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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

November celebrates Native American heritage, education

One+of+several+display+cases++containing+information+about+the+Native+American+Science+and+Engineering++Program%2C+a+small+woven+square+and+an+image+of+a+Native+American++student%2C+as+part+of+the+American+Indian+Students+at+the+University+of++Arizona+exhibition+on+the+first+floor+of+the+Main+Library+on+Tuesday.++November+is+Native+American+Heritage+Month%2C+a+time+to+celebrate+and++raise+awareness+about+Native+American+culture.

One of several display cases containing information about the Native American Science and Engineering Program, a small woven square and an image of a Native American student, as part of the American Indian Students at the University of Arizona exhibition on the first floor of the Main Library on Tuesday. November is Native American Heritage Month, a time to celebrate and raise awareness about Native American culture.

Native American Heritage Month is being widely celebrated throughout the UA campus this November.

The National Congress of American Indians defines the month as “a time to celebrate rich and diverse cultures, traditions and histories and to acknowledge the important contributions of Native people.”

Steven Martin, program director for Native American Student Affairs, said he wanted to bring light to what Native American Heritage Month means, and what it means to be an American Indian on the UA campus and on a larger scale.

“Native American heritage month is a time for us to bring fact, to bring truth and to show others … this is what we are about,” Martin said. “We are doctors, we are lawyers, we are educators.”

American Indian students who come to the UA often try to find a place where they belong, Martin said, and the office of Native American Student Affairs’ job is to help those students transition. One way of doing this is by celebrating Native American Heritage Month on campus.

“What Native American Heritage Month does is it allows our Native students to feel connected to the campus,” Martin said. “When they see these programs, when we bring people to campus, when we do Native American appreciation night it kind of brings a little relief to our Native students who know they are supported here.”

He also said this month is a time to educate others.

“But then we still have to overcome some challenges, such as the Manifest Destiny piece,” Martin said. “You know, there is still a lack of understanding about what it means to be a Native American, and there is still a lot of education that needs to be had, that has to take place. Native American heritage month provides that opportunity.”

Chad Marchand, president of the American Indian Alumni Club, said the organization hosts events to celebrate Native American Heritage Month, including a homecoming banquet. At this event, the American Indian Alumni Club honors its scholarship recipients, which totaled 43 students this year. They collectively received over $75,000.

Marchand also said a Native American Appreciation Night was put on Tuesday evening in conjunction with Arizona Athletics.

“We’ve negotiated this contract with athletics for the past six years,” Marchand said. “This is the first time UA Athletics is actually doing a Native American heritage night.”

Marchand also said that they take part in the Homecoming parade, during which the students that march choose to carry their individual tribal flags. The American Indian Alumni Club’s scholarship cohort has individuals from 13 tribes.

“Our students actually chose to carry their own tribal flags, and you like to say Native American Heritage Month honors all Native Americans, but it also honors individual tribes,” Marchand said. “A lot of people see us as one group, but we are many identities within that group.”

Martin said the overall meaning of Native American Heritage Month is to bring awareness to others.

“It’s one month out of the whole year, and it’s nice to have that one month out of the whole year, but I try to get people to understand we’re Native American … every day of our lives,” Martin said. “We don’t need to be forgotten about the other 11 months. There still needs to be an appreciation and a level of respect for who we are on this campus. I don’t want that to ever be forgotten.”

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Follow Ariella Noth on Twitter.

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