Indigenous Americans blending their culture with Thanksgiving

Posted at 6:45 AM, Nov 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-21 01:49:37-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - Thanksgiving is just one day away, and families are busy preparing for the big day.

Tallahassee is rich in Native American History.

WTXL ABC 27's Jada Williams shares how indigenous Americans are blending their culture with the holiday.

There are many Native Americans right here in the Capital City. This holiday season, some are blending parts of their culture like beadworking with other traditions, like the big thanksgiving feast.

There's a strong Native American presence here in Tallahassee.

Thelma Bowers is an employment and training coordinator with the Florida Governor's Council on Indian Affairs

"It felt like coming home, to be honest with you because I've always been drawn to this area and I don't know why," she said.

Bowers left her Muscogee Creek tribe in Oklahoma to be with her husband, a Seminole.

"I didn't know what to expect moving to Tallahassee," Bowers said. "Tallahassee is a Creek word, and there are so many mounds still in this area."

Like Bowers, Kathy Atkinson, executive director of the Florida Governor's Council on Indian Affairs, left her Iroqua tribe in Upstate New York,

"I had 4 children and I wanted them to see what the culture was outside of the tribe, so we moved," Atkinson said.

But despite leaving the tribe, Atkinson wanted her children to remember their roots.

"We do a lot of cultural work, a lot of cultural beadwork," Atkinson said. "This is just an example. This is part of a moccasin I started."

So for so many Native families blending cultures, how is Thanksgiving celebrated?

"A lot of the different Native American tribes celebrate Thanksgiving and a lot of them don't because with the cultural changes in a lot of Native Americans not being recognized, for who they are, they don't celebrate Thanksgiving," Atkinson said.