Vladmir Urena | Correspondent
At NC State, the Native American Student Association, or NASA, devotes the month of November to recognizing and promoting knowledge of the many different indigenous American cultures. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush declared November to be nationally recognized as Native Heritage Month, a tradition that still stands today.
There have been events taking place throughout the month to honor these cultures as NASA, along with the Multicultural Student Affairs office, aims to increase campus awareness and knowledge of Native students and their culture.
Native American Heritage Month kicked off with a bang on the first of the month with “Be Who You Be,” a talk that combined the topics of the Indigenous Hip Hop Generation and different current cultural movements in the country. This was followed by events like “Chat and Chew”, which was aimed to combat Native stereotypes, and the 12th Annual Dreamcatcher Workshop, hosted by Sigma Omicron Epsilon Sorority, Inc. among other events.
On Saturday the 19, the North Carolina Museum of History will celebrate the 21st Annual American Indian Heritage Celebration, in which different Native musicians, storytellers, and dancers will come and perform. Michael Sanderson, a senior majoring in chemical engineering and a member of the Lumbee Tribe, is planning to attend this event and several more throughout the month. “I just returned from the American Indian Science and Engineering Society National Conference in Minnesota, so I have to catch up on school right now, but I will lend as much support to the events as I can.”
While the Native population at NC State is less than one percent, the students and faculty are like a tight knit family that maintains the heritage away from home. “Native American Culture is often overlooked and treated as a dead culture sometimes, due to our small size and lack of representation, but we are very much alive and active,” Sanderson said.
Brittany Hunt, the Assistant Director of Native American Student Affairs and a member of the Lumbee tribe, makes sure to get to know the Native students at State well through NASA. “As such, I work closely with both the executive board and the general members of the organization throughout the year, including Native American Heritage Month and Pow Wow.”
In addition to NASA, there are several smaller institutions inside the university, such as the American Indian Science and Engineering Society, which encourages Indigenous representation in STEM fields, and the Native Space Village in Wood Hall, which Hunt also manages.
When attending the events, it is important to be open and willing to learn more about Native heritage outside of November. “History books are very misleading and typically stop teaching anything about Native history after the 1800s, and the media erases us completely. There are many myths and stereotypes that people hold about Natives that are often extremely antiquated and historically inaccurate,” Hunt said.
Another goal of the month is to raise awareness on the contributions of indigenous people. “I think the most important thing to remember this month is to respect those that inhabited this land before you,” Sanderson said. According to him, it is also important to keep in mind not only our future, but of those who come after. “Many tribes believe that when we make decisions, it must have a positive effect on those seven generations from us. Those that come after us must inherit what we leave behind, so let’s leave goodness in the world.”
There are still many events being promoted by NASA for the rest of November, so be sure to attend at least one in order to help support NASA, MSA, and Native culture in general. For more information regarding the full list of events, go to the MSA website or check out the calendar here: https://oied.ncsu.edu/MSA/november-is-native-american-heritage-month/