So last Thanksgiving I showed my wife an email from someone who is protesting the white man’s treatment of Native Americans by not cooking a turkey. It said beef, pork or lamb or chicken are alternatives to turkey. It recommended tamales too. Turkey, according to the email, is symbolic of colonial oppression. Don’t eat turkey.
My wife, a Yankton Sioux (and half Oneida) said she thought turkeys were a North American bird. I said they were. I also mentioned that Christopher Columbus had brought the first cattle, pigs, sheep and chickens to America (which he did, on the second voyage, in 1493). I’m a gold mine of historical trivia, which she tolerates. So how is it that eating something that Indians already ate is oppression, she asked, while eating something brought by Columbus is protesting oppression? I shrugged. My mother (a full blooded Oneida) cooked turkey for Thanksgiving every year, she said. We didn’t think it was oppression. Well you were Indians, I said, so it wouldn’t be. We didn’t celebrate Columbus Day, though. I said that was understandable. No white men discovered us, she said. I agreed. I think that goes along with why we’re not supposed to eat turkey for Thanksgiving. Then why not eat venison, she said. You mean shooting a deer? She said sure, why not, venison is delicious. Indians ate venison. We ate venison. Dad killed a deer or two every year and we ate lots of venison. Ducks, too. I said I doubt anyone protesting eating a turkey would suit up to go hunting. They probably don’t even have a hunting rifle, I said, or belong to the NRA. She sneered. My father went hunting every season, she said. He had several rifles, a shotgun, an NRA membership, and was a full blooded Sioux. I changed the subject. How about fish? I asked, fish is nice. She said no one eats fish for Thanksgiving. I said I think they had fish at the first Thanksgiving. And oysters. And corn. I’m not giving up corn, she said. OK, so how about a Vegan thanksgiving then? She gave me the Sioux death stare. Indians ate Vegans for breakfast, she said, cooked over a slow fire.
I’m gonna go pick up the turkey, I said.