Standing Rock Thanksgiving: a day of mourning, resistance and Jane Fonda

Native Americans at the North Dakota protest site greet the day with conflicted feelings, while Jane Fonda prepares to serve a 500-person turkey feast

Native Americans gathered at Standing Rock are approaching this Thanksgiving with deeply conflicted feelings. Do they observe the historically dissonant holiday, mourn the genocide of their ancestors, celebrate the water protector movement, or break bread with Jane Fonda?

The actor and fitness guru is part of a delegation to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota that will serve 500 people a Thanksgiving dinner of 30 pasture-raised turkeys from Bill Nimans ranch prepared by a locavore chef, according to a press release littered with boldface names.

Kandi Mosset, a member of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara nation, has mixed feelings about the gesture.

What is the narrative there? Oh, we want to help the poor Indians on Thanksgiving of all days? asked the 37-year-old who has been at Standing Rock since August.

Were trying to make people understand that we dont need celebrities to come and feed us and get a photo op and just leave, she added.

Fonda is the latest celebrity to support the indigenous and environmental activists who are opposing the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline. The pipeline is slated to cross under the Missouri river just north of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation, and the tribe fears that spills will contaminate their water source and construction will destroy sacred burial sites.

Actors Mark Ruffalo and Patricia Arquette have visited the encampments, bringing solar panels and composting toilets respectively, and actor Shailene Woodley was arrested with 26 others after a protest on 10 October. Woodley will participate with Fonda in the Thanksgiving meal.

The traditional story of the first Thanksgiving feast between peaceful Pilgrims and generous Natives has been challenged by indigenous groups for decades. The United American Indians of New England began observing a National Day of Mourning on Thanksgiving in 1970, calling attention to the history of genocide against indigenous people that included massacres, broken treaties, and the forced assimilation of children through boarding schools that persisted into the 1970s.

Bitter ironies abound for the indigenous activists encamped on the banks of the Missouri river .

Many in the camp are still reeling from Sunday night, when North Dakota law enforcement officials deployed water cannons amid sub-freezing temperatures.

Read more: