Native American heritage month

Advisors for the Inter-Tribal Student Council discuss events happening this month

Lisa Snyder

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Photo by Lisa Snyder

The Inter-Tribal Learning Center, located in Hibbard 150.

The start of November is here, along with the beginning of Native American heritage month celebrations at UW-Eau Claire. The month will include many events including contemporary art exhibits, a pop up powwow, virtual speakers and alumni guests. 

Maggie Jensen, Associate Student Services Coordinator, said Native American heritage month is important for recognizing Indigenous peoples not just for the month of November, but every day for the entirety of the year. Jensen said the month is a stepping stone for learning.

“It is an opportunity to open the door for people who don’t know much about the history and culture of Inigenous peoples,” Jensen said. “It gives them the opportunity to get introduced.”

The events kicked off on Nov. 1 with an open house event in the Inter-Tribal Learning Center. Indigenous students, allies and faculty were able to attend a more casual event, connecting with one another while eating customizable wild rice bowls.

The “Pop Up Pow Wow” event on Nov. 6, is an exhibition style event this year. Jensen said Bizhiki Culture and Dance company was hired to come and dance for a smaller scale event, while still providing a learning experience and immersion with the culture. 

Later in the month, the “Blugold Dialogue Beyond Policy” event will give attendees an opportunity to learn about the importance of smudging practices and the policy implemented at UW-Superior regarding this. 

Jensen said the policy is something she is hoping to see here on campus, and that the event is a great educational experience.

Heather Moody, associate professor for the American Indian Studies Program and advisor for the Inter-Tribal Student Council, said the virtual “Alumni Panel” event on Nov. 17 is a great opportunity for former students to talk to current students about what they can do with an American Indian Studies degree

Moody said the panel will feature three former Indigenous students with AIS degrees, talking to students about where they are at today and the benefits of getting a degree in American Indian Studies. 

The month will end with an “American Indian Heritage Month Celebration” event on Nov. 29. This event provides students and staff another opportunity to join the Inter-Tribal Student Council for a celebration of Native American culture while connecting with peers. 

A full list of Native American Heritage Month with links to virtual events can be found here

The UW-Eau Claire seal features the Council Oak tree which is recognized by the university as a symbol of sacred ancestral lands of past and present Indigenous Peoples. 

Moody said if the university is going to have a seal that represents Indigenous Peoples and emphasize land recognition, we need to move beyond performative action. 

“To honor Native American Heritage Month is a small way to do that,” Moody said. “The university wants to be a leader in EDI and you cannot be a leader in EDI if you are not going to recognize the Indigeous Peoples that were there in the past, but also the folks who are here today.” 

Jensen said the month serves as a way to open up the conversation so people can learn and continue to learn not only throughout the month, but to also think about Indigenous Peoples and culture every day. 

Snyder can be reached at [email protected].