UW-Eau Claire holding events to celebrate Native American Heritage Month

The four events in November are centered on celebration, education and food

Toby Mohr

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Flutist+Darren+Thompson+rehearsing+with+the+Wisconsin+Chamber+Orchestra+last+spring.

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Flutist Darren Thompson rehearsing with the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra last spring.

UW-Eau Claire is holding four events in November to celebrate Native American Heritage Month. 

According to Multicultural Student Services, all events are free and open for all students to attend.

On Nov. 2, Indigenous flutist Darren Thompson gave a performance and presentation on music history.

On Nov. 16, the Intertribal Learning Center is hosting an open house and potluck where students can meet with faculty, have discussions and enjoy free food.

On Nov. 22, Multicultural Student Services is hosting a traditional Thanksgiving feast, with Dr. Heather Ann Moody and Dr. Andrew Sturtevant giving a presentation on the truth of Thanksgiving.

Then on a date to be announced during the last week of November, Larry Littlegeorge and a team of activists will lead a discussion on the history of American colonialism through the lens of Indigenous peoples. 

Charlie Kernan, coordinator with the Multicultural Student Services Office, said these events are a great way to learn about Native American history and culture in an open setting.

“We’ve decided to take a more relaxed approach to events this year,” Kernan said. “We want to create an open space for students to get together and exchange culture and for allies who are interested in learning and observing. There’s open spaces for that as well.”

Kernan said they want to provide a more accessible approach to discussing and celebrating Indigenous history.

“With UW-Eau Claire being a predominantly white campus, it’s really important we have these cultural events so folks in those cultures can feel seen, recognized and appreciated, but also provide educational experiences for folks who are interested in learning more,” they said.

Kernan also said they encourage students from all backgrounds to attend the events to learn more and ask questions about Native American culture.

“A lot of times I think people are afraid of asking questions because they don’t want to say anything wrong or potentially offensive,” Kernan said. “This is a great way where those folks don’t need to worry about ‘messing up’ and ask questions in a more relaxed and open way.”

They also said with UW-Eau Claire on the land of the Dakota, Lakota, Ho Chunk and Ojibwe tribes, it is important to celebrate and share their cultures.

“It helps keep our cultures alive and helps show people that Indigenous people aren’t just on reservations, we’re not just a part of history books, we’re here and we are still thriving,” Kernan said. “We have vibrant cultures and we’re ready to share those with the world.”

 Kernan said with events focusing on celebration, education and food, there is something for everyone. 

“A great way to connect with someone’s culture is to experience their foods,” they said. “People can have a lot of good conversations over food and create cross-cultural connections.”

The Native American Heritage Month events are put on by the Multicultural Student Services office, the American Indian Studies program and the Inter-tribal Student Council. 

Information about the events can be found on the Multicultural Student Services website.

Mohr can be reached at [email protected]