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Thanksgiving has been a staple in America for longer than many can recall. It's a time to prepare food, give thanks. Some watch football, some watch the parade and some watch A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. It is seen as a gathering for family, and a celebration of what people are thankful for. Tatanka Horse, a freshman of Rio Americano High School observes Thanksgiving not just as a holiday but a grievance.

Tatanka Horse is a member of the Oglala Lakota Sioux tribe and known to his family as the “first generation.” Meaning the first to live off the reservation as he aims to change the perception of how people look upon his culture. Throughout his life Tatanka has engaged in many presentations and activities to teach others about his culture through school. His family has an influential role on Tatanka’s drive to take action on learning about his roots and being a groundbreaker for his Native community.

“Thanksgiving we come together and celebrate like everyone else. You know, eat food, watch some football. We pray over a meal. We make a spirit plate and feed the spirits. It was also a mourning for our ancestors and remembering them and that we are grateful that we are still here as a people.” He was not taught the truth of Thanksgiving's history in his school district. “What I was taught in school was Native Americans finally had an agreement to sit down and eat together. But then eventually that was short lived, that peace was short lived. I wasn’t really taught that in school. It was more diluted version, kinda like you add water to lemonade; it's not the full truth of it.” Through his family he discovered the truth of Thanksgiving's origins.

Tatanka’s experience as a Native American student was promoted to teach others about his culture but he was singled out due to physical differences such as long hair. “Everyone kinda talked about my hair. Oh your hair, can I touch it? Can I braid it? It’d be like repetitive questions. It gets really tiring hearing the same questions over and over.” He believes that Native Americans are being written out of history and having a huge lack of representation in media and recorded history.

“We're almost being slowly forgotten and written off from books. Once I only found like maybe three paragraphs about Native Americans.”

Tatanka displayed a strong connection with his family, though many of his relatives on his father's side reside in South Dakota. When asked about his relationship with his older brother he stated, “He makes me want to be a critical thinker for myself and learn about things about my culture and say that we are the new generation, the first generation to finally change the way people look upon us. We can change that.” His grandmother is another family member that inspires him to be closer connected with his culture. “My grandma plays a role in my life as like culture. She speaks full Lakota. I strive to be like my grandmother. She goes to pow wows and she goes to meetings.” He has great sorrow for his family members that hurt themselves by abuse of alcohol. Although he keeps the belief his relatives are compelling spirited individuals, he still maintains sorrow for the impact of living in poverty has on his family.

Thanksgiving is a widely celebrated holiday in the United States, but the true history behind might make someone think twice before they pass the gravy. Celebration and breaks are important in a time of crisis, but so is remembrance and accountability.

Tatanka carries complete responsibility for the movement to form a new future for Native Americans being a first generation Native American. Tatanka has hope that the U.S. will admit their genocide to Native Americans but accepts that it will be a lengthy journey.

“It’s gonna take awhile but it’s gonna be a long road since we're the first generation, and I think they’ll admit it, eventually.”

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