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Unthanksgiving Day – November 24, 2022

Unthanksgiving Day, also known as National Day of Mourning or Indigenous Peoples Sunrise Ceremony, is commemorated on the fourth Thursday in November. This year, it takes place on November 24. This annual event takes place on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay to honor the indigenous peoples of America and promote their rights. Did you know that this day coincides with Thanksgiving Day? Yes, organizers chose the fourth Thursday of November with an intent to coincide with Thanksgiving Day.

History of Unthanksgiving Day

Most of us are aware of the Thanksgiving Day that falls on the fourth Thursday of November every year. However, not many of us know about the Unthanksgiving Day that falls on the same day. It also coincides with the National Day of Mourning in Massachusetts.

This day is seen as a counter-celebration to Thanksgiving Day designed to honor the Native Americans and promote their rights. It recalls indigenous people’s survival following European colonization of the Americas and celebrates their perseverance and resistance over time.

The history of Unthanksgiving Day is an interesting one. Indigenous people began seeking to reclaim Alcatraz Island shortly after the prison was closed in 1963. On November 20, 1969, a group of Native Americans occupied the island of Alcatraz in San Francisco which lasted for 19 months. The Treaty of Fort Laramie/Sioux Treaty of 1868 was used to claim the island.

During this period of 19 months, several indigenous Americans joined the civil rights movement and expressed their concerns, until they were forcefully removed by the United States Government on June 11, 1971.

The International Treaty Council and American Indian Contemporary Arts together hosted the first Unthanksgiving Day on November 27, 1975. The organizers picked Thanksgiving Day to commemorate Unthanksgiving Day in order to remind people of the losses that Indians had to endure as a result of Europeans. Today, Alcatraz Island is open to the public and tourists visit it regularly to watch the sunrise, speak for indigenous rights, and to celebrate their heritage.

Unthanksgiving Day timeline

1868
The Treaty of Fort Laramie

The Treaty of Fort Laramie is signed by the U.S.

1969
The Occupation of Alcatraz Island

Native Americans begin to occupy Alcatraz Island.

1971
The Removal of Native Americans

The occupation of Alcatraz Island is ended by the U.S.

1975
The First Unthanksgiving Day

The International Treaty Council and American Indian Contemporary Arts organize the first Unthanksgiving Day.

Unthanksgiving Day FAQs

Where do Native Indians come from?

The ancestors of the living Native Americans arrived in America from Asia 15,000 years ago.

Why do we call Native Americans Indians?

During the 15th century when Christopher Columbus landed on the American continent, he thought he landed in India. So, he referred to the indigenous tribes as Native Indians, and that struck on.

What are the main indigenous groups in the Americas?

According to the U.S. government, there are two main indigenous groups in the U.S. They are Native Americans and Alaska Natives.

How to Observe Unthanksgiving Day

  1. Support their voices

    Supporting native people's voices and rights is a great way to remember this day. You can also contribute to their cause in any way you can.

  2. Spread awareness

    The suffering endured by the indigenous people cannot be expressed in words and is not known to many people. You can use this day to help others understand their history and sufferings.

  3. Visit Alcatraz

    You can visit Alcatraz Island on Unthanksgiving Day. Join thousands of people there to mourn for the fallen native people and can also take part in the celebrations.

5 Mind-Blowing Facts About Indigenous Peoples

  1. There were female warriors

    Apart from supporting their male counterparts by cooking, sewing, and taking care of camp, they also rode and fought alongside men.

  2. Teepees and other houses

    Unlike what we see in the movies, Indian Tribes not only lived in teepees, they also lived in longhouses and pueblos.

  3. 2% of the population

    As of 2019, 2% of the U.S. population identifies as American Indians or Alaska natives.

  4. 574 is the number

    As of January 2021, there are 574 federally recognized American Indian tribes.

  5. Only 0.4% of businesses

    As of 2018, only 0.4% of U.S. businesses are owned by American Indians and Alaska Natives.

Why Unthanksgiving Day is Important

  1. It honors indigenous people

    Although many lives were lost in the bravery, it still stands as an important piece of the history of the world. It is observed as a remembrance of the suffering of the Native Indians.

  2. It is a meaningful day

    Although not many people know about this day, Unthanksgiving Day is one of the meaningful days that one can observe in the year.

  3. It teaches us about life

    The whole purpose of observing this day is to teach the modern citizens of America about the suffering that people have gone through in the history of building the nation. Learn all you can today.

Unthanksgiving Day dates

YearDateDay
2023November 23Thursday
2023November 24Friday
2024November 28Thursday
2025November 27Thursday
2026November 26Thursday

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