The Native American Student Association or NASA, celebrated Native American Heritage Month throughout November and hosted a Native Cultural Night that encompassed many aspects of the Native American lifestyle Nov. 18. This event, held in the African American Cultural Center, included food, giveaways, and performances. The money that was raised by the event will help NASA support diversity on campus and maintain funding for future programming.
Mallory Richardson, senior in English and communication opened the program with a greeting. Following the welcome, a guest speaker, Laura Kay Oxendine a representative of NASA, dressed in traditional European influenced clothing spoke to the audience about her wardrobe and the meanings behind every garment. Oxendine talked about the pinecone patchwork which is a distinct pattern used throughout each individual outfit. Berries were used as decoration on the pieces of clothing as well as in the jewelry that she wore. A Southern fan or a Northern fan is carried alone with a shawl that is worn on the side that matches each outfit. The Southern fan is made up of turkey feathers, rabbit fur, and deer skin while the Northern fan is made up of goose feathers and otter skin. After describing her attire, the speaker read poem entitled “Thanksgiving: A Native American View” by Jacqueline Keeler.
This night was filled with performances by the Red Oak Singers, a drum group established in 2003. The leader of the group explained that the drum was given by ancestors as a mistake. He repeatedly stated, “do not be wary of your waist” which has a historical meaning in Native American culture. The drum that was present at this event was composed of cow skin and pine and cedar wood. The three person ensemble performed a few songs before they were joined by a fourth person. The drummers lead those in attendance in a friendship song. During this song, many people joined hands and formed two circles. The leader of the group stated during this song that anyone is welcomed to participate in the dance no matter if you are “white, black, pink, polka dot, purple, or Barney himself” because we are all connected somehow.
Clarissa Beaty, a freshman in accounting said that the “most exciting part was listening to them [drummers] sing those songs from the heart and hearing the story behind the drum.”
NASA also served a pre-Thanksgiving meal that featured many traditional as well as conventional items. The food ranged from turkey, stuffing, and gravy to sweet potato pie. After eating and dancing, the members of the NASA organization handed out gifts for those who purchased raffle tickets and door prizes. Even though this event was scheduled to end at 9p.m. the festivities lasted well past the scheduled time limit, showing how everyone involved enjoyed the event so much that they lost track of time.
Kadeem Myrick, junior in business administration, said that “culture night is an event more students should try to attend. I learned so much about the Native American Culture. It was a great experience!”
According to the informational bulletin the organization displayed at the event, NASA was established on March 1, 1999 to “enhance the N.C. State population by informing unaware student, faculty and staff about Native American Heritage.” The mission of this group is to “educate, serve and sponsor programming to assist” in an effort to enhance the knowledge of Native American history on this campus. Even though NASA is focused on Native Americans it is a “non-discriminatory organization that welcomes persons of all nationalities, and ethnicities, from all backgrounds.” Their goal is to “involve strong, diverse, leader from throughout the N.C. State community.”