Troy Poteete

October 31, 2023

SIU celebrating Native American Heritage Month in November

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Southern Illinois University Carbondale will recognize November as Native American Heritage Month with a variety of special events, including guest speakers, special music and more. The theme of the 2023 celebration is “Our Stories, History and Culture.”

“We look forward to celebrating Native American Heritage Month and recognizing the rich history and culture of the Native American and Indigenous communities and the wonderful contributions they have made to this country,” said Renada Greer, executive director of the Student Multicultural Resource Center and TRiO Student Support Services.

All events are free and open to the public.

Kickoff is Wednesday

Troy Wayne Poteete will be the keynote speaker for the kickoff event, set for 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 1, in Ballroom B at the Student Center. Poteete is a founding member of the Trail of Tears Association and served on its board of directors for more than 20 years before becoming executive director in 2014. He also served as a justice for the Cherokee Nation from 2007 to 2017, and he served on the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council from 1991 to 1999, representing the Three Rivers District Council, the most southern of the nine Cherokee districts. He was appointed executive director of the Arkansas Riverbed Authority, a tribal group created by the Chickasaw, Chocktaw and Cherokee Nations to handle their interests in the 96-mile section of the Arkansas River between Muskogee, Oklahoma, and Fort Smith, Arkansas. A 2001 graduate of the University of Tulsa Law School, he also founded the Webbers Falls Historical Society in his hometown.

An acclaimed Cherokee history storyteller and lecturer, Poteete inspires his audiences with stories that weave together his rich Cherokee Nation family history with experiences garnered from a lifetime of service to the Cherokee Nation government. The Office of the Vice Chancellor for Anti-Racism, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute are sponsoring the presentation, which is free and open to the public.

Learn, experience and share

There will be several chances to experience the culture of the people who have long lived on this land.

  • All are invited to join in an Indigenous Talking Circle from noon to 1 p.m. Nov. 8 at the Student Center’s Mississippi Room, hosted by Maxbiya Washte Wiya, a member of the Nakoda tribe in Montana. Derived from the practices of Indigenous people and Native Americans, the talking circle process is a way to form relationships, honor voices and create unity.
  • mozart-g-sm.jpgEnjoy Native American Band: Mozart Gabriel and Dach Martin from 5-7 p.m. Nov. 9 on the Student Services Building Pavilion. Gabriel is a Native American folk, indie and alternative rock artist who grew up in the country’s oldest inhabited village, Taos Pueblo, New Mexico. Now based in Nashville, Tennessee, he and his bandmates have gained a worldwide audience, claiming the title “Best of Barcelona” in a Battle of the Bands competition. In the event of cold or inclement weather, the event will be relocated to an alternate location, which will be announced. 
  • Join in a special reading journey from noon to 1 p.m. Nov. 16 in the Student Services Building, Room 170. “A Two Spirit Journey: The Autobiography of a Lesbian Ojibwa Cree Elder” is Ma-Nee Chacaby’s compelling personal story of self-discovery, exploring history, culture, traditions, resilience and much more. The first 20 people to attend will receive a free copy of her book.

The Student Multicultural Resource Center is sponsoring a variety of other events during NAHM. Find the complete schedule on the center’s website.