What are you thankful for?


November is Native American Heritage Month!

As a member of CONAM, the Commission on Native American Ministries, I am thankful for our Native American brothers and sisters and for the many and varied contributions they have made to my life as an American. Without them the Pilgrims would not have survived their first winter on this continent. They taught the settlers hunting, farming and gathering techniques, out of their love for the land and a strong sense of generosity.

Over the thousands of years, these tribal nations have lived here, they discovered, developed and cultivated over half of the different foods consumed by all other countries. In addition to the “Three Sisters” (Corn, beans and squash), they also raised potatoes (which saved Ireland from starvation during the famine), avocados, peanuts, tomatoes, pumpkins, sunflowers, wild rice, chocolate, sweet potatoes and peppers.

They gathered blackberries, strawberries, cherries, blueberries, and raspberries, which were used for teas, puddings, jams, soups, cakes and other foods. The Native peoples domesticated the wild turkey which originated in this country. And what would Thanksgiving be without the turkey?

This photo was taken at this year’s “Mountain Spirit” pow wow, supported by the CONAM. The founder is 90-year-old Betty Baird.

Some of the other food contributions of Indigenous peoples are maple syrup, corn chowder, succotash, cornbread, baked corn, roasted corn, popcorn, chili, corn tortillas, salsa, tacos, and tamales. Without these contributions, our diets would be pretty boring. These wonderful accomplishments, among many others, are why I continue to be thankful to our Indigenous brothers and sisters.

As we sit down to our Thanksgiving dinners, consider the source of our turkey, mashed potatoes, beans, corn and pumpkin pie … and be thankful!

This Thanksgiving tribute was written by Rich Shaffer, a member of WVUMC CONAM


The West Virginia Conference CONAM is actively involved in supporting and celebrating native peoples and their contributions to daily life. This year CONAM helped to sponsor two pow wows and participated in the annual Northeastern Jurisdiction gathering.

We look forward to more opportunities as we look forward to 2022.