October 29, 2020

SIU recognizing November as Native American Heritage Month with special virtual activities

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — With a variety of special virtual events, Southern Illinois University Carbondale is recognizing November as Native American Heritage Month. SIU is partnering with SIU Edwardsville to sponsor conversations, presentations and other activities to celebrate the nation’s Indigenous people and enhance understanding of who they really are.

All events are free and open to the public. Although the activities are quite diverse, the overarching message remains consistent, said Krista English, one of the Native American Heritage Month organizers and a member of Montana’s Assiniboine tribe, also known as the Nakoda.

“Native American Heritage Month is about more than acknowledging Indigenous existence,” she said. “It is a time to educate the public about our diverse and beautiful culture, to celebrate the important contributions Native people have made to our society and to raise awareness about the challenges we face today, not just historically.

“When you open textbooks, many of them speak about my people in the past tense, as if we no longer exist. We are not a museum piece. We are alive. We are still here, and we deserve to be heard.”

English’s Nakoda name is Maxbiya Washte Wiya, which means Great Sky Woman. She is a human resources assistant in data control at SIU and a journalism and mass communication student.

Kickoff is Nov. 2

The online kickoff, set for 4:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 2, will feature remarks by SIU President Daniel F. Mahony, SIU Chancellor Austin A. Lane, Marsha Forrest, a registered nurse of Mohawk ancestry who speaks on Indigenous health care, and more. Join the celebration at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvFbnX4azLtmHHw3cz4ubgA.

Art comes to life

Native American artwork will be the focus of two events.

Karen Ann Hoffman, a member of the Oneida of Wisconsin, is an artist who creates beautiful decorative beaded pieces in a style akin to the traditional Iroquois raised beadwork. In partnership with the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art in Indianapolis, you can enjoy a Facebook presentation about Hoffman’s work at noon Nov. 6.

Mark Wagner, SIU’s director of the Center for Archaeological Investigations, has studied the fascinating Native American rock art throughout the Southern Illinois region for the past two decades. He will share photos and details about his findings during a presentation at noon Nov. 12. Zoom in here.

Talking it out

A pair of activities will offer opportunities for enlightening discussions.

Inclusive Conversation: Missing Indigenous Women” will explore the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women. Krista English will lead the Zoom presentation and discussion at 12:15 p.m. Nov. 13.

Appreciation and Appropriation,” a panel discussion, is set for 4 p.m. Nov. 18. The panel members will share information about Native American cultural tools and symbols, and they will offer advice on how to appreciate culture without appropriating it.

James_Pete-sm.jpgThe panelists include James Pete and Marsha Forrest. Pete is Red Cliff Outreach director at Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe College in Hayward, Wisconsin. Forrest is from the Six Nations Reservation in Ontario, Canada, and worked as a registered nurse for 40 years. She takes a holistic approach to health and well-being and is experienced with Indigenous teachings, ceremonies and practices.

Hear the stories

Terry-Brockie-sm.jpgIndigenous stories are passed down from generation to generation. The Native Storytelling session at 6 p.m. Nov. 19 offers a special opportunity to hear some of those special tales. Participants in the Native Storytelling session include Terry Brockie, a member of the Gros Ventre tribe.

He taught the Gros Ventre language for many years in the local public schools and at Aaniiih Nakoda College before becoming the first Native American in Montana to be elected to the position of county superintendent of schools. Brockie will be joined by fellow A’aninin speaker John Stiffarm, also of Montana.

Find out more

Find the complete schedule of events and additional details about Native American Heritage Month on the Student Multicultural Resource Center website