Every November, I get asked an unfortunate, loaded question: “You’re a Native American—what do you eat on Thanksgiving?” My answer spans my lifetime.
I was born and raised on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota in the 1970s and am a member of the Oglala Lakota Sioux Tribe. Growing up, I went to a very small country school on the reservation, in the poorest county in the United States. Our school had predominantly Native students, but we were still taught what everybody was about Thanksgiving: It represented a time when “pilgrims and Indians” celebrated together, and it was about being thankful. Only later would we find out that it was a lie.
But as I was taught this story, my family gathered on Thanksgiving at my grandparent’s ranch, where we held a huge feast of very typical recipes, most of them straight out of a circa-‘60s Betty Crocker cookbook.