November has been recognized as National Native American Heritage Month since 1990. Native American Student Affairs will host several social events to encourage the awareness of Native American cultures throughout the month.
NASA held the Native American Heritage Month Kick Off to promote the events Oct. 29 in the South Ballroom of the Student Union Memorial Center. They served free food while guests spoke and gave presentations.
According to Daryan Singer, Miss Native American University of Arizona First ambassador, the purpose of the event was to invite faculty members of on-campus resource centers and publicize future events coming in the following month through the kickoff event and flyers handed out there.
Nicholas Wilson, a graduate assistant of NASA, told his experience as a Native American student and the importance of using resources to get help.
He introduced some aspects of student life that they can support, including financial aid. NASA has resources for students from a variety of angles. He also said they are organizing a new group to support LGBTQ students.
“Our challenges are unique and different,” he said. “… In my opinion, basically you can come to us; we give you as many options as possible and help you try to make the right decision for you.”
In addition, members of the Wildcat Nation Senior Drum Group played traditional songs at the event.
They said they play the traditional drums to “be seen by the community.” They felt that there are still misconceptions about Native Americans.
“[NAHM] is a good way to raise awareness of Native Americans still around,” said Cheyenne Grabiec, a member of the Wildcat Nation. “But we are not just in Native American Heritage Month. [We are] in every day of our lives.”
Miss Native American University of Arizona Kaelyn Bitsoi said the NAHM is to welcome the student and family of Native Americans and support them. She said she wants not only to welcome Native Americans on campus and in Tucson but also to seek openness to the diversity.
“I like [NAHM]. I take much pride in my heritage and traditions and everything,” Bitsoi said. “I’m from Northern Arizona area, so here, being around everyone who is Native American and building that sense of community is actually what makes me like stay here and continue my education.”
A lot of student-led events are coming.
Singer said Indigicat Student Association is planning to have events collaborating with other student clubs.
NASA will also host more than 10 events and workshops about Native American culture and medications. Some events have free food or tea. The Wildcat Nations will come and play in some of the events.
One unique event is Soup’er Friday Nov. 9, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. According to Miss Native American UA Coordinator Ingri Que Salt, students can enjoy soup while talking with the faculty of resource centers and mentors about their needs.
In addition, there will be two events, Cornmeal Pouch Making and the Real Meaning of Thanksgiving Potluck, Nov. 19. The Real Meaning of Thanksgiving Potluck will educate participants the historical and cultural meanings of Thanksgiving to the Native American Society.
“What Thanksgiving means to us is not happy and joy as everybody takes to be but the time of genocide for us, and a lot of colonization,” Salt said. “We have been historicized, which means people still don’t know we exist.”
More information about all coming events can be found on NASA Facebook page.
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