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A Nomad Thanksgiving

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What is Thanksgiving really about?

Well, it is another Nomad Thanksgiving day for me. And while my American brothers and sisters are busy being grateful for Butterballs, the NFL, and $100 Sony TVs on Black Friday, I sit here, alone in the forest, and contemplate gratitude. Do I have a right to feel grateful for having this gorgeous forest camp all to myself? For the sky and the trees and the crunchy autumn leaves?

My mind returns to the remembrance of a tweet from a man of the Cherokee Nation after “Nomadland” came out. “Nomadland is literally a film that wistfully celebrates how white people have ability to become ‘free’ in land evacuated of Indigenous peoples.” he wrote.

My immediate gut reaction was to deny his interpretation. Yet, months after reading this tweet, it has stuck with me. Is it true?

Yeah, it kind of is…

Today, I will give in to that truth.

Today, I acknowledge how privileged I am to live life the way I do; to walk once-sacred grounds, to be one with the trees, the birds, the sky, to feel as though I have a right to this public land, and this life that was stripped away from others.

Original Nomad Life

Nomading is not new. First Nation people have been nomads for tens of thousands of years. The Arapaho, Blackfoot, Cheyenne, and other Plains tribes followed the Buffalo and lived in Tipis. We tend to forget this fact and instead, self-righteously believe we are the pioneers of modern-day America. Boldly shunning a world we do not fit in, do not want, and did not ask for. Sure, in that way we have much in common with the Indigenous Peoples.

But in reality, we could not be more different. Colonialism, war, assimilation, broken treaties, and time have made me the de-facto beneficiary of something lost–no, that’s too easy–something stolen.

So what is Thanksgiving supposed to mean for non-native Americans then? I really don’t know. But I can not just celebrate the day without recognizing this truth.

Let today be humbling.

Today, I will give thanks to the people, the culture, the way of life that was lost so that I could have the life I do.  

Today I will be thankful to our mother Earth, the provider of all life.   

Today, I will prepare my camp for rain and wonder what it would have been like living in a tipi during the rain. 

I will make a meal and imagine the same ingredients: sweet potato, corn, and onions picked from a garden or field from the tribal camp.

I will contemplate my fortune and my privilege, paying homage to the brave warriors(Dahnawa Danatlihi in Cherokee), mothers(Okasu in Algonquian), and children(wah-ky-yeh-ja in Lakota- literally meaning “sacred gift”) who should be here, celebrating this glorious day alongside me. 

DISCLAIMER: Carolyn’s RV Life and Carolyn Higgins share her experiences, thoughts, opinions and ideas in this blog post and on this website for entertainment purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, instruction or guidance. Viewers/Readers should consult with professionals before pursing any actions or behaviors exhibited in this video. Carolyn’s RV Life or Carolyn Higgins cannot be held liable in the event of any accident or injury that may occur as a result of application of procedures and information provided in this video.

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14 Responses

  1. Love this tribute to indigenous people of this land that was stolen from them & enslaved them, so much knowledge has been lost, with true healing, & way of live in harmony with the universe, thank you Carol

  2. And I wish you a thoughtful day full of your own thankfulness. Be thankful for whatever you feel you need to be thankful for.

    I’m wondering how long this will be a holiday given it’s beginnings….but hopefull it will remain a day of contemplation for what we give and what we can give to others.

    That being said, I’m tired of the cooking prep! Just give me a plate and be done with it. Vegan, gluten free is challenging especially mixing with meat eaters. But, I’m learning new recipes and little changes here and there work.
    So, cornish hens for the meat eaters and meatless meatballs in the air fryer for others….mushroom gravy for all!
    Have a lovely day where ever you are.

  3. Your post about Thanksgiving hit a nerve. Recently I’ve been reading & thinking about the treatment of indigenous people here & in other countries. At least one of my direct ancestors was given a large parcel to settle in Kentucky after the Revolutionary War….another obtained Cherokee land when that tribe was forcefully moved. It’s painful to realize much of my history comes from destroying lives & cultures of American Indians. Thank you for the thought provoking post.

    1. I’m sorry to hear that this hit so close to home with you and that you have family history of the atrocities committed. thank you for reading .

  4. Carolyn,
    You share my heart dear sister. My teacher, a student and Dance Chief of Beautiful Painted Arrow, taught those of us who sat under her teachings that those of us who find one another in this lifetime used to be in tribe together many moons and lifetimes ago. I believe this teaching.

    I don’t know a lot about my heritage as my mother was adopted at age two and her records were sealed and now lost. I do know I am a caucasian looking but my heart pants after the sky beings, Lightning, Thunder, and Rain, and the earth beings, Standing People, Rivers, and grasslands, and all the many creatures that share this land together.

    I am grateful to live in the most beautiful of enchanted places in the lower 48, the Olympic Peninsula of the Pacific Northwest! It is old, and holds the mysteries of its original people, the Quileute, Elwha, Hoh, Quinalt, Makah, and others. I haven’t felt welcome here by the people I grew to love over the 14 years sitting under the tutelage of my teacher, Hasie One Heart, but I honor all people just the same. They are my brothers and sisters just like the air and the sun and earth.

    I sit with you in the silence…in the trees…in the Great Mystery my dear friend. And, I wish you and Sadie the most deeply enchanted Thanksgiving, sending you much love and understanding.

    As always…YOU ROCK!
    Cloud Woman
    (Kathryn Kenyon)

  5. So thoughtful and considerate. We need more of this in our modern society.I have followed your travels from your beginning on UT. Thank you.

  6. You are a thinker with poetry in your heart. I used to watch your videos to get to know about your nomad lifestyle. But now, I’m mainly here for the stories and musings. A happy thanksgiving day to you, Carolyn.

  7. Thanks for Sharing Carolyn.
    I really enjoyed your words.
    Sending much love and good vibes from Quebec, Canada.

    Soon to be Future Nomads- Cabeto, Alex and our furry companions Borat & Cado.

  8. For now, and maybe possibly my only way, I live vicariously through you. Time is passing me by as I am approaching the end of #80. I still have hope to live, again, as you do, but another needs me to be still. Thank you for the reminder of what we have and how we got it. Love, s/Terry in Wilsonville OR

  9. My goodness, Carolyn. How eloquent you’ve communicated a truth, many of us forget to acknowledge. Thank you for sharing your words, your perspective, the wisdom of your being a contemporary nomad. The quote from the brave Cherokee Indian after “Nomadland,” hit me in my gut, reminded me of the truth that is no longer acknowledged, except in a few statements in a school history book.
    Blessings to you and Sadie. And thank you for all that you do, for all of us out here, still sitting on the couch and for those who have taken the leap of courage into the unknown, living a life of selected freedom.

  10. Wishing you the happiest of holidays and nomadic adventures.
    The forest is my happy place, where I seem to always find the peace I need.
    I will think of the indigenous people on my future nature/meditation walks and be grateful to them. Thank you for opening my mind (again & again).

    As always, love to you and Sadie.


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