'This is not our land': Students pen editorial on 'dark origins' of Thanksgiving

The Brown and White Editorial Board published a piece critical of traditional celebrations of the Thanksgiving holiday.

The editorial also critiques Lehigh University for not having a 'Land Acknowledgement,' which has become more popular among American colleges.

A student publication at Lehigh University called The Brown and White published an article in early November titled “This is not our land,” calling to attention the so-called “dark history” of Thanksgiving. 

“This is not our land” is an editorial from Lehigh University’s student publication, The Brown and White, that reminds readers that Americans “reside on stolen land after colonizers - many of whom could potentially be our ancestors- took advantage of the indigneous people and claimed this land as our own.”

“English settlers threatened, killed and abused the Native Americans to build a ‘New World’ that was already their own”, the article writes. 

Campus Reform spoke with Marietta Sisca, president of the Leigh University College Republicans, about balancing the importance of learning history and commemorating the holiday.

“[The editorial] comes from a place of good intention, but the execution of what they’re trying to say comes off a little strange to me,” Sisca said.

“And while I think that, yes, it is always important that we learn our history, lest we be doomed to repeat it,” Sisca continued, “there is also a tolerance in the article where they’re trying to shift blame onto people in the modern day for what happened centuries ago.”

[RELATED: Leftist Thanksgiving event asked students ‘what America should do in place of this celebration’]

She added that “blaming people today for the atrocities that were committed hundreds and hundreds of years ago” was “counter-productive.” 

The editorial claims that Lehigh, which is a private institution located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, may reside on territory that used to belong to the Lenni-Lenape people. 

While Lehigh has not made an official statement acknowledging or affirming this, it is a trend that is being seen across the country.

Princeton University, located in New Jersey, issued a statement recognizing their presence on the former Lenni-Lenape territory. 

”The Land on which Princeton University stands is part of the ancient homeland and traditional territory of the Lenape people. We pay respect to Lenape peoples past, present, and future and their continuing presence in the homeland and throughout the Lenape diaspora,” the statement reads. 

At the University of Oregon, a land acknowledgement pays tribute to the Kalapuya people. The statement was read at the start of a virtual event held last week titled “Thanks, but No Thanks-giving: Decolonizing an American Holiday.”

[RELATED: UIC places Native American land acknowledgements around campus]

The Brown and White editors noted the lack of acknowledgement from the university, leaving them to speculate about the origins of their history.

“With no land acknowledgement of our own, we only wonder if Lehigh was built upon Lenape land. The odds are high that this land is not ours, yet we’re still left clueless about the history,” they wrote. 

The authors do recognize that the holiday can be considered a day to be thankful and enjoy the company of loved ones, but they persist that the holiday remains tainted with “dark origins.”

“The damage done over the past three centuries has generated lasting effects on the indigenous people who are still here,” the editorial further stated. 

Sisca maintains that this mindset is not productive.

“It’s important that [we] learn our history and acknowledge our history, but that doesn’t mean that we have to cancel Thanksgiving or stop celebrating what we have to be thankful for, especially after the difficult past two years that we have had,” she said. “Learning of history should be a year-round endeavor and not just the topic of conversation every time a major holiday pops up.”

Campus Reform reached out to “The Brown and White” and Lehigh University for comment. The article will be updated accordingly.