Happy Thanksgiving! I thought long and hard about which doll to feature in a Thanksgiving post and decided on Kaya. My reason was NOT because of the Pilgrim and Indian First Thanksgiving story (wrong century, wrong tribe, wrong part of the country–not to mention that story is largely romanticized and misrepresented) but because giving thanks is such a significant part of daily life in Kaya’s culture. Her books really emphasize the belief of the Nimíipuu people that life hangs in such an important balance and giving thanks is an integral part. When Kaya eats a meal, she takes a tiny bite first and gives thanks before eating the rest. When Kaya’s sister Speaking Rain is saved by White Braids, Speaking Rain makes a vow to stay with her as a daughter forever to repay her gratitude. When Kaya miraculously survives a wildfire, she and her father agree to leave many gifts of thanks to the Stick People, who they believe are the guardians of the forest and helped her to escape with her life.
Though Kaya would not have eaten the same kind of food that many of us will be eating today, any time she was able to prepare food for her people it was a task she was proud to do and was considered an honor.
She would have given thanks to Hun-ya-wat, the Creator, for providing the food they ate.
Many modern powwows center around themes of spirituality and include elements of giving thanks.
I think that in our busy lives it is so easy to forget to be thankful for the simple things, such as food and shelter, that Kaya’s people would have given thanks for each day. I think we can all learn something about this level of gratitude and it is my personal goal to find the important things in life and give thanks for all of my blessings.
I am thankful for my family, my job, my health, and the comfort I live in, among so many other blessings. I am thankful for my dolls and the opportunities they give me to be creative and to learn about different times and cultures. I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving!