Native American History Month


November 03, 2022

SIU celebrates Native American Heritage Month in November

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Southern Illinois University Carbondale will be recognizing November as Native American Heritage Month with a variety of special events. All activities are free and open to the public.

“We’re excited to celebrate Native American History Month to recognize the contributions of the rich diverse cultures at the university and the positive impact that Native communities have had on the history of this country,” said Renada Greer, executive director of the Student Multicultural Resource Center and Trio Programs.

Among the highlights is the Nov. 7 kickoff event featuring Troy Wayne Poteete, a founding member of the Trail of Tears Association, as the keynote speaker. Poteete, who served on the board of directors for the association for more than 20 years before becoming executive director in 2014, will speak at 3:30 p.m. at the John C. Guyon Auditorium in Morris Library.

Poteete was also a justice of the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court for a decade until 2017 and represented the Three Rivers District in the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council, 1991-1999. An acclaimed Cherokee history storyteller and lecturer, he inspires audiences with stories that meld his rich Cherokee Nation family history with experiences from his lifetime of service in the Cherokee Nation government.

The Trail of Tears narrative will continue at 6 p.m. Nov. 14 in the Guyon Auditorium as members of the Trail of Tears Association share the local perspective and context of when the Cherokee crossed Southern Illinois between 1837 and 1839. They will interpret the portion of the trail that crosses through the region, tell of what took place during that forced relocation and what is being done to protect the trail today.

Learn about missing and murdered Indigenous women

Krista English, a member of Montana’s Assiniboine (Ah-sin-eh-boy-n) tribe, also known as the Nakoda, will make an enlightening “lunch and learn” presentation from noon to 1:30 p.m. Nov. 16 in the Old Main Room of the Student Center, focusing on “Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.” 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, homicide is the third leading cause of death among Native girls and women ages 10-24 and the fifth leading cause for those ages 25-34. And the National Crime Information Center notes that in 2016, the latest year for which numbers are available, there were more than 5,700 reports of missing Native American and Alaska Native women and girls through the U.S. Department of Justice’s federal missing person’s database, yet the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, the national information and resource center, logged just 116 cases. English will discuss the tragedy and its implications.

The following day at 3 p.m., the documentary “Bring Her Home: Three Indigenous women fight to vindicate and honor their missing and murdered relatives” will air in the Student Center Auditorium.

Campuswide commitment to inclusion

The Native American Heritage Month commemoration is sponsored by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Anti-Racism, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion along with the Student Multicultural Resource Center, and co-sponsored by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute. One of SIU’s five pillars in the Imagine 2030 strategic plan is a commitment to anti-racism, diversity, equity and inclusion.

For the complete schedule of events and additional information, visit or email