. We will need all hands on deck.

Lyla June on The Truth of Thanksgiving

Lyla June was raised in Taos and is a descendent of Diné and Tsétsêhéstâhese (Cheyenne) lineages. I’ve met Lyla June a few times at climate rallies in and around Santa Fe. She is a deeply thoughtful, honest and inspiring speaker, poet and activist with a bright future. Her voice needs to be heard in more contexts, as she is the counterpoint to our current leadership in NM, which is pragmatic, calculating, and dissembling. To explore her thinking and work in more depth, click here to get to her website. Below is a quote from Lyla June where she uses Harriet Tubman and the underground railroad as a metaphor and how she hopes her role will be to serve as an eco-Tubman freeing those enslaved by the current economic systems.

“I am determined to become an indigenous eco-Tubman, and create an underground railroad for all those enslaved to the system, dependent on the 1% for everything they have. It is time to free the slaves by building inroads to new worlds and ways of living.”

Lyla June

In the video below, Lyla June retells the Thanksgiving myth. This might be something to share with family or to watch privately before joining others at the Thanksgiving table. But please consider offering one or both of the blessings offered in Tuesday’s post. We need to at least try to have conversations with those closest to us, and the blessings were crafted to be a subtle way of causing others to give pause and reflect upon our history and our future.

I have asked Lyla June to come on the radio show and look for that to happen soon.

A Poem by US Poet Laureate Joy Harjo

We close today’s Thanksgiving post with a poem from Joy Harjo. Harjo is an internationally renowned performer and writer of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and was named the 23rd Poet Laureate of the United States this year.

The title is actually somewhat misleading as the poem actually celebrates the community we often share around the table, much as perhaps you will do this afternoon. Harjo works miracles with words.

Perhaps the World Ends Here

Joy Harjo 

The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live.

The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table. So it has been since creation, and it will go on.

We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies teethe at the corners. They scrape their knees under it.

It is here that children are given instructions on what it means to be human. We make men at it, we make women.

At this table we gossip, recall enemies and the ghosts of lovers.

Our dreams drink coffee with us as they put their arms around our children. They laugh with us at our poor falling-down selves and as we put ourselves back together once again at the table.

This table has been a house in the rain, an umbrella in the sun.

Wars have begun and ended at this table. It is a place to hide in the shadow of terror. A place to celebrate the terrible victory.

We have given birth on this table, and have prepared our parents for burial here.

At this table we sing with joy, with sorrow. We pray of suffering and remorse. We give thanks.

Perhaps the world will end at the kitchen table, while we are laughing and crying, eating of the last sweet bite.

In solidarity,

Paul & Roxanne

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1 reply

  1. As my friends, family and retail store staff were wishing me a Happy Thanksgiving, I could only utter the words, “Happy Gratitude Day” in honor of my Wampanaog friends in Maspee, MA, whose ancestors were massacred. So many people have no idea what really happened between the pilgrims and the People of the First Light, until they heard the truth. What a thrill it was to experience someone saying “Happy Gratitude Day” back to me. Change can happen and real stories can transform the heart.

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