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This year, the Reader has curated a list of noteworthy lengthy stories (including some from our own archive) to get you to ruminate on the origins of Thanksgiving: the arrival of European colonizers on the shores of a land already rich with history and culture. If at some point you’re sick of talking to your family about the election—or sick of talking, period—follow us on this nonfiction-narrative journey.
Even if you have no idea what sorts of problems are affecting Native Americans today, you’ve likely heard about the ongoing battle by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe of North Dakota to prevent the Dakota Access oil pipeline from traversing their holy sites and potentially contaminating their water. One of the deepest dives so far is by Vogue‘s Rebecca Bengal. Lots of powerful photos and videos to boot.
In this 2014 story for the Wall Street Journal, reporter Michael Allen examines the legacy of his grandfather—he participated in the slaughter of Native Americans in Colorado.
And, Chicagoan, lest you forget that the land this city occupies used to belong to someone else, check out Eula Biss’s moving 2008 tribute to the origins and history of Rogers Park. Also worth a read are these Reader oldies on the theft of Native American children by Illinois’s Department of Children and Family Services, the discrimination against Native American kids in Chicago Public Schools, and the state’s mishandling of a tribal burial site near Peoria.
For those trying to just focus on sports over the holiday, check out the Hoop Dreams-like story of a Wyoming high school basketball team, or this long read about football legend Jim Thorpe’s family’s long struggle to lay his body to rest.
People frequently associate Native Americans with the gambling industry. To find out how this came to be and what’s at stake for a tribe that wants to open a casino, read Ariel Levy’s 2010 New Yorker story about the Shinnecock Indian Nation of Long Island—they wanted to open one in the Hamptons—or this 2000 Reader feature on a Potawatomi quest for a casino outside Chicago.
Finally, if you, like us, have wondered “Why do so many people pretend to be Native American?” Here are some answers.