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“Thanksgiving”: Learning Native Indigenous History

The History of Thanksgiving

Yesterday was Thanksgiving. We’ve ALL heard the story about why we celebrate Thanksgiving. We heard that it marked the day where the colonizers and Native people shared their first harvest feast in 1621. And I’m here to tell you that this wasn’t the first thanksgiving nor it happened the fairytale way. In fact, there were hundreds to thousands of thanksgivings and many of them (in Turtle Island; now the U.S.A) were related to the massacres, genocides, and murders of Native Indigenous people.

  • Read about the partial timeline/records of thanksgiving.
  • Read the Wampanoag side of the ‘first’ Thanksgiving story.
  • Read the true story behind the continuation of celebrating Thanksgiving.
  • Read where Thanksgiving came from and the dark history behind it.

The Irony of it All

Here’s the irony, the colonizers fled their country for freedom. Freedom of what? To free themselves from control of religion, law, government, debt, etc.

Here’s a little history recap: The pilgrims of the 1621 Thanksgiving didn’t arrive until December 1620. These colonizers were helped by Native people (per usual), with open arms, despite what happened prior to their arrival. Prior to their arrival, the Europeans made their way over in 1616. The European diseases and cruel activities killed up to 90% of the Wampanoag population. On the European’s way out, they ripped Natives from their tribes and families to become slaves. Although Natives were welcoming, the pilgrims still had to take.

Quick Summary: The colonizers came here for freedom to take freedom; which is what the government was build off of.

Putting it All Together: What is Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving is a day of grief of what happened and what continues to happen to Natives. I continually ask myself, why celebrate a holiday that celebrates the downfall of my own people? In a simple answer, we weren’t given the truth in history class. We only read about the colonizer’s perspective to cover up what actually happened to Native people. This narrative paints colonizers to be the good and Native people as bad. There were many other demeaning words that described my people; my family.

Ignorant People: “WhErE iS tHe PrOoF?”

Many uneducated/ignorant people ask that for any fact that exposes the true colors of America.

Answer: The colonizers/government tried their best to burn and erase every single piece of Native history and culture in more than hundreds of ways. Watch how the government did it and are still doing it today!

Things to Try

Learn the history behind holidays. Dig deeper. Ask yourself if you are hearing the truth. Be open to listening/learning from/about people who are systemically being oppressed. Be the change, not the problem. If you don’t see the problem, ask yourself how you would feel if the same happened to your race/culture. Treat people with kindness and dignity!

Those who are being oppressed, erased, targeted, etc. are at greater risk of suicide. We are humans! We exist and have feelings! Native Indigenous Lives Matter!

If you are struggling with mental health and would like to seek help, click here for our resources page.

– Dez

CT STAY STRONG (Updated) for Young Adults


TurningPointCT.org is Proud to be Partners with the CT STAY STRONG Program!

young adults CT Stay Strong

Check out this CT STAY STRONG Brochure to find out more!


What is CT STAY STRONG?

The CT STAY STRONG program utilizes the wraparound approach for working with young adults (ages 16-25) in the greater New Britain and East Hartford area who are in need of behavioral health related support services. Funding for this initiative is made possible by the Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services, via a grant from SAMHSA.

What is CT STAY STRONG like for Young Adults? Hear the reasons why your peers love this program!


CT Stay Strong uses “wraparound” care!

Wraparound is a planning process used to build constructive relationships and support networks among young adults & their families.

Wraparound is…The Team is build of (a)…Wraparound can help with…
Community BasedClinician(s)Home
Culturally RelevantFamily Advocate(s)School
IndividualizedEmployee Specialist(s)Community Connection
Strength BasedPeer Specialist(s)Basic Needs
Family CenteredSocial, Emotional, Spiritual, & Cultural Needs

How will CT STAY STRONG help YOU ? Hear more from your peers who have received treatment from the CT STAY STRONG Care Team!

  • young adults quote

How do I sign up?

Accepting referrals for young adults ages 16-25 residing in the greater New Britain & East Hartford areas! Referrals are accepted from yourself, schools, courts, higher education, adult education, and community based organizations!

Contact the provider within your community for a referral form or to complete a telephone screening!


NameTitleEmailPhoneAddress/Division
Amanda RossDirector of Intensives CMHAaross@cmhacc.org(860)229-4850 x1900233 Main Street, New Britain, CT, 06051
Jessica
Rees-Muniz
InterCommunity, Inc.jessicarees@intercommunityct.org(860)569-5900281 Main Street, East Hartford, CT, 06118
John Holland,
PhD, LCSW
Principal Investigatorjohn.holland@ct.gov(860)262-6977Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services for Young Adults
Cindy McGrathProgram Managercindy.mcgrath@ct.gov(860)262-6975Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services for Young Adults
Karen HensleyProject Directorkhensley@abhct.comAdvanced Behavioral Health, Inc.
213 Court Street, Middletown, CT, 06495

Open/Download a PDF copy of the CT STAY STRONG Brochure by Clicking Here!

It’s Transgender Awareness Week!

In light of Transgender Awareness Week, I wanted to share a poem I wrote about my transgender experience! It’s definitely a piece that would be in my future poetry book!

What is Transgender Awareness Week for?

Transgender Awareness Week starts on November 13th and ends on the 19th. This is a week dedicated to help raise visibility of transgender folx and the issues faced by individuals of the community.

My Personal Trans Experiences

I have faced many adversities being transgender; especially in the ‘awkward’ transitioning period. I experienced sexual/verbal harassment, aggression, discrimination, verbal abuse, etc. For obvious reasons, experiencing all of that was hard. I would never wish this amount of emotional pain onto anyone; not even people who appear to be horrible. I can say, feeling like the world was against me was the absolute hardest moments of my journey/life. It led me to turn against myself.

My experiences has led me to write the poem, “The Power of Labels“. I wrote this poem to shine light on a struggle members of the gender expansive community face. The hardship(s) of not being addressed by our underlying identity but rather by the gender binary social construct of appearance.

My Poem

transgender awareness week poem

Labels are powerful. Please be kind to people! And please respect transgender individuals. Say their chosen name(s) and correct pronouns. Those are really important to us!

– Dez 🙂

Receiving & Accepting New Diagnoses 

Depression & Anxiety

I have made friends with my diagnoses, anxiety and depression, about 5 years ago. For me, depression was an easy one to accept. I had researched countless hours about what depression was, the varying symptoms and how to cope with it – all before telling anyone I was struggling. I went as far as taking online quizzes labeled “Do I Have Depression?”. Not to my surprise, each came back saying “highly likely” or “see a provider”.

Anxiety was another easy one to accept. For me, it actually felt like a relief. Looking back at my childhood, I thought I was just being difficult or worried too much. Oftentimes, I felt I was just too sensitive. But, in reality, many times I was feeling anxious and overstimulated. During high school, I would stay home by myself when my family was at work and extracurricular activities. Unlike other kids who could walk around the house freely and relax in the silence, I would be frozen. My anxiety told me at any second someone would break into the house. I would sit and go through different scenarios in my head and how I could get out of the house if something happened. I kept 2 phones with me at all times and stayed in the living room until someone came home. And I just thought I was being crazy and needed to calm down, but I couldn’t. So, when I was given the label of generalized anxiety disorder, I felt like what was happening in my head had been rationalized.

My Journey of Accepting my Diagnoses

Recently, I have developed more prominent signs of OCD. For me, it’s been in the form of contamination OCD or what I like to call “germ OCD”. When I come home from being out in public, I immediately have to wash my hands. Not once, but multiple times until they feel clean. I also need to change my clothes immediately in fear of sitting on something and getting it “dirty” from being outside of my house. I have also been obsessive about numbers, specifically the volume of music playing in my car or on the TV. They all have to be odd. If not, I will continuously think about it until it is fixed. After talking through these symptoms over many weeks with my therapist and healthcare provider, we decided what I am experiencing is most likely OCD. I felt so discouraged when this label was first brought up. I felt as though all the hard work I’ve been doing in therapy was wasted. Honestly, I felt like it was one more thing to add to the list of “what’s wrong with me”.

Over the past few weeks I have come to realize it’s not just “one more thing that’s wrong with me”. For me, talk about diagnoses and a new diagnosis is a way to explain why I am thinking the way I am. I also try to remind myself that just because I am experiencing these symptoms now, does not necessarily mean I will always experience them. But, if I do, it is okay and I will continue to learn ways to cope.

– Maria

Voting on November 8th, General Election

How many of you received a text message from a state representative? Over the past few weeks, I have received over 5 text messages about who to vote for. I have also received over 5 pieces of mail for who to vote for with ‘red flag’ language. There probably were a few phone calls that I didn’t pick up. This makes voting a bit nerve racking due to the many choices!

To Say the Least

I’m someone who is extremely uninterested in politics. I surely don’t follow politics. But there’s an importance to keep/put people like us in office! That includes those who care more about those who are struggling with mental health, addiction, gender identity, sexuality, to stay alive, etc. rather than trying to control people’s rights as human beings.

Voting Should be Influenced by YOU

Many of us allow other people to influence our choices with their use of words without doing basic research. To the people who see past particular choices of language, AKA the ‘red flags’, thank you! We’ve all been in a position where we haven’t picked up on the ‘red flag’ language because of surrounding influences. For you, question political “arguments”, especially when they don’t make sense!

This is a friendly reminder that we must research who to vote for despite our family’s, friend’s, and even our own political affiliation! Ask yourself:

  • What do I struggle with that this person will address?
  • What are my values that this person has?
  • Will people and/or the people I love be in heightened danger due to their mental health, sex at birth, gender identity and/or sexuality if this person gets elected?
  • How does this person talk about/to others who are different from them?
  • What matters more? The people or the economy?

There are many people who regret voting for someone of their political affiliation as it has put their loved ones in danger!

Your Voice Matters!

– Dez 🙂

I’m Autistic & Misdiagnosed with ADHD

All my life, I knew I was different. It showed with the way I thought, did things, and just knew certain information as common knowledge. People treated me like an encyclopedia, however, they never understood my behavioral patterns. Almost 14 years later, I now understand that I am autistic with autistic problems!

Where it All Started

I was informally and misdiagnosed diagnosed with ADHD; attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. A caregiver gave me that diagnosis without any formal testing for ADHD. All it took was for them to ask a family doctor of 20+ years for an ADHD prescription. I didn’t really resonate with that diagnosis and was very conscious about it at a very young age. Growing older, I stopped taking the ADHD medication because I didn’t think I had ADHD. At the age of 22, I understand why there was a misdiagnosis of ADHD when my behaviors fell under Autism. Many people do not know the difference! AND are not aware that there are more diagnoses than ADHD.

What’s the Difference?

This is a Venn diagram of some ADHD and Autism differences with some overlapping similarities. Image found here.

This is How I Knew I Didn’t Have ADHD…

People with ADHD often have a hard time paying attention for an extended amount of time and may get distracted easily. Which wasn’t my issue. I had a limited scope of interest that didn’t show to be just one thing as it correlated with my academic performance in a positive way. It was the mask that greatly hid that I was autistic. My personal struggles with language also served as a mask that explained the negative impact of my reading scores. I only spoke Spanish but understood English when I came back from Puerto Rico in 2008. From my perspective, I was able to read the material and understand it. I just didn’t know how to write it down in English.

As a complex factor, another result of my impacted academic performance was how uninterested I was in reading certain things. I absolutely had no interest in reading anything besides ghost stories, Shakespeare plays, and/or poetry. When it came down to independent reading, I never read! SORRY MIDDLE/HIGH SCHOOL TEACHERS, but I was acting. I wasn’t the best actor and broke character a lot. It interpreted as ADHD because I would have rather looked outside than read something I didn’t have an interest in. That gave off that I was easily distracted.

This concludes the reason why I appeared to have ADHD and not Autism. But it doesn’t conclude this blog series!

– Dez 🙂

To You From Dez :)

Hello! My name is Dez Chapman. My pronouns are he/they and I am the new Project Assistant here! You may have seen a post about my story. There, I talk a little about my struggles. You can also read about our peers’ unique stories here! They have helped me feel like I’m not alone.

A Little About Me

I’m a transgender masculine person who is part of the BIPOC, neurodivergent and spiritual communities. Throughout my journey I have learned how to manage my gender dysphoria, PTSD, and sensory difficulties of Autism. My experiences make me extremely passionate about ending the stigmas and stereotypes surrounding mental health and culture. All of which motivates me to contribute to this evolving world!

I would like to consider myself as a unique and old soul; my temperament and use of language really shows it. Learning about the world and the universe is something I greatly enjoy doing as a hobby. For ways of coping, I play the guitar, piano and drums. I also create art and poetry! Only a fraction of my poetry is on Wattpad. In addition, I love music. You can always find me listening to music of different languages and genres! Music suggestions are welcome!

What Makes Me Unique

I’m a psychic medium! I realized that I had this gift when I was a child. My experiences of being a psychic medium helps me understand the world and people. Most importantly, it helped me understand that personal connection matters! That’s why I like spending time listening to myself and/or in nature; preferably surrounded by trees near a stream of water! I sometimes find myself helping injured animals when I come across them out in nature.

To read more about me, visit the About Us page!

I’m excited to be part of TuriningPointCT.org! I aspire to make people feel like they are not alone in their unique journeys!

Contact: dchapman@positivedirections.org