Thanksgiving can be a time of feasting and family gathering, but, for many this is a period of mourning. This holiday holds a past of Indigenous genocide, suppression, and the perpetuation of colonization. At Barnacle, we are committed to understanding this story through the voices of our Indigneous friends, family, and peers.


Each year, on this week, we've made it a tradition to hand over our platforms to Indigneous voices and take a step back. The Raising Indigenous Voices takeovers have become something we look forward to each year, and resoundingly, many of you have expressed the same. Thank you for listening and being a part of this tradition.


This year, we are fortunate to have the opportunity to share the words and photos of Ellen Bradley. Please feel free to respond to this email, message Ellen directly, or through Barnacle's platform to express gratitude, ask questions, and let her know you are listening. Gunalchéesh (thank you) for joining us.

Hello Relatives.

Dleit ḵáa x̱'éináx̱ Ellen Bradley yóo x̱at duwasáakw. Lingít x̱éináx̱ Kakéin shee yóo x̱at duwasáakw. Dleit ḵáa naax̱ x̱at sitee. L'eeneidí yádi áyá x̱at.

My name is Ellen Bradley. My Lingít name, given to me by my Grandmother Martha Person Bradley, is Kakéin Shee. My parents are John and Kelli Bradley, and I am a child of the Dog Salmon, L'eeneidí. I was born and raised near the Salish Sea, about 30 miles north of Seattle. My ancestors are from Lingít Aani (Southeast Alaska).

I wear many hats. I am an Arctic research assistant at the Woodwell Climate Research Center and I am a professional skier. I am learning our Lingít language and am committed to being a lifelong learner of our culture and values. I actively advocate for our Native rights in industries rooted in colonialism to remind my colleagues of the land's first peoples. Within our Native communities, I am working towards restoring our people’s relationship with the land, in all seasons. I encourage thoughtfulness around how, when, and where “outdoor recreation” happens on our traditional lands.

In the outdoor industry, Alaska is often presented as “untouched” and “wild.” It is seen as the mecca of outdoor sports, a place where an athlete goes to prove they can survive in “inhospitable” conditions.

This is a colonial narrative, a distortion of the realities faced by my ancestors, and the perpetuation of the idea that Native peoples are inferior. My Alaska Native relatives have existed and thrived in these lands since time immemorial.

In Southeast Alaska, we are blessed with some of the world’s most diverse food options, and yet “great explorers” like John Muir and Bradford Washburn nearly starved to death here, they were saved by Lingíts. “Re-telling” the narrative of Alaska centering on the land’s Peoples is crucial to breaking the cycle of colonization.

To me, the need for sharing this truth – the story of the Peoples of our lands – becomes increasingly important in October and November. This is a time when we as Indigenous Peoples are forced to walk through a season when our societies celebrate Columbus Day and Thanksgiving.

When I was growing up, we celebrated all of the colonial holidays in school, the holidays that celebrate the men who “conquered” our Peoples. I remember dressing up as a pilgrim as a child. Recently, I found an art project from second grade where I made a pilgrim and an “Indian” out of paper. I had written my name under the pilgrim. We were taught that the pilgrims sailed to America on the Mayflower, landed on Plymouth rock, and ran into Indians. The friendly pilgrims shared a peaceful meal with the Indians, and the Indians stepped aside allowing the pilgrims to fulfill their destiny of taking over the land.


I was taught from a young age that I should be a pilgrim and that all the Indians died. It wasn’t until the last few years that I reflected on my education and the experiences Indigenous youth face that deeply affects our Native identity.


Thanksgiving, Native mascots, and distorted histories of our country are some of the many ways we harm our Native youth. Studies show that reinforcing stereotypes and prejudice has led to higher rates of depression and suicide among our Native and Indigneous youth. Today, protecting our Native youth is one of my highest priorities.


I do not celebrate Thanksgiving, a glorification of an event that caused the genocide of Indigenous Peoples. Instead, I observe the National Day of Mourning. In 1970 the first National Day of Mourning was organized by Frank James of the Wampanoag Tribe, a counter event to the Pilgrim Progress March – a march that celebrates the first winter survived by the Pilgrims. Today, many Indigenous people observe the National Day of Mourning in Plymouth and across the world.

This day is a time to reflect on past and present colonization, and to mourn my own ancestors’ experiences and genocide.


Each year, I choose to educate myself on the history of this holiday. This year I am reading "This Land is Their Land: The Wampanoag Indians, Plymouth Colony and the Troubled History of Thanksgiving" by David J. Silverman. I seek to understand why this holiday has become popularized in our society and to understand the true history from the perspective of the Wampanoags. Whether or not you decide to celebrate Thanksgiving or observe the National Day of Mourning, I urge you to learn about this truth and the history of our country.


Yáa at Wooné (Respect for All Things)

Gunalchéesh (Thank you)

Kakéin Shee - Ellen Bradley

  • Dedicate time this week to learning about this history and the Native Peoples whose land you reside on. Check out

  • Learn about the true history of "Thanksgiving."

  • Support Indigenous artists and businesses while gift-giving this year.

  • Consider how you can empower Native youth in your community and in outdoor spaces. Follow Natives Outdoors on social media.

  • Read Native books written by Native authors.

  • Listen to Indigenous music. Check out the Áak’w Rock Indigenous Music Festival to learn about artists.

  • In Alaska: learn about the Alaska Native Brotherhood and Sisterhood, Elizabeth Peratrovich and Alaska’s Anti-Discrimination Act of 1945, the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANSCA), and the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA), or take Native Movement’s Decolonization Training.