Inter-Tribal Learning Center hosts open house

One of the many educational events hosted during Native American Heritage Month

Delia Brandel

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Photo by Heidi Giacalone

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On Wednesday, Nov. 16, the Inter-Tribal Learning Center had an open house as part of their organized celebrations and events for Native American Heritage Month

Complete with pamphlets, ambassadors for the center and traditional Indigenous food, this event was an opportunity to learn more about a culture that may seem unfamiliar to some — or to enjoy some comfort food as an Indigenous student on campus. 

Charlie Kernan, a student at UW-Eau Claire, prepared the food served at this open house. By the end of the event, all the food was gone.  

When asked why this event was important to her, Maggie Jenson, a coordinator for the Multicultural Student Services Center, said “Being able to bring communities together (it’s) an opportunity for people to meet each other.” 

The space is relatively new, but will be dedicated for education, creative projects, music, culture and conversation.

“It’s a place where native students and allies come together,” Jenson said. 

“A lot of our events this month are centered around food… I think it’s kind of an overarching theme with most communities but in Indigenous communities, the way we get together and exchange information is usually over food,” said Kernan

The spread included three sisters soup, which Kernan said is “corn, beans and squash which is referring to how they are planted together.” 

Alongside the soup was wild rice and blueberries, served cold as is customary for many tribes as a dessert. 

The food-centric culture is tied into the activism done within the Intertribal Learning Center, which focuses on food sovereignty. Throughout the center, there are pamphlets and learning opportunities about the causes they fight for. 

Alongside the comfort for students whose culture may go unrepresented in the food and decor of the rest of campus, this event and the center itself give an opportunity for many uneducated visitors.

Riley McGrath, the director of counseling services along with many other counselors attended the event. “We want to support different student organizations and it’s nice to be invited into these spaces,” said McGrath. 

This event is one of many going on within the center this month, alongside a traditional feast happening on Nov. 22. This event focuses on “Food Sovereignty and dispelling Thanksgiving myths” as the poster mentions. 

Students can join Dr. Heather Ann Moody and Dr. Andrew Sturevant from 12-2 p.m in the Multicultural Student Services Office for food and conversation. 

Events like these are extremely important for communities, as it offers a way for people who may be uncomfortable or uninformed to learn and experience other cultures. 

It also allows minority students to enjoy their culture and traditions, in an environment where they are celebrated and supported for doing so. 

Many American Indian Studies major and minor students also frequent the space, creating a pocket of the campus dedicated to learning about and growing a community. 

The American Indian Studies Program is another great resource for students looking to educate themselves on indigenous people and culture, especially with the history of our campus land. 

For more events and announcements, the Inter-Tribal Student Council has a Facebook Page, along with the American Indian Studies Program Instagram account

Brandel can be reached at [email protected].