The actor helped to serve a turkey feast for some 500 of the self-described water defenders. Her gesture was met with skepticism from some.
“What is the narrative there? ‘Oh, we want to help the poor Indians on Thanksgiving of all days?’” Kandi Mosset, 37, a member of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara nations who has been at Standing Rock since August, asked The Guardian.
— Frances Fisher I❤️99 (@Frances_Fisher) November 24, 2016
“We’re trying to make people understand that we don’t need celebrities to come and feed us and get a photo op and just leave,” she added.
Since 1970, the United American Indians of New England has held a “National Day of Mourning” each Thanksgiving, over the genocide of Native American people.
Approximately 300 activists were out protesting on Thursday, near the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's reservation in North Dakota, and were met by roughly 50 police officers.
"Given what we are currently fighting against, Thanksgiving is not really a celebration for us," Native American protester Dallas Goldtooth told ABC News.
Many social media users also posted about the significance of Native Americans being subjected to brutality by representatives of the US government during the holiday season. “For Thanksgiving, Obama will pardon a turkey, but won’t step in to protect Native Americans?” one widely-shared image noted.
— Political Chris (@PunditChris) November 25, 2016
"What our ancestors went through 200 years ago, in a way we are kind of going through the same struggle. What is happening in North Dakota is just a mere continuation of 500 years of colonization," Goldtooth said.
According to Standing Rock leaders, the $3.8-billion pipeline being constructed by Energy Transfer Partners will also ruin sacred sites near the tribe's reservation.
Hundreds of protesters have been arrested, and many have been injured by flash grenades, rubber bullets, tear gas, and water cannons used in subfreezing weather.
Though the protesters do not celebrate Thanksgiving, they do use the day to celebrate their families and each other.
“We don’t think of it as celebrating Thanksgiving, we think of it as a federal holiday where we get to spend time with family, and family is important to us,” Dave Archambault, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux tribal council told The Guardian.
“Every day is just another day,” Archambault said about the significance of Thanksgiving. “We just have to keep moving forward and fight for our rights.”