Editor’s note: An older version of this article incorrectly described Vince Redhouse’s technique and the article has now been updated to reflect the correction.
On a brisk mid-November evening, students and non-students alike were treated to a few hours of songs, stories and laughs this Wednesday, all with the sun setting behind Old Main in the background. It was the Native American Student Affair’s Native American Heritage Month Concert on the UA Mall, and it was just one of the events the organization planned for the month-long celebration.
While the setup was small, with only two guitars, one amplifier and two speakers, the audience was fully captivated by the soothing sounds presented to them. The main performer, Vince Redhouse, did introduced an unfamiliar instrument at one point in the performance: a wooden flute custom fit for his hands, playing it with a specialized technique that allowed for a larger range of notes. He displayed his jazz and woodwind background by effortlessly improvising up-tempo rhythms with a lively feel.
Accompanied by both acoustic and electric guitar, Redhouse, a father of a UA student, reached an seemingly impossible range of notes while breezing through solos that would make Ron Burgundy green with envy. Between songs he provided some personal history about his upbringing in music and his passion for playing woodwind instruments.
Throughout the month of November, the achievements and contributions of Native Americans like Redhouse have been recognized as a part of Native American Heritage Month. While not very prominent nationally, the celebration has received a lot of attention here at the UA, thanks to NASA’s efforts.
In place at the University since 1989, NASA has been behind many events and activities both on and off campus to celebrate the triumphs and diverse cultures of southwest indigenous groups.
And even though Native American Heritage Month has been recognized nationally since 1994, it has gone relatively unnoticed in mainstream society. Thankfully, NASA has been working hard to plan and coordinate events like Wednesday night’s concert throughout the entire month of November.
According to Kyle Ethelbah, Program Director of NASA, there have been workshops and guest speakers appearing here on campus, as well as other fundraisers and activities. Those who missed out on the concert can check out The Indigenous Peoples Law Program Fundraiser Festival at the School of Law’s north side of the building on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., as well as a research symposium on November 26 at noon in Nugent room 205.
NASA is more than just events, however.
“We want [graduating students] to have a sense of responsibility and to bridge student leaders with NASA to ASUA and other more ‘mainstream’ organizations,” said Ethelbah.
Participation in any one of these events will boost your cultural understanding, regardless of your background or ethnicity. Ethelbah just wants everyone to join in.
“These events are not exclusive to Native Americans. The entire community is welcome.”