Coral Avery, Orange Media Network
November marks Native American Heritage Month, a celebration of American Indian and Alaskan Native tradition, history and culture, and the Native American Longhouse Eena Haws will be holding events throughout.
Proclaimed in 1990, this designation aims to educate the public about tribes, and to raise awareness about historical and current challenges of Indigenous people and the ways in which they persevere. This is especially relevant at Oregon State University, as the school is located within the traditional homelands of the Mary’s Peak River, or Ampinefu, Band of Kalapuya Native Americans. In solidarity with the tribes, Oregon State University increasingly recognizes the history of its land, emphasizing the importance of diversity and intersectionality on campus through events at the NAL, according to Diversity & Cultural Engagement’s website. This month, the center is hosting several events from beadwork to Native Feast.
Aleysa García, a fourth-year student in public health and ethnic studies who identifies as Indigenous, says she learned a lot from last year’s celebration.
“Native History Month is a time when we can get together and enjoy our different Native cultures,” García said. “Growing up in the United States we learnt about Thanksgiving, but never the true story and because of the NAL celebration, I was able to unlearn and relearn and take those learning with me.”
Q’ayliwh Ammon, a staff member at the NAL, believes that the Native Feast event being held on Nov. 19 is particularly important because it lets Native people recognize their culture and share their food.
“Native Feast is important because it allows us to be in community with each other and share our food while also talking about the actual story of Thanksgiving,” Ammon said.
NAL staff member Ame Mañon said that the center tries to make the most of this celebration, as there is not much focus on Natives during the rest of the year, and their history is often misrepresented.
“There wouldn’t be any Native programming on campus without the NAL putting on these events. It’s important to highlight Heritage Month because we don’t really get a spotlight any other time of the year so it’s our one chance to be recognized on campus,” Mañon said. “It not only highlights traditional foods from various areas, but also opens up a discussion about what Thanksgiving means. We want to share the true story of Thanksgiving, which few people know.”
During this month of celebration, the NAL and Native American Student Association will be hosting several events open to all OSU students and faculty. These include collaborations with other centers and groups on campus. For instance, a collaboration with SOL LGBTQ+ Multicultural Network will be held on Tuesday from 4 – 6 p.m. There will be screen printing and a talk by Klamath artist Asa Wright.
“You Are Enough,” a collaborative event between the NAL and Black Cultural Center, will be held on Tuesday, and Native Feast will be held on Nov. 19. Tickets for Native Feast can be picked up at the NAL ahead of time, as space is limited.
On Nov. 27, from 4-6pm, there will be Beading and Study Break time, followed by Button Making with the Native American Student Association on Nov. 29 at 5 p.m.
Mañon describes these events as a chance for Native students to immerse themselves in their own culture, and a chance for non-Native community members to learn about Native history.
“It’s a way for us to engage with the broader community, but is also a way for Native students to participate in their own culture,” Mañon said. “It will be workshop style so participants can come in, use our supplies and learn from us.”
All events will be held at the NAL, and a full list of events can be found on the NAL Facebook page and website.