Universities, tribal cultural centers mark American Indian Heritage Month

By Kimberly Burk, for Native Oklahoma Magazine

American Indian Heritage Month “provides non-Natives an excellent opportunity to learn about the uniqueness and diversity of the tribal nations,” said Sara Barnett, director of the Center for Tribal Studies at Northeastern State University.

“We cannot and must not limit our celebration of Indigenous culture to one month out of the year,” Barnett said.

“However, due to its national recognition as American Indian Heritage Month, we typically offer a series of events during the month of November.”

Organizations and departments across the Tahlequah campus sponsored in November such happenings as an Indian taco sale, a corn bead necklace workshop, film screenings, author lectures and a vigil to honor missing and murdered Indigenous women.

“These events offer an opportunity for Indigenous peoples to share their knowledge, history and present-day accomplishments with others, Native and non-Native alike,” Barnett said.

A panel discussion on Nov. 9 at NSU was entitled “Ahyoka’s Legacy: The Contributions of Women in Cherokee Language Revitalization.”

An event on Nov. 13 was called “This is Herland: Gendered Activism in Oklahoma.”

On Nov. 17, a presentation at NSU was entitled “Loyal Countrywomen: Cherokee Female Seminary Alumnae.”

Boarding school displays are available for viewing this month on the university’s Broken Arrow and Muskogee campuses, Barnett said.

Native heritage is always on display at cultural centers across the state, including the newly-opened First Americans Museum. Marketing and Communications Manager Ginny Underwood said FAM received “a ton of requests for speakers” for American Indian Heritage Month.

“We have been focusing more on sending people out into the community versus hosting programmed events on site,” Underwood said.

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