Native American Heritage Month

October 29, 2018

Traditional dance performance to kickoff SIU’s 2018 Native American Heritage Month celebration

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — With a traditional dance performance Nov. 1, Southern Illinois University Carbondale will kick off a month-long celebration of Native American Heritage Month, which will feature guest speakers, presentations, workshops, films, a craft night and more.

Chicago dancers featured in kickoff

The Black Hawk Dance Performance Company of Chicago will headline the kickoff event, set for 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 1 in the Student Center Auditorium. The performance is free and open to the public.

Named for one of the most famous American Indian leaders among the Great Lakes tribes, the company performs traditional Native American dances in honor of the many tribes who have called Illinois “home” at one time or another.

The company, along with the Been Nah Un Den Nah Drum Group, is based in the Chicago American Indian Museum. The groups perform for thousands of people each year, sharing their culture and celebrating their heritage through tribal song and dance.

Diversity workshop planned

The interactive “Diversity within the Community” workshop on Nov. 5 will focus on diversity within the Native American/American Indian community and how identities intersect. It will conclude with a question and answer session as panelists share their experiences. Facilitators are Catarina Durante Bergue Alves and Remya Perinchery.

Guest speakers bring variety of topics to light

Several guest speakers will present on a wide variety of subjects during the month. The lineup includes:

  • “Harmony in Native American Thought” on Nov. 7 will feature Shannon Griffin, SIU alumna and Rend Lake College philosophy instructor, discussing the pervasiveness of harmony in Native American thought and how that affects the people’s world view.
  • “Preserving the Kiowa language for everyone” on Nov. 9 will include an introduction by Andrew McKenzie of the University of Kansas to Oklahoma’s Kiowa language and the role it plays in the community and research applications.
  • “Why Tséhootsooi Does Not Equal Kit Carson Dr.: Navajo Place-Names and Linguistic Relativity with an Attitude” on Nov. 13 will offer thoughts by Anthony Webster, University of Texas at Austin professor, on controversies surrounding changing American names to Navajo place names.
  • “Tracing the Route of the Cherokee Trail of Tears from Georgia to Illinois” on Nov. 27 will focus on the removal of Native Americans in the 1830s from their lands to a new home across the country, including their trek through Illinois. Photographer Don Chamberlain will share insights.

Create beaded bracelets

Participants in the Native American Craft Night on Nov. 14 will create traditional beaded bracelets. Supplies are limited so those planning to attend must RSVP in advance.

Special exhibit and broadcasts

In recognition of Native American Heritage Month, a couple of special broadcasts are planned on WSIU television: “Apache 8” and “Native America New World Rising.”

In addition, all semester long the University Museum is hosting the “SIU Center for Archaeological Investigations 40th Anniversary Exhibit,” which features Native American rock art, pottery, stone tools and other artifacts investigated by the center’s archaeologists during the past 40 years. One highlight is a cross-section of a hundreds-year-old cypress log that was once in the center of a Native American village near St. Louis circa 1000-1500 A.D.

Enjoy traditional foods

Throughout the month, Lentz Dining Hall will recognize the people and their culture by serving special fare on various dates. Created using healthy, sustainable, nutritious recipes, the dishes will be served along with the usual Lentz menus.

All SIU students with meal plans can enjoy the special items at no cost while anyone else, including community members, can purchase meal tickets at the door.

Featured items at various times on Nov. 4, 7, 8, 11, 14, 15, 26, 28 and 29 will include baked black beans, wild rice burger, 3 sisters stew, green chili beans stir fry, black bean cake, Choctaw stew, squash and zucchini chow, Comanche stew and Seneca ghost bread.

Visit for pricing and additional information.  

For more information

The Student Multicultural Resource Center coordinates Native American Heritage Month and numerous campus organizations assist as sponsors.

Find the complete schedule of events and additional information online at Or, email,, or for additional information.